The number of children permanently excluded from schools in England has increased by more than 6%.

Government figures show there were 9,880 expulsions from primary, secondary and special needs schools in 2003-04, up from 9,290 in 2002-03. The proportion of pupils expelled has also risen for the first time in three years, from 0.12% to 0.13%. The number of suspensions from schools in 2003-4 was 344,510.

This is the first time the DfES has provided a breakdown of the reasons for expulsions. The largest increase in expulsions was among secondary pupils, accounting for 8,320 – up from 7,690 in 2002-03. The overall figure is the highest since 1998-99 but 2,420 fewer than in 1997-98. Some 81% of expulsions in the latest figures are of boys, with 14 year olds the largest single age group affected. Persistent disruptive behaviour was the biggest cause, followed by physically assaulting a pupil. After disruptive behaviour (3,040) and assaults on pupils (1,720), assaulting an adult accounted for the most permanent exclusions – 1,190. Then came verbal abuse or threatening behaviour towards an adult, on 1,130.

Parental appeals against exclusions increased from 1,070 to 1,130. The proportion which succeeded was up slightly from 21.1% to 21.2%. However the number of these which resulted in children returning to the same school fell from 150 to 130, or 71.3% to 57%. The DfES has said this was because of tougher guidelines for appeal panels.