Details of school expulsions in Eastbourne uncovered in FOI request

Mark Talbot, Principal at St Catherine's College, says a zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour has seen figures for suspensions rise
Mark Talbot, Principal at St Catherine's College, says a zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour has seen figures for suspensions rise

The number of pupils expelled or suspended from Eastbourne schools has been revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

And while St Catherine’s College has the worst record this year among local secondary schools for sending students home because of their bad behaviour, the school says it is because of its zero tolerance approach introduced last September.

Students at the school were either suspended or expelled this academic year for offences including drug and alcohol related issues, racist abuse, carrying weapons and attacking teachers.

The total of occasions where students were told to keep away from the school included 26 cases of physical assaults on other students, five of attacking staff members, and 35 cases of either verbally abusing staff or showing defiance to teachers.

The school also saw two cases relating to drugs, one case of having a weapon, one case of racist abuse and five alcohol related cases where the children were either suspended or expelled.

In the current academic year Eastbourne Academy has seen children expelled and suspended on a total of 70 occasions including three for drug-related matters, two for having a weapon, six for assaults on fellow pupils and four for bullying.

Of the 59 incidents this year at Cavendish there was one related to alcohol, five for physical attacks on staff and two for stealing.

At Willingdon the bulk of the exclusions were categorised as being for defiance of teachers (24), while there were also 10 incidents of physical assaults on pupils and two of racist abuse.

In the previous two years there was one case of a sexual assault on a pupil that resulted in an exclusion from Causeway as well of two incidents of what was categorised as “obscene behaviour” at the same school.

At Ratton there were 21 suspensions or exclusions and at Gildredge House 15.

St Catherine’s principal Mark Talbot said the college “takes a very firm line with discipline”.

“We will use exclusion from school where necessary. The rise in exclusions relates to a zero tolerance approach. Exclusion rates have fallen during the year and we anticipate this figure to fall further in the coming years.”

The figures – released by East Sussex County Council – show how many pupils were expelled or suspended in each academic year at the schools in the Eastbourne area. The reasons for children being sent home include assaulting staff and students, making threats, dealing drugs, sexual assaults, damaging property, bullying and having weapons.