Commenting on Department for Education data on permanent exclusions and suspensions in England, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"School and college staff throughout the country can see the enormous effect of the pandemic on the wellbeing and mental health of many children and young people. To forestall a further rise in suspensions and permanent exclusions, Government must focus on these factors as well as the very obvious shortcomings in their education recovery plan. Not only does their plan lack sufficient funding, but also a rounded sense of what young people most urgently require.
"With class sizes amongst the highest in Europe it is becoming impossible for individual teachers to manage behaviour as well as provide individualised support for all pupils. The loss of support staff in schools inevitably compounds the difficulties, and sadly the increased suspensions and permanent exclusions flow from these cutbacks.
"Our young people have one chance in education, and it falls to Government to ensure that the best possible environment is provided to them. This means a root and branch review of curriculum, assessment, exams and accountability. It calls for a significantly better funding settlement, by which leaders can reduce class sizes, increase support for SEND students, improve buildings, and provide greater one-to-one attention. This is what young people deserve."