Rise in school exclusions in Derbyshire for drug and alcohol issues

Exclusions for drug and alcohol issues at Derbyshire's schools have risen, figures reveal.

Monday, 11th January 2021, 4:36 pm

A rise in the number of exclusions across England has prompted the creation of a new cross-party group of MPs, to reduce avoidable expulsions of vulnerable children.

Department for Education figures show Derbyshire schools excluded students 155 times for drug and alcohol-related issues in 2018-19 – 13 permanently and 142 temporarily.

This was an increase on the year before, when there were 125.

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The number of alcohol and drug-related exclusions in Derbyshire schools has risen in the last year. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

All exclusions occurred in state-funded secondary schools, with none in special schools or in primary schools.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics said the statistics were ‘worrying’, and warned that unless the underlying causes were addressed the number excluded may continue to rise.

Dr Piers Henriques, head of communications at the charity, said: "So often, for young people, substance misuse occurs as a coping mechanism for wider challenges, such as mental health problems or family discord.

"School exclusion will be justified in individual cases.

"However, it is only with improved support and inclusion for young people with hard lives that we will begin to see these numbers fall.

"We need better, earlier interventions in schools that seek to support rather than bluntly punish these young people."

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said the future looks ‘desperately bleak’ for many children forced out of school.

James Scales, head of education at the CSJ, said: "Just four per cent of pupils who sit their GCSEs in alternative providers get a standard pass in English and maths.

"By bringing together cross-party voices and sector leaders, this new parliamentary group gives us a chance to put that right – both by acting earlier to reduce avoidable exclusions and by being more ambitious for excluded pupils."

There were 5,184 total exclusions in Derbyshire in 2018-19, an increase of two per cent on the year before, when there were 5,079.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We are clear that expulsion should only be used as a last resort, and should not mean exclusion from high quality education or support.

“We will always back headteachers to use expulsion when required as part of creating calm and disciplined classrooms, which bring out the best in every pupil."