Luton is facing a soaring rise in the number of pupils expelled from school – with statistics showing they have tripled in the past five years.
The figures, revealed through a Freedom of Information request, show that 19 pupils (0.05%) were expelled from Luton schools in 2013-14.
However, in 2017-18, that figure had climbed up to 63 pupils (0.17%), with a steady rise shown in each of the preceding years.
The NSPCC has warned that rising pupil exclusions have a damaging effect on children’s well-being and also affect other pupils within schools.
The complete figures are as follows:
> 2017-2018 – 63 pupils exluded out of 36,874 in the borough (0.17%).
> 2016-2017 – 64 pupils were excluded out of 35,804 in the borough (0.18%).
> 2015-2016 – 43 pupils were excluded out of 35,804 in the borough (0.12%).
> 2014-2015 – 30 pupils were excluded out of 34,447 in the borough (0.09%).
> 2013-2014 – 19 pupils were excluded out of 35,267 in the borough (0.05%).
Cllr David Franks, leader of the Lib Dems on the council, said: “The figures are truly alarming, but the increase did not just happen – it was caused.
“Just like the increase in knife crime, the increase in violence associated with the drugs trade, it all comes from the massive cuts in spending on youth services, schools’ family assistant service and local neighbourhood police teams.
“We must get back to investing in our young people. And it’s not just about money, we have to invest some time, some energy, encouragement and support.
“The young people who took time off from school last week to demonstrate their concern for climate change really made me feel proud of Luton’s young people. Today’s young people are our future. Most of our youngsters are worthy of our pride, we have to support those who need some help to make a constructive contribution.”
A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “The number of permanent exclusions has been increasing at both a national and local level.
“Whilst Luton, like many other urban areas, has seen an increase in complex cases and anti-social behaviour, there are numerous other reasons for the increase in permanent exclusions.
“[These] include the impact of school budget pressures and the reduction of school support staff, lack of flexibility in the curriculum, particularly in relation to vocational opportunities, a significant increase in the pupil population in the town, and increased pressure on support services.
“Bespoke packages of support are put in place for pupils who are permanently excluded; pupils are reintegrated back into mainstream school wherever possible.
“We are currently developing our Inclusion Strategy with a number of work streams aimed at reducing the number of permanent exclusions.”