Sheffield has one of the highest rates in England for secondary school exclusions

Secondary school exclusion rates in Sheffield are among some of the highest in the country
Secondary school exclusion rates in Sheffield are among some of the highest in the country

Secondary school exclusion rates in Sheffield are among some of the highest in the country - promoting Ofsted to write to headteachers.

The city is in the top ten for the number of fixed period exclusions received by secondary school students.

Ofsteds regional director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, Cathy Kirby,

Ofsteds regional director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, Cathy Kirby,

In the school year 2015-16, there were 5,688 fixed period exclusions in Sheffield - 18.75 per cent of the total secondary school population in the city.

Ofsted has pinpointed eight councils across the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber - including Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham - with unusually high rates of pupil exclusions in 2015/16.

Sheffield Council bosses said they are working with schools to prevent exclusions 'wherever possible'.

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In Doncaster, 30.72 per cent of all pupils were excluded, equivalent to 5,588 pupils being given one or more fixed period exclusions.

Barnsley had a rate of 11.23 per cent, with 1,279 given exclusions, while Rotherham had a rate of 20.19 per cent, equivalent to 3,687 pupils.

Ofsted’s regional director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, Cathy Kirby, is to write to headteachers to raise her concerns about their rates of fixed-period exclusions and will call on inspectors to look very carefully at schools’ use of exclusion when making judgements about leadership and management and pupils’ behaviour.

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She said: "I fully appreciate variations between individual secondary schools and recognise that there may be valid reasons for schools to exclude pupils.

"But it is difficult to understand why fixed-period exclusion should be so much more necessary in these eight local authorities compared with others.

“Schools should only ever use exclusions as a last resort. If not properly applied, being removed from school can disrupt a child’s education and affect their future life chances.

“So I am asking inspectors to look very carefully at the use of exclusion in areas with high rates compared with national and regional figures. We want to be certain that pupils are being removed for the right reasons.”

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In her annual report, Her Majesty’s Chief inspector Amanda Spielman stated that she absolutely supports a school’s right to exclude pupils, but that it must only be used when necessary. For example when their behaviour is violent, threatening towards teachers or when it affects other pupils’ learning.

A fixed-period exclusion means a pupil is barred from attending school for a set period of time, which can be anything from part of a school day up to a maximum of 45 days within a single academic year. This does not have to be continuous; pupils can be excluded for more than one fixed period.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families at Sheffield Council, said: “We believe that schools do everything they can to ensure all children and young people are in education every day and a decision taken by a school to exclude a child or young person is never taken lightly.

“We believe that one child or one young person that is excluded is one too many and that is why we are working with schools to identify and tackle problems early, preventing exclusions whenever possible.”