Schools exclude fewer students

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TEACHERS are still facing physical assaults and verbal abuse in their classrooms from a small minority of challenging pupils.

Figures for the latest school year show that 29 primary school pupils and 68 secondary school pupils were permanently excluded in Lincolnshire, while 568 children aged five to 11 and 2,057 aged 11 to 18 were given fixed term exclusions, averaging three days, for bad behaviour including violence, bullying, sexual misconduct, drugs and alcohol and racist abuse.

The numbers for the 2010/11 school year show a drop on the previous two years, with the effectiveness of the county’s school improvement service and efforts of parent support advisers cited as a reason for the fall.

The county’s experiences of falling exclusions mirror the national trend, but a report by the Department for Education says two thirds of teachers still believe bad behaviour is driving professionals out of the classroom.

Nationally, major assaults have reached a five-year high, with 44 having to be rushed to hospital with serious injuries last year.

Steve Buck, a Lincolnshire spokesman for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers union, said in his experience most pupils are well behaved and cause few problems in the classroom, but a small minority continue to cause trouble.

He said: “From my experience, the number of pupils causing difficulties in the classroom is no greater than it was 30 years ago but I think the level of difficulty they cause is far greater.

“The number of primary school exclusions may sound particularly shocking, but I think the belief that the younger the child, the easier they are to manage is a fallacy.

“There are a small number of children in all age groups who present at school with very challenging behaviour and this can be for a number of reasons.

“It is wrong to generalise, but in some cases it is because children come to school having never been put in situations by their parents where they have learned socialisation skills and they do not know how to act with adults and other children.

“In other cases, some of these children have never been told ‘no’ until they come into school and are doing nothing different to what they do at home.

“In some cases the parents are excellent parents, but some children are just difficult.

“Occasionally teachers or teaching assistants will be physically attacked as a result and although it is appalling and in no way acceptable, it does still happen.

“Fortunately teachers do have powers to deal with such incidents and after proper training can use physical restraint techniques on a child who becomes aggressive.

“And it is important that they are able to effectively deal with these children so they do not adversely affect the education of the rest of the class.”