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‘Shockingly high’ number of exclusions from Norfolk schools raised in Parliament

PUBLISHED: 12:05 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 12 September 2018

Norman Lamb MP. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Norman Lamb MP. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

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The number of children being excluded from Norfolk schools is “shockingly high” and systems need to be changed, one of the county’s MPs has told Parliament.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb highlighted how children from disadvantaged backgrounds, those who have experienced adversity, and those with special educational needs or mental ill health are disproportionately excluded,

He made his comments in an intervention during the Education Select Committee’s statement to the House of Commons chamber on the publication of their report ‘Forgotten children: alternative provision and the scandal of ever increasing exclusions’.

Liberal Democrat Mr Lambe said: “The number of children excluded in my county of Norfolk is shockingly high, and excluded children are often then put on a waiting list for other provision because all the units are full.

“When we know that, as the right hon gentleman indicated, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with special educational needs, children with mental ill health and children who have experienced adversity of various forms in their lives are disproportionately affected by the propensity to exclude, it is vital that we change how the process operates.

“Does he agree that the fact that there is such variability between schools, with some well-performing, highly academic schools, often in disadvantaged areas, managing to avoid excluding children, demonstrates that it is possible to avoid it?

“That should be the rule for every school, and schools should remain accountable for the children they exclude.”

Committee chair Robert Halfon MP responded: “The right hon gentleman makes a powerful point. As I understand it, schools in Scotland do not exclude any pupils—perhaps one or two over the past year—and I do not understand why there are some great schools that do not exclude pupils whereas others are excluding many.

“I am not against exclusion, and schools should have the right to exclude a pupil in certain circumstances, but we must learn from the examples of best practice in the schools that seem to succeed without using exclusions, which seem to have become a first resort rather than a last resort for some.”

Government statistics show that in 2016/17, there were 45 permanent exclusions from state-funded Norfolk primary schools and 157 from secondary schools.

In both cases, that meant Norfolk schools contributed more than a quarter of the permanent exclusions for the whole of the East of England.

There were also 1,134 fixed period exclusions from state-funded primary schools and 4,191 from secondary schools.

In Suffolk there were 24 permanent exclusions from primary schools and 69 from secondary schools. Suffolk also recorded 1,741 fixed term exclusions from primary schools and 2,783 from secondary schools.

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