Key points

  • Around 6,000 pupils were permanently excluded from school in 2009/10.
  • Numbers have fallen in each of the last six years, from a peak of 10,500 in 2003/04.
  • Four-fifths of permanent exclusions are boys.
  • Despite reductions in recent years, Black Caribbean pupils are still four times as likely to be permanently excluded from school as White British pupils.  By contrast, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children are all less likely to be permanently excluded from school than White British pupils.
  • The rate of permanent exclusion is much lower in Scotland than elsewhere in Great Britain: 1 per 10,000 pupils each year compared to 6-11 in most of the English regions and 5 in Wales.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

Permanent school exclusions became a focus of public attention in the late 1990s, with the Government setting new targets to keep levels under control. 1  A high proportion of children excluded from school, particularly those at secondary level, do not return to mainstream education. 2

Definitions and data sources

All the graphs concern permanent exclusions only and do not include temporary exclusions (which are much higher but have much less of an obvious relationship with social exclusion).  The data is for all maintained primary and secondary schools plus both maintained and non-maintained special schools.

The first graph shows the number of pupils permanently excluded from primary, secondary and special schools, with the data shown separately for boys and girls.  The data relates to Great Britain.  A gender breakdown is not available for Scotland, so these numbers have been estimated by assuming that the gender split is the same as in England and Wales.

The second graph shows the number of pupils permanently excluded from primary, secondary and special schools as a proportion of all pupils, with the data shown separately for boys and girls.  The data relates to England only.

The third graph shows, for the latest year, how the rate of permanent exclusions varies for children from different ethnic backgrounds.  The data relates to England only.

The fourth graph shows, for the latest year, how the rate of permanent exclusions varies by region.

The data source for all the graphs is Department for Education Statistical Bulletins, the Scottish Government’s publications entitled Exclusion from schools and the Welsh Assembly Government’s publications entitled Exclusions from schools.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  Exclusions are susceptible to administrative procedures; for example, the officially recorded numbers may well under-represent the true number of exclusions if parents are persuaded to withdraw their child rather than leave the school to exclude them.

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

None directly relevant.

The numbers

Graph 1 and 2

Year Thousands Percent
Great BritainEngland
Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
1995/96 11.0 2.2 13.2 0.14% 0.03% 0.17%
1996/9711.0 2.3 13.2 0.14% 0.03% 0.17%
1997/9810.8 2.1 12.9 0.13% 0.03% 0.16%
1998/999.3 1.9 11.2 0.11% 0.02% 0.14%
1999/007.6 1.4 9.0 0.09% 0.02% 0.11%
2000/018.2 1.7 9.9 0.10% 0.02% 0.12%
2001/02 8.5 1.9 10.4 0.10% 0.02% 0.12%
2002/038.2 1.9 10.1 0.10% 0.02% 0.12%
2003/048.5 2.1 10.6 0.10% 0.03% 0.13%
2004/058.2 2.1 10.3 0.10% 0.03% 0.13%
2005/067.9 2.1 10.0 0.10% 0.03% 0.12%
2006/077.3 1.9 9.2 0.09% 0.02% 0.12%
2007/086.7 1.8 8.5 0.09% 0.02% 0.11%
2008/095.3 1.5 6.8 0.07% 0.02% 0.09%
2009/104.7 1.3 6.0 0.06% 0.02% 0.08%

Graph 3

Year Ethnic group
Bangladeshi Black African Black Caribbean Indian Pakistani White British
Per 10,000 pupils
2002/03 6 12 37 3 8 12
2003/04 9 16 41 2 7 14
2004/05 6 14 39 4 8 13
2005/06 8 16 41 4 8 13
2006/07 8 13 38 4 9 12
2007/08 6 16 36 3 8 12
2008/09 6 11 30 3 7 9
2009/10 6 11 34 2 5 8

Graph 4

Region Per 10,000 pupils
East 6
East Midlands 10
London 10
North East 8
North West 9
Scotland 1
South East 7
South West 6
Wales 5
West Midlands 10
Yorkshire and The Humber 4
1. Second chances: exclusion from school and equality of opportunity, New Policy Institute, 1998. 
2. Note that young people in care are estimated to make up a third of all secondary school exclusions and two-thirds of all primary school exclusions: Smith, R., No lessons learnt, The Children’s Society, 1998.