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).
Note on data coverage over the pandemic
While permanent exclusions and suspensions were possible throughout the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years, national restrictions will have had an impact on the numbers presented and caution should be taken when comparing across years.
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.
The number of permanent exclusions has increased
The number of permanent exclusions has increased from 3,900 in 2020/21 to 6,500 in in 2021/22. In the last full academic year before the pandemic, 2018/19, there were 7,900 permanent exclusions. The increases are seen across all school types. The number of permanent exclusions had previously been stable from 2016/17 to 2018/19, prior to the pandemic.
The overall rate increased to 0.08 from 0.05, this is the equivalent of 8 in every 10,000 pupils. This rate was 0.10 in 2018/19.
The large increase from 2020/21 reflects that national restrictions affected both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years, in particular in the Spring term 2020/21 when attendance was prioritised for key worker and vulnerable children and restrictions for all pupils in 2019/20 affecting the Spring term and Summer term.
Across all schools, permanent exclusions were highest in the Summer term in 2021/22, when there were 2,200 permanent exclusions. The number of permanent exclusions were stable across terms, with 2,100 in Autumn and 2,200 in Spring.
The chart below shows the number of permanent exclusions in each term from Autumn term 2018/19, and shows the impact of national restrictions and school closures in the 2019/20 Summer term and also the 2020/21 Spring term where the number of permanent exclusions decreased heavily.
The most common reason recorded for permanent exclusions was persistent disruptive behaviour
Prior to 2020/21, a single reason could be recorded for each suspension and permanent exclusion. From 2020/21, up to three reasons could be recorded. These reasons were recorded without weighting or prioritisation. As such, the sum of the number of reasons will not match the total number of suspensions or permanent exclusions from 2020/21.
Further, the following new 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
As multiple reasons could be recorded, the table below and underlaying data refer to a total of 8,700 reasons given for exclusion in 2021/22, this relates to the reasons given for the 6,500 permanent exclusions that occurred overall.
The most common reason recorded for permanent exclusions was persistent disruptive behaviour. There were 3,050 permanent exclusions where this reason was recorded, 47% of all permanent exclusions. This was followed by physical assault against a pupil, with 1,400 permanent exclusions including this reason (22%) and both verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against an adult and physical assault against an adult, with 1,000 permanent exclusions including these reasons (16%).