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Schools exclusions must be a last resort, says minister amid spike in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 17:10 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:10 20 March 2017

Norman Lamb MP  Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Norman Lamb MP Steve Parsons/PA Wire

An education minister has warned teachers school exclusions must be a last resort amid new figures which show a steep rise in the county.

Edward Timpson said he would discuss surging rates in the county with Norman Lamb after the North Norfolk MP raised it in the House of Commons.

Inspectors said earlier this month that the increase in permanent exclusions had left a special school for excluded children in Norfolk facing “significant barriers” to giving pupils a high-quality education.

The Short Stay School for Norfolk (SSSfN), which educates children who are permanently excluded, was judged by inspectors to require improvement - a downgrade on its previous good result.

Last year we reported that rising numbers had forced the SSSfN, to introduce a ‘one in, one out’ policy, and Norfolk County Council, which has a legal duty to find them places, scrambling to find other providers with spare capacity.

Mr Lamb raised the issue in education questions asking if minister shared his “horror” at the dramatic increase in the number of permanent exclusions in Norfolk - 269 in last academic year.

He said that at the last count 100 students were waiting for a place in the short stay school.

“Given the awful results outcomes for children who are permanently excluded, what message does he [the minister] send to Norfolk to sort out this unacceptable situation.”

Mr Timpson said: “Exclusions should always be a last resort and we need to make sure there are no inappropriate exclusions either in Norfolk or anywhere in the country. He said he would discuss the matter further at an already planned meeting.

Norfolk has one of the highest rates of permanent exclusions in the country. The number of pupils receiving a permanent exclusion has risen dramatically in recent years, with 296 pupils excluded in 2015/16 compared to just 170 in 2013/14. Mr Lamb said: “The dramatic rise in the number of excluded children in Norfolk is incredibly worrying, and I welcomed the minister’s statement that exclusion should only ever be used as a last resort. Regrettably, however, this too often appears not to be the case in Norfolk. He said students who displayed challenging behaviour should be given extra support.

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