Hartlepool has one of the highest rates of children being excluded from secondary school in the North East.
In the school year 2015-16, 326 pupils in the town served one or more fixed period exclusion, the equivalent of 5.95% of the total secondary school population in the town.
We believe it is preferable to have pupils learning within a school setting wherever possible, so the council is working closely with all schools to try to address this situation and bring exclusions down to their previous low levels.Council spokesman
The highest rate of exclusions in the North East came in Middlesbrough, where 984 pupils served at least one period of exclusion during the year, 12.75% of the total, followed by Redcar and Clevleand, with 658 pupils (8.08%) excluded. Hartlepool was third in the region.
Barnsley, Doncaster, North Lincolnshire, Rotherham, Sheffield and North East Lincolnshire are also among the top 10 in the country for secondary school exclusions.
A fixed-period exclusion means a pupil is barred from attending school for a set period of time, which can be anything from part of a school day up to a maximum of 45 days within a single academic year.
This does not have to be continuous, pupils can be excluded for more than one fixed period.
Ofsted’s regional director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, Cathy Kirby, is writing to headteachers to raise her concerns about their rates of fixed-period exclusions and calling on inspectors to look very carefully at schools’ use of exclusion when making judgements about leadership and management and pupils’ behaviour.
“I fully appreciate variations between individual secondary schools and recognise that there may be valid reasons for schools to exclude pupils,” she said.
“But it is difficult to understand why fixed-period exclusion should be so much more necessary in these eight local authorities compared with others.
“Schools should only ever use exclusions as a last resort. Being removed from school can disrupt a child’s education and affect their future life chances.
“So I am asking inspectors to look very carefully at the use of exclusion in areas with high rates compared with national and regional figures. We want to be certain that pupils are being removed for the right reasons.”
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Whilst exclusion rates in Hartlepool schools have historically been low, there has been a recent rise in fixed-term and permanent exclusions.
“We believe it is preferable to have pupils learning within a school setting wherever possible, so the council is working closely with all schools to try to address this situation and bring exclusions down to their previous low levels.”