MORE than 2,000 school pupils were suspended in Barnsley during one term in 2023 - a rise of 26 per cent in a year.

Statistics from the Department for Education (DfE) show 1,798 youngsters were given temporary suspensions from entering their schools in the spring term of 2021/22.

However, this figure rose to 2,272 when compared to the same term just a year later, according to the figures which were released earlier this month.

A total of six suspensions were given for racial abuse alone during last year’s term, while a total of 25 were suspended for either physical abuse or verbal abuse, with one child being kicked out for causing damage and two for theft.

However, the total amount of suspensions - encompassing all reasons for doing so - stood at 2,272, much higher than the previous year.

Across the country, suspensions hit record levels in the spring term.

A spokesperson from the Centre for Social Justice said: “These latest government figures reveal an unfolding crisis in the number of suspensions from schools, with suspensions increasing to new record levels.

“Our recent ‘Suspending Reality’ report highlighted how the impact of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the steady increase in the level of SEND over the last decade are all contributing to a tidal wave of challenges hitting children, families and schools.

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“This is being played out across our education system, with record levels of suspensions and record levels of children severely absent from school.

“Our research uncovered that pupils who experience suspension or exclusion are disproportionately from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Disadvantaged pupils often face additional barriers to their education, such as a lack of access to food, clothing and study resources.”

The concerns are reflected in the statistics - revealed earlier this month - with children who qualify for free school meals four times more likely to be suspended than their more affluent peers.

A total of 32 youngsters were permanently excluded in Barnsley in the last spring team, DfE statistics show.

The spokesperson added: “Exclusion can have an enduring adverse impact on a child’s life.

“Previous research has shown that just seven per cent of children who were permanently excluded and 18 per cent of children who received multiple suspensions went on to achieve good passes in GCSEs in English and maths.

“Excluded pupils are also far more likely to be economically inactive aged 25 and have far higher rates of involvement with the criminal justice system.

“Ministers must urgently get a grip of this unfolding crisis by introducing a national inclusion framework for schools, so schools are better equipped to support pupils to overcome any additional vulnerabilities that may prevent them from engaging in their education.”

Becca Rosenthal, hate crime lead at Victim Support, said schools are working harder to protect young people impacted by racial hate in particular.

“This increase in suspensions and exclusions could be an indicator that schools are clamping down on this behaviour, rather than reflecting an actual rise in racist abuse.

“Racist abuse has a devastating impact on young people, affecting their mental health and overall wellbeing.

“It can cause the breakdown of friendships and disrupt children’s learning, making victims unwilling to come to school.

“It’s vital that schools and youth services have the tools to tackle racist abuse and staff are confident in having challenging conversations.”

Across the country, 20 pupils had to look for a new school after being permanently excluded for racial abuse - but none of them were in Barnsley, according to the DfE.

On average, those suspended missed 4.6 days from school.

A Department for Education spokesperson added: “Racism, discrimination and violent behaviour have no place in our schools, nor in society.

“The government is very clear it backs headteachers to use exclusions where required, so they can provide calm, safe, and supportive environments for children to learn in.

“We are providing targeted support to schools to help improve behaviour, attendance and reduce the risk of exclusions.”

The Chronicle contacted Barnsley Council for a comment.