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Permanent exclusions from school halve in two years

The number of permanent exclusions has halved in two years, Department for Education figures reveal.

There were 3,900 permanent exclusions in the 2020/21 academic year, more than 1,000 permanent exclusions lower than in the 2019/20 academic year when there were 5,100 permanent exclusions and around half the number of permanent exclusions in the last full academic year before the pandemic in 2018/19 when there were 7,900.

There were 352,500 suspensions in the 2020/21 academic year. This is an increase from the previous year, when 310,700 suspensions occurred, but is still lower than pre-pandemic levels (438,300 in 2018/19).

The most common reason for permanent exclusions or suspensions was persistent disruptive behaviour, recorded 1,500 times against 39% of permanent exclusions and recorded 148,400 times against 42% of suspensions.

Since 2020-21, schools can document up to three reasons for a suspension or exclusion and the following reasons for suspensions and permanent exclusions were added from 2020/21:

  • Use or threat of use of an offensive weapon or prohibited item
  • Abuse against sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Abuse relating to disability
  • Inappropriate use of social media or online technology
  • Wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures in place to protect public health

The permanent exclusion and suspension rates generally increase with age and are highest at age 14. Boys have three times the number of exclusions than girls (3,000 and 1,000 respectively). Boys also account for more than twice the number of suspensions for girls.

The permanent exclusion rate for pupils eligible for Free School Meals is 0.12, around four times higher than for those not eligible, at 0.03. The suspension rate is also higher at 9.68 for pupils eligible for FSM, compared to 2.82 for those not eligible.

Meanwhile, the permanent exclusion rate for pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is 0.08, and for pupils with SEN with no EHC plan (SEN support) is 0.15, compared to 0.03 for those without SEN. The suspension rate is also higher at 12.98 for pupils with an EHC plan and 11.86 for pupils with SEN support, compared to 2.80 for those without SEN.

Pupils from Gypsy/Roma backgrounds continue to have the highest rates of permanent exclusions (0.18) and suspensions (15.00), with pupils of mixed White and Black Caribbean ethnicity the second highest group.

Pupils in the Chinese ethnic group have the lowest rates of permanent exclusions and suspensions in 2020/21.

Academic Year 2020/21

Permanent exclusions and suspensions in England

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