SCHOOLS in Southampton have recorded a massive drop in the number of pupils being kicked out for bad behaviour this year, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Official statistics just released by the Government show pupils were expelled from the city’s secondary schools nearly three times as often as the national average in 2010/11, while all schools suspended almost 50 per cent more children than overall rates in England.

But in the academic year just finished, Southampton secondary schools recorded a halving in the number of permanent exclusions while primary school heads have not resorted to the extreme disciplinary measure at all in the last 18 months.

Despite admitting the official figures are “disappointing”, city education leaders are now confident Southampton will fall below national averages when statistics for 2011/2 are released.

The latest Department for Education figures show 100 children were expelled in Hampshire and Southampton during the 2010/11 school year, with persistent trouble-making the most common reason.

More than 5,000 pupils were given a total of more than 10,400 suspensions from state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in the city and county.

The 40 expulsions handed out in Southampton means 0.14 per cent of all pupils were kicked out of school – twice the 0.07 per cent level across England as a whole, and much higher than Hampshire’s 0.04 per cent.

Most were for persistent bad behaviour, but violence towards other pupils and adults was also a major reason.

But this year, just 19 Southampton children were permanently excluded from secondary schools, compared to 34 a year earlier, while none were expelled from primaries.

Overall, there has been a 40 per cent drop in the number of school days lost to exclusion. Education leaders in the city said that was the result of “tireless”

partnership work between head teachers, backed by the city council.

City schools chief Cllr Sarah Bogle said: “Significant efforts are being made by all the schools working with the local authority to reduce the numbers of children excluded from school.

“One aspect of this is the local authority pupil referral unit provision, which is used by many schools to work with pupils with challenging behaviour and help them re-engage with mainstream education.”

In 2010/11, Hampshire head teachers were less likely to permanently exclude pupils than countrywide, but taking them out of school temporarily happens more often than nationally.

A county council spokesman said expulsion is a “last resort” only used when a pupil’s behaviour is impacting on others.

Below-average levels of permanent exclusions was attributed to work done by schools and the council to support children at risk of being kicked out to help improve in the classroom.