SHOCK STATISTICS have revealed that a child aged between nine and ten was expelled from a Nottingham school for carrying a weapon last year.
The year five pupil was among four expulsions made for the same reason between 2015 and 2016 in Nottingham schools, a figure which has decreased from eight in 2014/15 and 13 in 2013/14.
The information, obtained through a Freedom of Information request to Nottingham City Council, shows there were 70 fixed-period exclusions, a term more commonly referred to as suspensions, and 28 permanent exclusions since 2011/12.
A year two pupil (aged six to seven) was the youngest child to be suspended for bringing a weapon to school in the last five years, but the number of suspensions has fallen from 26 in 2012/13 to four in 2015/16.
Susi Artis, an assistant secretary for the Nottingham City branch of the National Union of Teachers, said she was surprised by the fall and that it was worrying that younger and younger children are being suspended and expelled for carrying weapons.
The retired primary school teacher added: “I did work in a school a couple of years ago when a kid brought a knife in and threatened a teacher and he was permanently excluded.
“The bottom line is that Nottingham, as a city, is one of the most deprived in the country and there’s certainly more child poverty. That kind of enormous problem is not going to be solved overnight. It’s a huge problem and there isn’t a quick fix.”
There appears to have been a significant drop since the Department for Education (DfE) reformed rules about searching and confiscating prohibited items from pupils in February 2014, these include knives and weapons.
A spokesperson said: “Teachers can search pupils without consent, confiscate prohibited items and use reasonable force to remove disruptive pupils from the classroom when necessary.
“We have also given heads the final say on exclusions by removing the right of appeals panels to put pupils back in the classroom against the best interests of the school.”
Ms Artis said it used to be the case that appeals could be made to the governing bodies and that the searching element is not commonly used.
“That would cause a lot of difficulty, unless the head teacher has really good reason to think that a child had come into school with a weapon,” she added.
James Blount, a spokesman for the council, said: “The FOI shows that it is individual schools who make the call on what constitutes a ‘weapon’, they decide on the level of punishment and the council is only informed once they have made their decision.”