THERE have been 723 exclusions from Bridlington’s two secondary schools for bad behaviour in the past four academic years.
The Free Press can reveal that the number of exclusions – 370 from Bridlington School and 353 from Headlands School – is amongst the highest in the East Riding, but headteachers say that the number is falling.
Some of the reasons why pupils were excluded from both schools include bullying, theft, damage, verbal threats or physical abuse against staff or other students, persistent disruptive behaviour, racial abuse, sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol related problems.
A Freedom of Information request to East Riding of Yorkshire Council shows that the town’s two secondary schools had the highest percentage of their pupils in the county excluded in the academic years 2008/9 and 2009/10.
The figures also show that across both schools 2,895 days were lost over the same period because students were taken out of school due to bad behaviour.
In 2008/09 17.09% of students (163) at Bridlington School were excluded, with 10.59% (136) at Headlands. In 2009/10 there were 11.43% (105) excluded at Bridlington School and 7.80% (97) at Headlands – both way above the East Riding average of 5.82% in 08/09 and 4.87% in 09/10.
The figures show the number of exclusions not the number of pupils excluded – and they have improved over recent years.
In 2010/11 Bridlington School excluded 7.56% of its students (68), while Headlands excluded 6.05% (74) – less than other East Riding secondary schools in Hessle and Goole.
So far in this academic year up to March 26 2012, Bridlington School has excluded 3.99% of its students (34), while Headlands has excluded 4.05% (46).
This is lower than schools in Goole, South Holderness and Market Weighton but still above the East Riding average of 2.68%.
While the figures have been high, headteachers at the two schools say that improvements have been made to bring the number of exclusions down year on year.
Sarah Pashley, headteacher of Bridlington School, said: “In 2008/09 Bridlington School was the highest in the county by a long way, so when I started in September 2009 we had to put things in place to reduce the number of exclusions.
“When I started the curriculum was not appropriate for all the students, but after changes we made students have become more engaged with their learning which helps with behaviour issues.
“We also introduced a system where students have fewer different teachers for lessons as some can find it difficult to get used to a different teacher for each lesson when they step up from primary school. We give them a gradual transition through years 7, 8 and 9, which has been really beneficial.
“We have placed a greater emphasis on literacy and invested massively in staff to provide support for students.”
Scott Ratheram, who became headteacher at Headlands School in 2010 after taking over as acting head in 2009, said: “Exclusions have fallen for a variety of reasons. However, the overarching reason is the much improved behaviour of our students, for which they need to be congratulated for.
“The fall in exclusions is actually accompanied by a rise in attendance from 89% back in 2008/09, up to over 93% this year.
“I think the two are closely linked and show that students are happier at Headlands and enjoying their learning more.”
Mike Furbank, head of achievement and inclusion at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We congratulate both Bridlington School and Headlands School for successfully reducing the number of pupils excluded from school.
“Every child deserves an education and we fully support the measures that the two schools have put in place as the reduction in the number of exclusions means more students are in the classroom to learn.”