Wales

Wrexham schools exclusion rise blamed on mental health

Child in exam Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wrexham council has been urged to protect funding for pupil counselling

An increase in mental health issues has been cited as a reason behind a rise in pupil exclusion from Wrexham schools.

The total number of days children were banned from class more than doubled in 2017-18 from the previous year.

Wrexham council's head of education, Ian Roberts, urged politicians to safeguard funding for pupil counselling.

He said: "Waiting lists are too high so we're struggling with the capacity we have, let alone if we reduce capacity."

More than 900 exclusion orders were made in Wrexham schools in the last academic year.

That saw a total of 3,162 school days lost, up markedly from 1,340 in 2015-16.

Mr Roberts told the council's lifelong learning committee that budget cuts were having a negative impact on the number of support staff.

He said: "The trends in terms of [young people's] mental, emotional and social health are concerning.

"When we're stretched for budgets, we need to convince the decision-makers that we really need to maintain our counselling services at the rate they are.

"There is an inevitability that with larger class sizes, less budget and less intervention work from learning support assistants, the support to access the curriculum will be reduced."

An education department report shown to the committee showed the main causes for exclusions were threats towards adults and persistent disruptive behaviour.

Phil Wynn, lead member for education, said the figures should be viewed in the context of there being about 18,000 pupils across Wrexham, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He added: "There is a cohort of pupils we need to look at more closely."

The committee voted to support measures being taken to reduce the number of exclusions, such as investing in behaviour centres and providing training to school governors on the importance of behaviour policies.

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