Eastbourne schools expelled 20 pupils and suspended 738 last academic year

Schools in Eastbourne have handed out 20 expulsions and 738 suspensions in the last academic year.

Figures obtained by the Herald under the Freedom of Information Act show the number of times in 2011/12 local schools have used the most extreme sanctions available to them to deal with unruly pupils.

And, the investigation also revealed that since October 1 last year there have been 18 members of staff in Eastbourne schools who have been the victims of violence at the hands of pupils.

Dave Brinson, who is the local head of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the statistics showed some of increasingly difficult conditions some menbers were having to work under but was quick to stress that attacks on staff were still relatively rare.

“The thing we would be most concerned about,” he said, “is that if violence does occur against a member of staff the first thing a school looks at is whether or not it is safe for both the teacher and the other pupils for that student to remain in school.

“There seems to be a lot of political pressure trying to limit the power of schools and headteachers to permanently expel children.

“While of course no teacher wants to see a child expelled, there has to be the option for a headteacher to take that measure if, in their professional opinion, ist is the righ decision.”

The figures seem to support Mr Brinson’s hypothesis that nationally there is an increasing trend against expelling troublesome youngsters.

During 2010/11 there were 27 permanent expulsions in Eastbourne schools – seven more than 2011-12. The number of suspensions also dropped, from 746 to 738.

And, while it is impossible to determine whether or not those dips are down to anything other than changing circumstances or instead represent the start of a wider trend, Mr Brinson was adamant expelling and suspending pupils are a necessary evil.

“No decision about a child’s future is taken lightly but that option needs to be there.

“In instances of violence or drug dealing, headteachers can’t have their hands tied.”