Luton has been revealed as a hotspot for school bullying in the East of England in new research that explores the number of exclusions across the country.
Using the latest Department for Education data, Oxford Home Schooling identified the regions which experienced the biggest increases and decreases in bullying exclusions between 2011/12 and 2016/17.
Since 2012, Luton has seen a 168% increase, from 19 up to 51, the East of England has seen a 16% increase in the number of fixed-term and permanent exclusions for this reason over the five years. Statistics from the same research also shows that in Luton there is now one exclusion for every 737 pupils.
But Luton Council says bullying is not a common reason for exclusion in Luton. A spokesman for the council said: “The number of exclusions from Luton schools has increased between 2011 and 2017, however the proportion of children excluded for bullying is broadly the same (2%) in 2017 as it was in 2011.
“Bullying is not a common reason for exclusion in Luton or nationally. It is ranked 7th or 8th on the list of reasons given by schools for excluding pupils. The data in the report groups together all exclusions of any length of time. In 2017 -18 no Luton pupil was permanently excluded for bullying.
“It is important to note that the period referenced also coincides with a very significant increase in Luton’s school population. In 2016/17 the 51 exclusions for bullying are set in a context of a school population of almost 40,000. Bullying of any form in Luton’s schools will not be tolerated.
“The rise in exclusions in recent years reflects the determination of schools to send out a strong message that bullying is not acceptable. Whilst schools will always attempt to resolve any such issue, where perpetrators are unwilling to cease their behaviour, serious action needs to be taken for the benefit of those being bullied and the wider school community.”