Page last updated at 00:26 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Many violent pupils not expelled

Teacher writing
Decisions to exclude pupils are taken by head teachers

More than 340 children are suspended for violence against other pupils every school day in England, figures highlighted by the Tories show.

Official data shows 65,390 pupils were temporarily excluded for violence against their classmates in 2006-7.

Though not new, the figures may surprise some as violence is one of the few offences behaviour guidelines deem serious enough for immediate expulsion.

The government said teachers were using short, sharp shocks to control pupils.

The figures, published in June this year, showed that more than 2,200 children were excluded from school in England every school day, most temporarily.

Classroom control

The Conservatives are highlighting the fact that so many are served with temporary exclusions for violence.

They also point to large year-on-year increases in certain areas.

In England overall, the increase was 4.3% between 2005-6 and 2006-7, but in some pockets the rise was much greater.

Heads need the power to expel children who are violent to others without the possibility of seeing that child returned to the school
Michael Gove
Shadow children's minister

In one borough, Southwark, they rose by 110% from 166 to 348. This compares to a rise of 10% in London overall.

In Hartlepool exclusions for violence rose by 53% and in Middlesbrough by 50%.

The figures also showed that students from disadvantaged areas were more likely to be given exclusions.

Shadow children's minister Michael Gove said: "This is further evidence of the lack of discipline in our schools. It is vital that teachers are given control over the classroom so they can deal with bad behaviour before it escalates into violence.

"We will change the law to give teachers unequivocal powers to maintain discipline.

"Heads need the power to expel children who are violent to others without the possibility of seeing that child returned to the school."

His party has repeatedly pledged to end parents' right of appeal over expulsions, but it seems some head teachers are not making full use of the powers available to them.

Violence or threatened violence, along with sexual assault, supplying drugs and carrying weapons, is named in the government's behaviour guidelines as an offence that could warrant, in the head teacher's judgement, permanent exclusion for a first "one-off" offence.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "These figures show that teachers are using the powers we have given them to give short, sharp shocks to control discipline."

The percentage of permanent exclusions overturned on appeal is very small.

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