Persistent disruptive behaviour was the most common reason for permanent exclusions at state-funded schools in Essex between 2016/2017 and 2020/21 – but the numbers expelled for that have almost halved in those four years.

Government data has revealed 136 youngsters were permanently excluded for persistent disruptive behaviour in that time.

But the numbers have improved – in 2020/2021 a total of 18 school students were excluded for persistent disruptive behaviour compared to 33 being permanently excluded for the same reason in 2016/2017.

Offences due to drug and alcohol misuse was the second-most common reason for exclusions – given 63 times since 2016, while physical assault against an adult was third with 57.

However the numbers permanently excluded because of that have almost halved – from 19 in 2016/17 to 10 in 20/21.

Non-specific “other” reasons was also a common reason with 56 cases as was physical assault against an pupil where there were 50 cases in the period.

A total of 441 children were permanently excluded from Essex state-funded schools between 2016 and 2021.

The figures are better than they were in 2016/2017 which saw 105 but there has been an uptick in the last two years from 74 to 79.

A specialist school is to be rebuilt to help accommodate numbers of children expelled from school.

Essex County Council is set to demolish the existing pupil referral unit at the Fairview Centre in Basildon and replace it with brand new teaching accommodation and facilities for 100 pupils.

It says the new building is required to replace the current classrooms and facilities which are no longer fit for purpose.

A statement as part of decision papers to be discussed on Tuesday May 24 said the new building will provide pupils with greater opportunity to gain further skills and certification, such as BTEC, enabling them greater opportunities upon leaving education.

Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council cabinet member for education excellence, life-long learning and employability said: “The need for school places for children and young adults with social and emotional mental health needs has been rising.

“We are determined to meet that need even though these are financially straitened times.

“The investment in the Fairview Centre in Basildon, utilising funding from the council and the Schools Forum, means Essex County Council can provide excellent education to many more children and young adults with additional and special educational needs in the county. Fairview is operated by the South Essex Children’s Support Service, an Essex maintained pupil referral unit with a strong record of improving outcomes for vulnerable children and young people.”

Below is a breakdown of how many times each reason was listed:

  1. Persistent disruptive behaviour – 136
  2. Drugs and alcohol-related – 63
  3. Physical assault against an adult – 57
  4. Other – 56
  5. Physical assault against a pupil – 50
  6. Verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against an adult – 28
  7. Verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against a pupil – 23
  8. Use or threat of use of an offensive weapon or prohibited item – 9 (2020/21 only)
  9. Damage – 7
  10. Sexual misconduct – 6
  11. Theft – 4
  12. Bullying – 1
  13. Racist abuse – 1
  14. Wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures in place to protect public health – 0 (2020/21 only)
  15. Inappropriate use of social media or online technology – 0 (2020/21 only)