HC Deb 17 February 1997 vol 290 cc614-5
9. Mr. Rowlands

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many children were excluded from schools in (a) 1990, (b) 1995 and (c) 1996; and if he will make a statement. [14449]

Mr. Jonathan Evans

Returns provided by local education authorities in Wales show that the number of permanent exclusions from maintained schools for the academic years 1994–95 and 1995–96 were 476 and 543 respectively. Figures for 1990 are not available.

Mr. Rowlands

Are not those figures, by any standards, extremely worrying? Do they not require some new initiatives to be taken, such as cities in schools? Will those figures be helped in any way by rising class sizes? Many local authorities now face the prospect of making teachers redundant and of increasing class sizes. Those figures will become worse, not better, unless we deal with these fundamental problems.

Mr. Evans

First, the hon. Gentleman will know of the support that the Welsh Office has consistently given to the cities in schools initiative. Secondly, in relation to exclusions, he will be aware that there are currently measures before the House to increase the period for which a fixed-term exclusion can operate. We have to put these matters in perspective. Although he is right to identify the increase, it cannot be said to represent a trend—we are dealing with about one in 1,000 pupils. However, I recognise the importance of ensuring that there is a range of ways of dealing with school discipline, and such matters are very much addressed by measures that are currently before the House.