The disciplinary powers that schools currently have, including suspension and permanent exclusion, remained in place throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. The statutory guidance on the suspension and permanent exclusion of pupils from local-authority-maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units is clear all decision must be lawful, rational, reasonable, fair and proportionate. Permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort.
Permanent exclusion rate definition
A permanent exclusion refers to a pupil who is excluded and who will not come back to that school (unless the exclusion is overturned). This data only includes permanent exclusions which have been upheld by the governing body or Independent Review Panel (IRP), and not those which are still ongoing. The permanent exclusion rate is calculated as the number of permanent exclusions divided by the number of pupils (x100)
The number of permanent exclusions has decreased in 2019/20 from 7,900 to 5,100. This is driven by the effect of the national lockdown that started in the Spring term, as indicated by the termly data below.
The overall rate for permanent exclusions is 0.06 in 2019/20, down from 0.10. This is the equivalent of 6 in every 10,000 pupils. This reduction is also reflected across school types.
Looking across terms, there were 3,200 permanent exclusions in Autumn term 2019/20. This is a 5% increase on the same period in 2018/19 (from 3,000). Across school types, permanent exclusions
- increased by 20% in primary schools (77 permanent exclusions)
- increased by 3% in secondary schools (77 permanent exclusions)
- were stable in special schools
The first national lockdown occurred on 23 March 2020, during the 2019/20 Spring term. The number of permanent exclusions in this term is down from 2,700 in 2018/19 to 1,850.
There were only 40 permanent exclusions in the 2019/2020 Summer term. Following the lockdown, schools were only open to pupils of key workers and vulnerable children and all other children were learning remotely.
The most common reason for permanent exclusion was persistent disruptive behaviour
The proportion of permanent exclusions due to each reason have remained broadly similar despite decreasing numbers.
Just over a third (34%) of all permanent exclusions were for persistent disruptive behaviour in 2019/20, similar to to 2018/19 (35%). This equates to 1,700 permanent exclusions in 2019/20, down from 2,800 in 2018/19, showing the impact of school closures.
The proportion of drug and alcohol related permanent exclusions increased from 9% in 2018/19 to 10% in 2019/20 and the proportion of permanent exclusions for physical assault against an adult increased from 10 to 12%.