The latest National Statistics report, Permanent exclusions and suspensions in England, shows a 13% increase in school suspensions in the second year of the pandemic, Academic Year 2020/21, with breach of pandemic measures being cited in nearly 13,000 suspensions. However, permanent exclusions are reported to have dropped by 24%, equivalent to five in every 10,000 pupils.
It is important to note that the last two school years have both been impacted by the pandemic.
This year's data includes the period in Spring term 2020/21, where restrictions meant that only key worker and vulnerable children were attending school in person, with others being educated remotely. Suspensions and permanent exclusions were possible throughout the full academic year but comparisons to previous years should be treated with caution.
In the last academic year, schools were able to record several new reasons for suspension or exclusion, one of which was "wilful and repeated transgression of national Covid measures" (Schools Week, 2022). Schools were also able to record up to three reasons for each suspension or exclusion. The most common reason cited in 39% of all permanent exclusions ( 1,500 times) and 42% of suspensions (148,400 times) was persistent distruptive behaviour, followed by physical assault against a pupil.
The National Statistics data shows that generally, the rate of permanent exclusion and suspension remain to increase with age, being the highest at age 14. Moreover, following previous years' trends, boys continue to have more than three times the number of permanent exclusions and twice the number of suspensions as girls.