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Alcohol and drug-related exclusions in schools almost double

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THE number of children excluded for drug and alcohol-related issues has risen dramatically.

Brighton and Hove City Council have recognised “there are particular issues around drug and alcohol related exclusions” after 114 children were excluded in the academic year 2017-18 – the most recent figures.

This was up from 63 the previous year.

A council spokesman said: “Where there are particular issues around drug and alcohol related exclusions, specialist services work with parents, schools and pupils to ensure that appropriate support is offered.”

Though the total number of exclusions dropped, the number of exclusions “due to physical assault against a pupil” was another category to see an increase, jumping from 256 in 2016-17 to 268 the following year.

Schools in the city also saw a rise in the total number of exclusions for “physical assault against a pupil or an adult, and drug and alcohol-related issues, with the number increasing from 468 to 516.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said: “Pupil indiscipline is now one of the main reasons given by teachers for considering leaving the profession, making it a key contributory factor to the national crisis in teacher supply.

“It is common for people to assume that behaviour problems are confined to secondary schools, but in fact, that has never been the case.

“Primary school teachers also face equally challenging and serious pupil indiscipline, but they are often discouraged from raising the issues and led to believe it will reflect negatively on them because of the age of pupils.

“For too long, too many teachers have suffered in silence.

“The NASUWT has gathered evidence on the extent of the verbal and physical abuse being faced by teachers, some of whom report abuse occurring daily.

“Their physical and mental health is being affected by the failure of too many employers to support them in tackling these issues.

“No teacher should have to go to work with the expectation that they will be abused.”

But the “total number of exclusions due to physical assault against an adult” lowered from 149 to 134 during the year.

This contributed to the “total number of fixed and permanent exclusions in the area” falling to 1,696, from 1,786 the year before.

A council spokesman said: “The rate of fixed-term exclusions in the city has shown a steady decrease over the last three years, and is likely to be below national levels when new data is released in the summer.

“This is due to the hard work of teaching staff, and the council’s promotion of good attendance and an inclusive ethos.

“Permanent exclusion rates in the city are among the lowest in the country. This reflects the importance schools and the council place on ensuring all children have the opportunity to succeed.”

The Department for Education said: “While fixed-period exclusion rates have risen, permanent exclusion rates have remained stable, and they are both lower than they were a decade ago.”

He continued: “Permanent exclusion remains a rare event.”

“The Government supports headteachers in using exclusion as a sanction where warranted.

“That means backing heads to use their powers to issue fixed-period exclusions in response to poor behaviour, and to permanently exclude, as a last resort.

“Where pupils are excluded, the quality of education they receive should be no different than mainstream settings, and we are taking a range of actions to make sure that is the case.”

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