The National Union of Teachers has said there is “no quick fix” for Lewisham high schools which have the highest exclusion rates in inner-city London according to new government statistics.
The figures, released by the Department for Education, suggest that secondary school students in the area are the most frequently affected by permanent exclusions, which are ten times more common than Tower Hamlets.
For every five teenagers who are excluded in Tower Hamlets, more than 50 youngsters are expelled from schools in Lewisham.
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “While clearly behaviour issues have to be addressed for the sake of the whole school community, there is no quick fix.”
Courtney warned of difficulties that the education system faced due to continued government spending cuts, suggesting that a less diverse curriculum and a lack of student support services could be to blame for the disruption.
Schools’ ability to manage particularly difficult cases has been adversely affected by cuts to local authority budgets, in particular Behaviour Support Services, and the fragmentation of the school system into academy and free schools.
Courtney said: “Narrowing the school curriculum, the reduction in creative subjects and the removal of some play times for primary pupils may all be factors affecting behaviour in schools. These issues need to be addressed to ensure that all pupils are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Some of the most common reasons for permanent exclusions highlighted in the government data included disruptive behaviour, assault against both teachers and pupils and drug related incidents. Verbal assaults were also a frequent reason for temporary exclusions.
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “We are very concerned with the high level of pupil exclusions from our schools. We are currently reviewing our processes and provision for alternative education, aiming to identify pupils at risk of exclusion at an earlier stage and give them the support they need to prevent exclusion.”
The council encouraged parents to play a more active part in countering behaviour patterns that might put children at risk of being excluded.
“This preventative approach also involves working with children’s families. Our schools are involved in and supporting this work, as are health services as we see supporting young people’s mental wellbeing as a central part of preventing exclusion.”
Although Lewisham has a disproportionately high number of permanent expulsions compared to other boroughs, Hackney recorded the most temporary exclusions. The area reported 1,476 students had received a fixed period exclusion, compared to Lewisham’s 1,113.
Use our interactive data charts to see how your East London borough compares and what the main causes of exclusion are in your school catchment area.
The data used in this report is available to view and download online at gov.uk
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