To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of pupils being suspended from schools for breaching drugs and alcohol rules; what assessment they have made of whether that number has increased since 2010; and if so, what measures they plan to put in place to decrease that number.
In 2009/10 there were 370 permanent exclusions categorised with the main reason being recorded as ‘drug and alcohol related’, compared to 565 in 2016/17.
There were 8,765 fixed period exclusions in 2009/10 with the main reason of “drug and alcohol related”, compared to 9,075 in 2016/17.
Schools have a statutory power to search for and confiscate prohibited items such as alcohol, and illegal drugs. Where they find other substances, which are not controlled drugs but a teacher believes them to be harmful or detrimental to good order and discipline, these can also be confiscated.
The department has produced the attached advice for schools which makes it clear that school staff can search pupils or their possessions, without consent where there are reasonable grounds to do so. If a pupil refuses to be searched, the school may bar them from the premises.
Ultimately, we support head teachers in using exclusion where this is warranted. It is equally important that the obligations on schools are clear and well understood, to ensure that any exclusion is lawful, reasonable and fair.
The process that head teachers must follow is set out in statutory guidance, which is attached.
In March 2018, the government launched an externally led review of exclusions practice, led by Edward Timpson CBE. The review is exploring how head teachers use exclusion, and why pupils with particular characteristics are more likely to be excluded from school. It is also considering the differences in exclusion rates across primary and secondary schools in England.
The review will report in early 2019. The full terms of reference for the review can be found attached.