Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“These figures show that the vast majority of pupils are well behaved and will go through their entire school career without serious sanctions ever becoming necessary.
“The decision to exclude a student is taken rarely and never lightly and is always as a last resort, as these figures show. Even though exclusion is a last resort, it should not mean the end of the road for excluded pupils. Unfortunately cuts to health and social care services mean that the safety net for excluded young people has too many holes in it. This is something that the government should address urgently.
“The number of pupils identified as having additional needs continues to rise, outpacing the funding available both in education and health and social care services. Those children receiving SEN support but without an ECHP are often the worst hit group, where support is even more stretched.
“Early, cross-sector intervention is key to ensure good behaviour and avoid exclusion, but schools just aren’t able to access that early support as they need. We’ve seen cuts in local authority services such as behaviour support teams, combined with reductions in pastoral care. Speech and language therapists for pupils with additional needs are disappearing. In addition, there are frequently delays in providing mental health support for pupils who need it.
“Schools can’t do it on their own. To avoid exclusions, they need the funded support of specialist services to meet every child’s needs.”
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