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Stat of the Week

980 - Permanent exclusions for physical assault

Assaults on adults accounted for 9 per cent of permanent exclusions in the academic year 200607, according to data from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

Exclusions for assaults on pupils were close to double this number and, with verbal abuse or threatening behaviour, they accounted for the bulk of offences leading to a permanent exclusion. There were only 40 exclusions for racist abuse, 90 for bullying, and 140 for sexual misconduct. Despite the growing alarm about young people and addiction, only 400 exclusions were drug or alcohol related.

By far the largest reason for a permanent exclusion was "persistent disruptive behaviour". This presumably relates to the final act of defiance that broke the camel's back after a school has tried everything to keep the pupil on board. Despite the range of categories for exclusion devised by the DCSF, 1,320 pupils were permanently excluded for "other" reasons.

The majority of permanent exclusions occur in secondary schools. Pupils not in secondary schools were most likely to be permanently excluded for assaults, either on another pupil or on an adult.

Despite the common view of inner cities being terrorised by gangs of feral youths, schools in the suburbs and market towns of England are more eager to exclude for acts of violence. Whether this is due to such schools being less tolerant or prepared than inner-city schools, the statistics can't say.

Many of those permanently excluded by schools will sadly end up in young offender institutions; places where they will find that there is no policy of exclusion.

John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.

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