The number of secondary schools using expulsion as a sanction is rising, but schools are not degenerating into a chaos of indiscipline, according to a survey of secondary exclusions and exclusion policies published by the Office for Standards in Education yesterday.
Most pupils, even in poorly taught classes in inner-city schools, behave decently, say the inspectors, but there is a "small minority" of miscreants who are becoming increasingly intractable. The inspectors are "in no doubt that there is a hard core of pupils with whom it is unrealistic to expect mainstream schools to cope".
OFSTED visited 39 schools in 16 representative local education authorities and examined case studies of 112 excluded pupils. Exclusion rates rose in every LEA in the study since 1991. The most common reasons for exclusion were: verbal abuse of staff; violence to other pupils; persistently breaking rules; disruption; criminal offences - usually theft or substance abuse.
While some schools were "profligate" in their use of exclusion, others were so reluctant to resort to it that they were endangering the safety of staff and pupils.
As The TES went to press, the Department for Education and Employment was due to release figures on permanent exlusions gleaned from all schools. The statistics were expected to show that exclusions are at around 11,000, a figure that has been contradicted by another, more up-to-date survey of LEAs by Dr Carl Parsons of Christ Church College, Canterbury, which shows that they have risen to 13,000.