At the end of July, the Department for Education (DfE) released their annual statistics regarding the use of Permanent Exclusions (PEX) and Fixed Term Exclusions (FTE) in schools.
This year’s statistics have been affected by the Covid pandemic. The first national lockdown occurred on 23 March 2020 during the spring term. Many, although not all schools remained open for vulnerable children and children of key workers – although this varied from school to school. The families of many vulnerable children – as well as those with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) reported that they were not allowed to attend.
During this time, schools were still able to carry out both PEX and FTE, although the fact the vast majority of children were unable to attend during this time saw figures drastically reduce. This means it is not really possibly to compare data with figures from previous years.
But caution should be used when looking at school exclusion data in any case. Whilst it can give an overall picture, there are many ways of removing and excluding children from a school roll which does not fall in these statistics. These include:
Unlawful exclusions – pupils sent home without going through official procedures
Schools pushing children with EHCPs out at Annual Review
Schools pushing children into Alternative Provision whilst remaining dual rolled
Schools pushing children out through off rolling, leading to pupils moving into Alternative Provision, non-elective home education or leaving for other schools
The National Picture
Nationally, the rate of PEX and FTE decreased as expected. But looking at the Autumn term prior to the impact of the pandemic, there were 3,200 PEX in 2019/20 which is actually a 05 per cent increase on the figures from 2018/19. For FTE – currently being called ‘suspensions’ – there was a 14 per cent increase on the previous academic year’s figures for the same term.
The number of PEX in primary schools increased by 20 per cent. The increase in secondary schools was 03 per cent. The numbers in specialist schools was described as ‘stable’.
Persistent disruptive behaviour continues to be the most common reason given by schools for both PEX and FTE.
For FTE, the number increased in primary schools by 21 per cent. In secondary schools, it increased by 12 per cent. For special schools, the number actually decreased by 13 per cent.
Boys overall have more than three times the number of PEX compared to girls. PEX and FTE numbers rise as pupils age, but still reach a peak at the age of 14 years.
Pupils on Free School Meals (FSM) are more likely to to have a PEX or FTE than pupils who are not, although the statistics for both have decreased.
When it comes to pupils with special Educational Needs (SEN) the exclusion rate is much higher. The PEX rate for pupils with an EHCP is 0.10 and for those with SEN but no EHCP, so on SEN support, the rate is 0.20. For pupils without SEN, the rate is 0.04.
The FTE rate is 11.70 for pupils with EHCPs and 10.98 for pupils on SEN Support, compared to 2.43 for pupils without SEN.
The highest rates of exclusions went to pupils with a primary need recorded as Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH). This would be consistent with the majority of pupils excluded for ‘persistent disruptive behaviour’ indicating the needs not being met of pupils with Send.
Gypsy and Roma pupils still have the highest rates of PEX and FTEs. Pupils of mixed White and Black Caribbean ethnicity have the second highest rate of PEX. And, Pupils from Traveller or Irish Heritage have the second highest rate of FTE.
The Bristol picture
The Bristol picture is complicated and of course, the city’s particularly unique Send crisis will have impacted on exclusion statistics.
In Bristol last year, there were 4 PEX and 3,367 FTEs. The table below shows the Bristol rate in the left hand column against the England rate in the far right.
It is perhaps surprising that special schools still managed 81 FTE and 1 PEX, considering the educational settings should be fully set up to meet the needs of Send pupils.
The number of FTE as usual surges once pupils are in secondary schools, likely indicating a lack of early intervention in Bristol primary schools. This was something Bristol City Council was tasked to improve through a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) after its Ofsted and CQC Joint Send Inspection in 2019.
The table below shows Bristol exclusions for each pupil from different ethnicities. The wording has been taken from exactly how the DfE records ethnicity and characteristics when compiling their statistics.
The proportion of pupils from Black African and White and Black Caribbean heritage being issued FTE is very high. Again this year, the number of pupils from Gypsy and Roma backgrounds being given FTEs is also extremely high, with 96 FTEs given to a Bristol pupil population of 109.
One of the best ways to compare data from the pandemic impacted year to that of previous years is to go by the Autumn term. Looking at the Autumn data for 2018/19 and 2019/20 in Bristol, the number of PEX and FTE in primary school has significantly increased. In secondary schools, the number of FTE dropped. But the Bristol picture is significant here. There is a lack of specialist school places in the city and an extremely high rate of the use of Alternative Provision (AP). The decrease of of FTE can potentially be further explored in the significant rise of AP.
The 04 PEX in Bristol, were all given to pupils with Send. Three of those PEX were given to pupils on SEN Support but without an EHCP. Two of those were in primary school, one in secondary school. And, one PEX was given to a pupil with an EHCP in a special school. This data shows that pupils with Send continue to be disproportionately affected by school exclusions.
This can be further seen in the reasons given for pupils being excluded from school. Persistent Disruptive Behaviour was the most common reason for pupils being given a FTE in Bristol. Send related exclusions are also highly likely to be found under physical assault, threatening behaviour, damage to property and ‘other,’ particularly for autistic pupils and those with SEMH needs. Both of these are high level of need in Bristol Send, with SEMH one of the fastest growing needs in the city.
The reasons listed for the PEX in Bristol were:
Primary School: Physical assault against an adult – 1
Primary School: Persistent disruptive behaviour – 1
Secondary School: Persistent disruptive behaviour – 1
Special School: ‘Other’ – 1
FTEs in Bristol, start as young as age four years and under, with 18 FTE going to pupils who are just starting in their education. The FTE numbers increase before surging at age 12 in secondary school. This again can be attributed to a lack of early intervention during primary school years. It is also reflective of pupils who are struggling under the Bristol Send Crisis, especially those for whom Bristol City Council were unlawfully turning down Education Health and Care Needs Assessments (EHCNA) in 2016.
A lack of specialist school places means pupils are having to be held in mainstream settings when their EHCPs say they are legally entitled to specialist provision. This is also likely to be behind school exclusion numbers in secondary years.
Disadvantage also affects exclusion number, with pupils on Free School Meals (FSM) more likely to be give an FTE.
And, boys in Bristol are also statistically much more at risk of receiving a PEX and/or a FTE.
The Top Ten Primary Schools with Highest Number of FTE in Bristol
Filton Avenue Primary School- 39
Nova Primary School – 36
The Kingfisher School – 31
Henbury Court Primary Academy – 28
St Pius X RC Primary School – 28
Cabot Primary School – 24
Badocks Wood E-ACT Academy – 21
Air Balloon Hill Primary School – 21
Hareclive E-ACT Academy – 18
St Werburgh’s Primary School – 17
May Park Primary School – 17
Top Ten Secondary Schools with Higest FTEs in Bristol
Blaise High School – 414
The City Academy – 385
St Bernadette Catholic Secondary School – 259
Oasis Academy Brightstowe – 198
Bristol Brunel Academy – 195
Bristol Metropolitan Academy -133
Oasis Academy Brislington -133
Bridge Learning Campus – 118
Cotham School – 109
Merchants Academy – 104
The Top Four Special Schools with FTE in Bristol
Bristol Gateway School – 32
Knowle dge – 17
Woodstock School – 11
Elmfield School for Deaf children – 9
The Schools Issuing the PEX
Bristol Gateway School – 1
St Bernadette Catholic secondary School – 1
Redfield Educate Together – 1
Henbury Court Primary Academy – 1