Recent figures published by the Department for Education show that Southampton in the South East had the highest percentage of fixed-period exclusions in the country during 200809.
Southampton schools handed out the exclusions to more than one in 10 of pupils of all ages. A breakdown of the figures shows that the equivalent of one in five secondary school pupils and more than four out of 10 pupils in special schools received a fixed-period exclusion.
Of course, repeated fixed-period exclusions may prevent high levels of permanent exclusions. Southampton did not permanently exclude pupils in special schools, although it did exclude an above-average number of secondary pupils.
It was another coastal town, Hartlepool in the North East, that had the lowest overall rate of fixed-period exclusions with only 250 during the year, or 1.67 per cent of pupils. This included just six in the special school sector. Middlesbrough, the North East authority with the highest percentage of fixed-period exclusions, still had only two-thirds that of Southampton.
Small authorities dominate both ends of the exclusion spectrum, with rural East Riding coming second to Southampton, partly because of a high level of fixed-period exclusions in the primary sector.
Blackburn with Darwen and North Somerset both feature among the authorities with the lowest percentages, while Rutland, although it didn't score the lowest percentage among all the authorities, did not exclude any primary school pupil in the same year, whether on either a fixed-period or permanent basis.
In the Government's new world of academies, the question of who will monitor and take action over this type of data seems yet to be resolved. But these figures raise the issue of whether there is something Southampton schools can learn from their colleagues in Hartlepool.
John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education
FIXED-PERIOD EXCLUSIONS: PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL NUMBER OF PUPILS*
* Local authorities with the highest and lowest figures in each region 20089
Poole South West: 7.48 (lowest North Somerset 2.53)
Southampton South East: 10.68 (lowest Slough 3.18)
Greenwich London: 7.63 (lowest Kingston-upon-Thames 2.54)
Telford amp; Wrekin West Midlands: 7.44 (lowest Staffordshire 3.45)
Northamptonshire East Midlands: 6.02 (lowest Rutland 3.18)
Thurrock East of England: 6.03 (lowest Southend 2.97)
Blackpool North West: 7.39 (lowest Blackburn with Darwen 2.30)
East Riding Yorkshire and Humberside: 7.80 (lowest Barnsley 3.18)
Middlesbrough North East: 6.87 (lowest Hartlepool 1.67).