UNRULY pupils have been suspended from school for reasons including racist abuse, sexual misconduct and violence.
On average, six primary and secondary school pupils are suspended from Sunderland every day, figures obtained by the Echo reveal.
Between September 2009 and July 2011, 3,363 orders to temporarily kick badly-behaved pupils out were handed out – 403 in primaries and 2,960 in secondaries.
Two primary school pupils were suspended for racist abuse and another two for sexual misconduct.
A total of 835 suspensions were dealt to secondary school youngsters who verbally abused or used threatening behaviour towards an adult.
Sixty-nine primary school suspensions were dished out for the same reason.
“This is a real problem,” said Marilyn Harrop, president of the National Union of Teachers.
“Over the last 25 years there has been a shift from teachers being in a position of respect, to children knowing their rights but not having any sense of obligation.”
The figures showed that a further 658 suspensions were given for persistent disruptive behaviour in Wearside secondary schools, and 118 in primary schools.
Pupils attacking peers in secondary school led to 482 suspensions and in primaries it was 100.
Mrs Harrop, who taught in Wearside primary schools for 36 years before taking voluntary redundancy in 2009 to work as a supply teacher, said mothers and fathers have a bigger role to play in disciplining their children.
“Parents have to take more responsibility for what their children say and do.
“If you’re suspending children from school, you’re potentially removing them from somewhere where they’re able to get help – but on the other hand you have to think of the other children in the class.”
Mrs Harrop also said parents having to tighten the purse strings, and struggling to survive in the tough economic climate can have an effect on children’s behaviour.
“Children are coming to school hungry, or without the basic things you think of when it comes to children’s care, and that makes it difficult for them to concentrate and control their behaviour.
“The Government cuts are also having an effect as many frontline services are being cut.
“That means outside agencies that may be called in to help are lessened.”
Margaret Ferrie, Sunderland Council’s principal support and intervention officer, said: “Each school and its governing body has responsibility for updating its own behaviour policy, making reference to expectations of behaviour and how both good behaviour is rewarded and how unacceptable behaviour is dealt with appropriately and consistently.
“Where an individual’s behaviour is deemed as a concern, schools/academies use their own resources and may initiate a Common Assessment Framework referral if further support from outside services is required.
“Sunderland City Council works in partnership with schools/academies to tackle problematic behaviour from pupils and provides support with a cohesive behaviour programme.
“All children and young people who access this service are dealt with on an individual basis, and are given a personalised programme to meet their needs and address their behaviour.
“The safeguarding of children and young people always remains a priority when considering next steps.”