Schools defend policy on excluding pupils

BRIGHOUSE schools are sending out a positive message to students that unruly behaviour will not be tolerated.

The number of students who have been excluded and suspended from the three state-funded high schools may have increased for 2009/10 (the most recent year for which data is available) but head teachers say this is because bad behaviour will not be tolerated.

Head teacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Anthony Smith said they were proud of the good behaviour and sense of community within the school. “Where this is challenged we will reluctantly take the decision to exclude to ensure the high expectations and standards we expect of our students is maintained,” he said.

“When we do exclude (and bear in mind the exclusions as a percentage are low compared to other schools nationally), we always work with the students and their parents to give them support and to ensure that they have the opportunity to not be excluded again as their behaviour is improved.”

Head at Rastrick, Helen Lennie, agreed. “Rastrick High School is a large community of over 1,400 students and to ensure it’s a safe, successful, harmonious place, our daily running is underpinned by a clear whole school behaviour policy which is supported by parents.

“We accept that young people need to learn about behaviour as well as academic subjects in a school setting and our policy ensures that there is support, guidance and encouragement for them to do so. It also includes a range of sanctions, exclusions being used for serious incidents. We work hard to reduce the number of exclusions, ideally hoping never to have to impose such sanctions. However, to maintain our high standards and orderly school community, it is unfortunately sometimes necessary.

Liz Cresswell, head teacher at Brighouse, said they work hard to maintain high standards of behaviour.

“The behaviour policy promotes values of respect and responsibility and is reinforced through a system of rewards and sanctions. I’m pleased to say that the rewards such as stickers, postcards, prizes and certificates far outnumber the punishments that are issued.

“Inevitably, however, with 1,400 teenagers in a school, there are times when sanctions and punishments are required and from time to time it is necessary to exclude pupils.”

The number of youngsters suspended at Brighouse High School was 61, for Hipperholme and Lightcliffe 82 and for Rastrick High 43. Only three pupils were expelled from Hipperholme and Lightcliffe and four from Rastrick.

Hipperholme and Lightcliffe gave 13 suspensions for drugs and alcohol related incidents and expelled one pupil and Brighouse suspended nine pupils.

The number of pupils suspended for bullying was low at all three schools but the number of theft-related exclusions has rocketed to 29 from 15 the previous year. Hipperholme and Lightcliffe handed out the most suspensions, which was six and Rastrick High gave out five. Brighouse again had none.

The figures have gone down across the other categories.