Why has Hartlepool seen biggest increase in pupils being excluded from school in the country?
Education chiefs say they are working to figure out why Hartlepool has experienced the biggest increase in England in the level of pupils being excluded over the last decade.
Exclusions rocketed from 263 in 2008-09 to 4,879 in 2017-18, an increase of more than 1,755%.
Reasons for pupils being excluded temporarily, known as ‘fixed term’ in the most recent figures included bullying (43), drugs and alcohol related (28), sexual misconduct (9), racist abuse (7), physical assault against a pupil (424) and verbal abuse/threatening behaviour against an adult (655).
Eleven students were permanently excluded in 2017-18 for physical assault against an adult (3), physical assault against a pupil (2), verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against a pupil (1) verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against an adult (3), drug and adult related (1) and other (1).
In 2017-18, Hartlepool’s secondary schools dealt out a total of 4,810 exclusions, compared to just 231 a decade earlier.
Primary school exclusions almost doubled from 26 in 2008-09 to 49 in 2017-18, and special schools had 20 most recently compared to 6 a decade earlier.
Hartlepool Borough Council said does everything it can to avoid pupils being excluded which it said is always a last resort.
But it said its ability to give kids the best education possible is being affected by funding pressures and Government cutbacks.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Together with our schools, we are doing the very best we can to offer specialist support to individual pupils to try to avoid exclusions and ensure every child receives the best education they can.
“However, this is made extremely difficult by the substantial funding pressures we continue to face from increasing Government cuts.
“Given Hartlepool’s low exclusion rate in 2008, there was always greater scope for a larger percentage increase over the course of a decade.
“We are continuing to work closely with our maintained schools and academies to understand why exclusion rates have risen, and put measures in place to try to reduce these figures.
“We would stress that exclusions are a last resort after all other avenues have been exhausted.”
At the other end of the scale, several local authority areas saw behaviour get better and fewer pupils being excluded over the same time period.
They included South Tyneside where they fell from 1,493 in 2008-09 to 604 in 2017-18.
The figures were collated by parents’ website PlayLikeMum from government data.