Autumn term 2022/23

Suspensions and permanent exclusions in England

This is the latest data
UK statistics authority quality mark
Published
Next update
Last updated
See all updates (1) for Autumn term 2022/23
  1. Name of release updated.

Release type

Introduction

This publication presents statistics on suspensions and permanent exclusions across state-funded schools.

The publication includes data on:

  • reasons schools report for suspending and excluding pupils
  • suspensions and permanent exclusions by pupil characteristics

The data has been collected in the school census. Data for earlier years is also included.

The latest release provides data from the autumn term (Sep to Dec) 2022/23. The publication will next be updated with spring term 2022/23 data in April 2024, followed by a full year release covering the whole of the 2022/23 academic year in July 2024, similar to previous years.

Data covering the full 2021/22 academic year is available within the explore data section of this publication, or for a full commentary see the 2021/22 summer term publication.

Whilst the title of the release has changed from ‘Permanent exclusions and suspensions in England’ to ‘Suspensions and permanent exclusions in England’, the statistics and content published remain the same.


Headline facts and figures - 2022/23

The figures shown in this publication refer to termly suspensions and permanent exclusions in the autumn term 2022/23. The latest data covering a full academic year are available under ‘Explore data’. For a more detailed commentary, see the publication for summer term 2021/22, or under ‘Past releases’ in the right sidebar.

Permanent exclusion numbers have increased compared to previous terms

In autumn term 2022/23, there were 3,100 permanent exclusions. This is an increase from 2,100 in autumn 2021/22 but is slightly lower than the final pre-pandemic autumn term (2019/20) when there were 3,200 permanent exclusions. 

The rate of permanent exclusions is 0.04, equivalent to 4 permanent exclusions for every 10,000 pupils. This is similar to rates seen before the pandemic, which remained around 0.03 and 0.04.

Suspensions have also increased

There were 247,400 suspensions in autumn term 2022/23. This is also an increase compared to the previous autumn term, when there were 183,800 suspensions and is higher than the final pre-pandemic autumn term when there were 178,400 suspensions. Suspensions are typically higher in autumn term than in spring and summer.

The rate of suspensions was 2.96, equivalent to 296 suspensions for every 10,000 pupils. The rate in the previous autumn term, 2021/22, was 2.21. The rate in autumn 2019/20, before the pandemic, was 2.17.

The most common reason for suspensions and permanent exclusions was persistent disruptive behaviour

Persistent disruptive behaviour was included as a reason in 55% of all suspensions and 49% of all permanent exclusions in autumn term 2022/23. This is in line with previous terms and years where this reason was the most commonly recorded.

Explore data and files used in this release

  • View or create your own tables

    View tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from open data using our table tool

  • Data catalogue

    Browse and download open data files from this release in our data catalogue

  • Data guidance

    Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance

  • Download all data (ZIP)

    Download all data available in this release as a compressed ZIP file

Permanent exclusions

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). A rate of  0.01 would be equivalent to 1 permanent exclusion for every  10,000 pupils.

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.

Permanent exclusions have increased in comparison to the previous year

There were 3,100 permanent exclusions in autumn term 2022/23, a rate of 0.04, equivalent to 4 permanent exclusions for every 10,000 pupils. 

This is an increase compared to 1,700 and 2,100 in autumn terms 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively, but remains slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels (3,200 in autumn term 2019/20). While permanent exclusions and suspensions were possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the restrictions in place over this period will have had varying impacts on the number of permanent exclusions in each term and caution should be taken when comparing across years. The table below shows this impact, in particular, the 2019/20 summer term and also the 2020/21 spring term where the number of permanent exclusions decreased heavily.

Data shows that permanent exclusions are typically higher in autumn term each year than the subsequent spring and summer terms, however in 2021/22 this trend was not visible with small increases each term.

The rate of permanent exclusions varies by school type

The number and rate of permanent exclusions is highest in secondary, making up 86% of permanent exclusions in autumn 2022/23, with a rate of 0.07 or 7 permanent exclusions in every 10,000 pupils. While the number of permanent exclusions is very low in special schools, it remains higher than in primary schools.

Although the rates of permanent exclusions in all school phases have increased since the pandemic, rates are now similar to pre-pandemic in all but special schools.

In primary schools, the rate of permanent exclusions in autumn 2022/23 was 0.01, the same as in the pre-pandemic autumn term 2019/20. In secondary schools, the rate of 0.07 was slightly lower than pre-pandemic (0.08). In special schools, the rate of 0.03 was slightly higher than pre-pandemic (0.02).

The number of permanent exclusions has increased across all school types

Compared to the previous autumn term, permanent exclusions

  • increased for secondary pupils (+48%)
  • increased for primary pupils (+67%)
  • increased for special school pupils (+96%)

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 underlying data refer to a total of 4,300 reasons given for exclusion in autumn 2022/23, this relates to the reasons given for the 3,100 permanent exclusions that occurred overall.

The most common reason recorded for permanent exclusions was persistent disruptive behaviour. There were 1,518 permanent exclusions where this reason was recorded, 49% of all permanent exclusions. This was followed by physical assault against a pupil, with 720 permanent exclusions (23%) including this reason, and verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against an adult, with 563 permanent exclusions (18%) including this reason.

Suspensions

Suspension rate definition

Suspensions, previously known as 'fixed period exclusions', refers to when a pupil is excluded from a school for a set period of time. A suspension can involve a part of the school day and it does not have to be for a continuous period. A pupil may be suspended for one or more periods up to a maximum of 45 school days in a single academic year. This total includes suspensions from previous schools covered by the exclusion legislation. 

The suspension rate is calculated as the total number of suspensions, divided by the total number of pupils (x100).

While permanent exclusions and suspensions were possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions will have had an impact on the numbers presented and caution should be taken when comparing across years and terms.

The number of suspensions has increased

There were 247,400 suspensions in autumn term 2022/23. This continues the increasing trend in suspensions prior to the pandemic (that is up to autumn 2019/20) and is an increase of 35% from autumn 2021/22, and an increase of 39% from autumn 2019/20, the last full term before the COVID-19 pandemic.

National restrictions affected 2020/21, in particular in the spring term when attendance was prioritised for key worker and vulnerable children. There were also restrictions in 2019/20 affecting the spring term and summer term. The table below shows the impact of national restrictions and school closures, in particular the 2019/20 summer term and also the 2020/21 spring term where the number of suspensions decreased heavily. 

Prior to the pandemic, the number and rate of suspensions had been increasing gradually, primarily driven by increases in secondary schools. This has continued after the low rates seen during the pandemic, and the latest term saw another increase in rates across each school phase.

The increase is present across all school types

Compared to the previous autumn term, suspensions

  • increased for secondary pupils (+36%)
  • increased for primary pupils (+23%)
  • increased for special school pupils (+26%)

Almost half of all suspensions are for a single day or less

47% of suspensions in the autumn term were for one day or less, and 99% of suspensions were for one week or less.

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 underlying data refer to a total of 294,300 reasons given for suspension in autumn 2022/23, this relates to the reasons given for the 247,400 suspensions that occurred overall.

The most common reason recorded for suspension was persistent disruptive behaviour, as with permanent exclusions. There were 135,041 suspensions where this reason was recorded, 55% of all suspensions. The second most common reason was verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against an adult, with 48,896 suspensions (20%) including this reason.

Regional data

Both suspension and permanent exclusion rates vary across regions and local authorities.

In line with the national trend, the rates of suspensions and permanent exclusions have gone up across all regions. 

Both the highest suspension and permanent exclusions rates are in the North East, at 4.65 and 0.06.  The lowest suspension rate is in Outer London at 1.47 and the lowest permanent exclusion rate is in Inner London at 0.01.

The map below shows the suspension and permanent exclusion rates for each local authority in autumn term 2022/23, by school type.

Pupil characteristics

Suspensions and permanent exclusions rates vary by pupil characteristics

The table below shows these rates broken down by free school meal eligibility (FSM), gender, special educational need provision (SEN) and year group. For context, the permanent exclusions rate for autumn term 2022/23 was 0.04 and suspension rate was 2.96. Data for unclassified/unknown gender, FSM status, SEN, year group and ethnicity are not presented in the tables due to very low numbers, which lead to volatile rates.

Gender - The suspension rate for male pupils is almost double that for female pupils, this gap has narrowed from the previous autumn term. Male pupils have a higher permanent exclusion rate than female pupils, with permanent exclusion rates of 0.05 and 0.02 respectively.

Free school meals (FSM) - The suspension rate for FSM eligible pupils is more than 4 times that for non FSM eligible pupils. The permanent exclusion rate for FSM eligible pupils is 0.10, compared to 0.02 non FSM eligible. 

Special educational needs (SEN) - The rate of suspensions among those pupils who have an education, health and care plan (EHC plan)  is 7.78, which is lower than for those with SEN without an EHC plan (SEN support) at 8.16. This compares to 1.94 for pupils with no SEN. Pupils with SEN without an EHC plan also had the highest rate of  permanent exclusions at 0.12.

Year group - The suspensions and permanent exclusions rate tends to increase as age and year group increase, to a point. The highest rate for suspensions was in Year 9 and permanent exclusions in Year 10, before small drops for both in higher year groups.

Suspension and permanent exclusion rates vary by ethnicity

Gypsy/Roma pupils had both the highest suspension rate at 12.01 in the autumn term, and the highest permanent exclusion rate at 0.18. Pupils from Traveller of Irish Heritage ethnic group had the second highest rates of both suspensions and permanent exclusions. 

Pupils in the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups had the lowest rates of suspensions and permanent exclusions.

Further data

The headline figures in this publication cover the autumn term 2022/23 and comparisons to previous terms are presented. The next publication in the series will add data for spring 2022/23.

The latest full academic year for which data is available is 2021/22. This data is available at https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/permanent-and-fixed-period-exclusions-in-england/2021-22-summer-term  or via the past releases drop down in the top right toolbar of this publication.

Further data is available in the data catalogue, or you can create your own tables using the table tool including:

  • Permanent exclusions and suspensions by pupil characteristics
  • Permanent exclusions and suspensions in pupil referral units (PRUs)
  • Suspensions - Number of days missed
  • Suspensions - Duration of suspensions
  • Suspensions - Average days missed
  • Suspensions - Number of suspensions

Help and support

Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

National statistics

These accredited official statistics have been independently reviewed by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). They comply with the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Accredited official statistics are called National Statistics in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Accreditation signifies their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Our statistical practice is regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing regulation@statistics.gov.uk or via the OSR website.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Suspensions and permanent exclusions in England statistics and data:

School Census Statistics Team

Email: schools.statistics@education.gov.uk
Contact name: School Census Statistics Team

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

Opening times:
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays)