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Flintshire school pupils suspended for violence, sexual harassment and racism, report reveals

Flintshire pupils have been excluded for sexual harassment and violence. Posed by models

HUNDREDS of Flintshire schoolchildren are being suspended for sexual harassment, racist behaviour and violence toward teachers and their classmates every year.

A council document obtained by the Chronicle also shows more than 1,000 pupils have been excluded for offences also including possession or use of weapons, threatening and dangerous behaviour, bullying and theft in the past three years.

From September 2009-July 2012, 181 primary pupils and 894 high school students and were temporarily suspended – with nine kicked out permanently.

The number of ‘fixed-term’ exclusions across the board included:

424 for violence towards pupils

282 for offences of violence against members of staff

112 for dangerous or threatening behaviour

54 for bullying

32 for substance misuse

11 for carrying a weapon

11 for sexual harassment

nine for racism.

Teaching unions said the statistics were ‘clearly worrying’ – and claimed poor parenting plays a part in children’s bad behaviour.

Suzanne Nantcurvis – NASUWT’s national executive member for North Wales – added: “There is often a lack of helpful parental intervention.”

And Liz Camino, Flintshire secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said social media websites – such as Facebook and Twitter – ‘have a lot to answer for’.

The longest primary school exclusion was 30 days – for violence toward a member of staff in 2010-11.

The figures show there was an average of 13,286 pupils in Flintshire’s junior schools over the three years, and a third of the county’s 75 primaries suspended children.

Over the same period all 12 Flintshire high schools excluded students – with one suspending 80 in 2011/12.

The lengths ranged from half a day for disruptive behaviour to 41 days for violence against a fellow pupil.

Other lengthy sanctions included 38 days for violence toward a member of staff, 26 days for substance misuse and 20 days for sexual harassment.

Pupils were excluded for defiance (276 overall), verbal abuse (241), disruptive behaviour (127) and damage to property (28).

The report prepared for Flintshire County Council’s lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee said: “There is an ongoing concern about the number of pupils in some of our high schools who are receiving multiple fixed term exclusions in an academic year.

“It is these pupils who are causing the majority of disruption.”

Mrs Camino said the social networking sites cause a lot of problems – particularly in high schools – and told the Chronicle incidents can often be traced back to ‘something that happened on Facebook two or three days ago’.

“You can have children come in who’ve spent half their night on Facebook and they’re not fit to be in school,” she said.

“The amount of cyber-bullying that goes on is horrific. Social networking has a lot to answer for.”

Mrs Nantcurvis added: “The school becomes the focus for a lot of problems – things spill over.”

The report says the number of pupils kicked out for good has dropped from 24 in 2003/4 to one last year.

Mrs Nantcurvis said expulsions were usually reserved for ‘extreme circumstances... a last resort’.

Mrs Camino claimed children arriving at school ‘not learning ready’ because of ‘deficiencies in parenting’ also causes discipline problems.

She said teachers can often find themselves fighting ‘a losing battle’, and ‘a lot of children are on to a loser from the start’.

“It’s certainly not the fault of the schools, they are doing all the right things,” she added.

“In the scheme of things we’re talking about small numbers, and all credit to the schools in Flintshire that they are keeping so many in mainstream education.

“Schools, considering the pressures on them, come up with the goods to provide a good education despite the expectations on teachers changing almost term by term.”