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Concern as school suspensions rise by 40% in Harrogate and Knaresborough

Concerns have been raised after the number of children suspended in Harrogate and Knaresborough schools rose by more than 40% since last year.

Concern as school suspensions rise by 40% in Harrogate and Knaresborough

Concerns have been raised after the number of children suspended in Harrogate and Knaresborough schools rose by more than 40% since last year.

Figures recently published by North Yorkshire Council revealed there were 459 suspensions in 2022/23 — a rise from 314 in the previous year.

The most common reason for suspensions was “persistent disruptive behaviour”, according to a report.

The chief inspector of Ofsted has said that behaviour in schools has deteriorated since the covid pandemic, with some pupils refusing to comply with rules, talking back to teachers and walking out of class mid-lesson.

The topic was raised at a meeting of local councillors in Harrogate on Thursday.

Cllr Paul Haslam (Independent, Bilton & Nidd Gorge) said he was “concerned” at the level of suspensions in the area.

He said:

“What we’ve got is a symptom and not a cause. I’m keen to understand the causes of suspensions. I do not underestimate the commitment of teachers.

“As a past school governor and trustee. I know how hard they work but how can we best support them? Can we catch [poor behaviour] at primary school so it doesn’t happen in secondary school?”

Last week, youth education charity Impetus published research that found children suspended from school see their exam results suffer.

It suggested some children were found to be lagging a year behind their peers with some unable to achieve a standard pass in GCSE maths and English.

Amanda Newbold, assistant director for education and skills at North Yorkshire Council, responded to Cllr Haslam and said the rise in suspensions reflected a national trend.

She also said the figures were “linked disproportionately” to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Ms Newbold said:

“What we’ve seen is an increase in suspensions and exclusions across the county. Those numbers have risen over the last few years. We can link it back to wider issues in families rather than school-specific issues.

"We’ve focused on all things inclusion this academic year and are offering support around suspension and exclusions.

“We’ve had headteacher workshops to make sure we can do as much preventative work as possible but it will take time to see outcomes.”

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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