“Teachers will be allowed to use force on unruly pupils as ministers lift ‘no touching’ ban after classroom violence DOUBLES in a year”
“Almost 1,000 pupils – some as young as five – are excluded for abuse or assault every school day, compared to 452 last year.”
Daily Mail, 11 July 2011
As the government publishes guidance today outlining new powers for teachers to legally control and contain classroom disruption and violence, some eye-catching statistics have reappeared on the number of children excluded from schools in England every year for abuse and assault.
The Daily Mail reported today the headline that “classroom violence doubles in a year” based on their figures that pupil exclusion rates have increased from 452 children per day in the year 2008/09 to almost 1,000 children per day in the next academic year (i.e. 2009/10.)
Full Fact has previously investigated the figure of 1,000 exclusions per day reported by the Daily Mail, a statistic which was shown to be potentially skewed by the factor of repeat offending. We therefore decided to look into these newly reported figures.
The Mail article which was investigated by Full Fact in November 2010 stated that 1,000 pupils were being sent home every day for verbal or physical abuse on pupils or teachers. It also stated that this figure was for the academic year 2008/09, a statement which they then apparently contradict in today’s article which cites the 452 figure for the same academic year.
Furthermore, even if we accept this apparent contradiction as a typographical error in terms of academic years, and assume that the Mail is referring to the consecutive 2007/08 and 2008/09 years, there are still problems with the figures.
The Department for Education releases statistics every July which document numbers of permanent and fixed-term exclusions from schools on an academic yearly basis.
If we look at the statistics for the year 2008/09, including only those exclusions which were handed out for physical and verbal abuse on teachers and pupils, a figure of the equivalent of 958 children per day is produced. These calculations are based on 190 school days per year. This correlates with the Mail’s original claims of almost 1,000 per day for the year 2008/09.
If you compare these figures with like-for-like equivalents in the previous academic year of 2007/08 the figure which is produced by the same calculation is 1,003 children per day excluded, a number which is quite clearly not half of 1,000.
We have contacted the Daily Mail for clarification and they have not yet got back to us. We can therefore only speculate as to where the 452 figure comes from. One possibility is a figure which refers to the number of children given non-permanent exclusions for physical abuse which works out at 453 children per day. However this figure is taken from 2008/9 – the most recent year of data available, and the same year fromwhich the 1,000 per day statistic is drawn.
This figure also cannot be compared like-for-like with the 1,000 per day statistic as it excludes verbal abuse and permanent exclusions.
Full Fact contacted the Department for Education, and a spokesman confirmed that rather than doubling, the number of exclusions for physical or verbal abuse had been broadly static in the most recent two years for which data is available.
The DfE has yet to release the figures for the most recent academic year- 2009/10- which are due out this month. Therefore if we refer back to the original quote from today’s Mail article, they are suggesting that the figure of 452 in 2008/09 has doubled to 1,000 in the year 2009/10 based on figures which have not yet been released.
Therefore, whether or not the Mail has confused the academic years to which it is referring to in today’s article, the claims in their headline and the figures which they cite do not seem to add up.