VIOLENT behaviour towards fellow pupils or adults and issues with drugs and alcohol have resulted in nearly 2,000 school exclusions across Dudley borough schools over the last three years, a data investigation has revealed.

More than 303,000 children in state-maintained primary and secondary schools in England were handed permanent or fixed-period exclusions for assaulting a pupil or adult, or for drug and alcohol issues, between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

In Dudley - 28 per cent of exclusions during that period were the result of violence towards an adult or fellow pupil or drink/drug problems.

Figures from the Department for Education (DfE), analysed by Newsquest's Data Investigations Unit, revealed 1,372 cases in Dudley schools, out of a total of 7,198, involved violence against a pupil, 477 were for violent behaviour towards an adult and 153 were drug and alcohol related.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of teachers’ union NASWUT, has blamed the Government for stripping specialist support for pupils with challenging behaviour.

Ms Keates said poor discipline of pupils was one of the main reasons why teachers considered leaving the profession.

She said: “No teacher should have to go to work with the expectation that they will be abused. All workers are entitled to a safe working environment, free from violence and disruption.

“The Government must take responsibility for the impact of policies which have reduced or removed internal and external specialist support for pupils for whom behaviour issues are a barrier to learning.”

Ms Keates believes removing support from youth workers has had an impact on the handling of children’s behaviour.

She added: “These impacts have driven qualified and specialist teachers out of the profession, narrowed the curriculum offer, increased disaffection among pupils and limited their life chances.”

Where pupils are excluded, the DfE said the “quality of education they receive should be no different than mainstream settings”.

A spokesman for the DfE added: “The Government supports head teachers in using exclusion as a sanction where warranted. That means backing heads to use their powers to issue fixed period exclusions in response to poor behaviour and to permanently exclude as a last resort.

“While fixed period exclusion rates have risen, permanent exclusion rates have remained stable, and they are both lower than they were a decade ago. Permanent exclusion remains a rare event.”

Councillor Ruth Buttery, Dudley's cabinet member for children and young people, said the authority launched a consultation with schools and stakeholders last year with a view to developing a new strategy to reduce the level of exclusions.

She added: “The main focus of this new strategy will be to identify pupils who are at risk of exclusion earlier, so the right support can be provide to avoid them being removed from school in the first place.

“We also plan to carry out research to identify future priorities to help our schools, as well as providing an effective range of alternative provision.”