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1,785 exclusions in a year from Cambridgeshire's academy secondary schools

Male teacher is teaching a group of teenagers in a high school lesson.
Male teacher is teaching a group of teenagers in a high school lesson.

The number of pupils excluded from academy secondary schools in Cambridgeshire is coming under scrutiny.

According to a recent Freedom of Information request from Cambridgeshire County Council, 1,785 pupils were excluded from schools in 2015/16.

The reasons behind the exclusions included bullying, damage, drug and alcohol related incidents, physcial assaults on adults and pupils, racist abuse, sexual misconduct and theft.

The figures for permanent exclusions were combined with those for fixed-term ones because the low numbers involved could have led to the identification of the individual children.

There may be more than one reason why a pupil is excluded permanently or for a fixed term.

There have been 838 exclusions already carried out up to March 2 this year.

Some of the exclusions in both years related to pupils with special need requirements.

Cllr Joan Whitehead, chair of the children and young people’s committee, admitted that the apparently high figures are an issue and suggested the problem could lie with the fragmentation of the education system.

She said: “I feel very frustrated that we as a county council, as a local authority, really can’t do very much about it because it’s been taken out of our hands by the secondary schools, the academies.

“And of course they’ve got their eye on their results and their league tables, they don’t want pupils there who are going to spoil their record.

“It’s not a good situation at all.

“The reasons pupils get excluded from school are very varied.

“I mean, sometimes it does get to the stage where the school thinks that they can’t cope with them anymore, but they can refer them.

“The academies in Cambridgeshire decided to set up their own unit for dealing with highly disruptive children.

“One of the things that you could say is that this is a direct result of the fragmentation of the education system.

“Academies are responsible for their own admissions, and if they don’t want to take pupils, or if they exclude pupils, then it’s very difficult for anyone to do anything about it.”

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