CONCERNS have been raised after new figures showed suspensions in Bradford schools have more than doubled.

Department for Education figures show there was a total of 7,900 temporary suspensions in the area during the 2022-23 spring term - a 64 per cent increase compared to the year before.

On average, those suspended missed 3.6 days from school.

Pupils were also suspended for bullying 20 times.

Tom Bright, Bradford branch secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), feels the statistics reflect what he is seeing at schools.

"We are quite worried about it," he told the Telegraph & Argus.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Department for Education figures show there was a total of 7,900 temporary suspensionsDepartment for Education figures show there was a total of 7,900 temporary suspensions (Image: PA)"Every day a child is out of school they are not learning.

"It does not surprise me and it is definitely something we are concerned about because you have to deal with the incident, while the child is absent, and then when they get back in.

"Every suspension is increasing workload and the stress on teachers and support staff in schools."

He added: "We are seeing a lot more defiance and individuality from children. You want to encourage creativity but you don't want it to detract from their learning. 

"We are trying to encourage children to be in school and learning. If they are having difficulty adjusting to that then suspension is a tool of last resort.

"There are lots of things in schools that promote positive behaviour but unfortunately it does not always work.

"The biggest problem is the lack of funding means they do not have staff with the time or opportunity to deal with lower level incidents."

The figures also show there were 110 suspensions at Bradford schools for racial abuse during the 2022-23 spring term – up from 98 across the same period the year before.

This follows the national trend, with 3,779 suspensions for racial abuse recorded across English schools – a 21 per cent rise from spring 2021-22.

Across the country, 20 pupils had to look for a new school after being permanently excluded for racial abuse – none of them in Bradford.

Bradford Council says its schools are "dedicated to combating racism".

Becca Rosenthal, hate crime lead at Victim Support, said schools are working harder to protect young people impacted by racial hate.

Mr Bright said: "It is right that people should be called out for racism but you would hope that there were better solutions for both the person making that comment and the victims. It is a sad statistic."

He suggested the current situation in Gaza may have played a part in the increase.

"There is a lot of tension that could be raised by a lack of sensitivity and awareness by children," he added. 

"That is why they go to school to learn how to be more tolerant and be good citizens."

Councillor Imran Khan - Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for education, employment and skills - said: “There is absolutely no place for racism in society and we stand firmly behind our schools in taking the appropriate action to tackle it. 

“Exclusions are only ever used as a last resort but can be used by a school to challenge unacceptable behaviour and keep children safe in school.

“Schools across our district are dedicated to combating racism, promoting racial equality and empowering students to speak up and report incidents.

“We work closely with the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance, Schools of Sanctuary and the Linking Network to provide advice and support to schools.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Racism, discrimination and violent behaviour have no place in our schools, nor in society.

“The Government is very clear it backs head teachers to use exclusions where required, so they can provide calm, safe, and supportive environments for children to learn in.

“We are providing targeted support to schools to help improve behaviour, and attendance and reduce the risk of exclusions with an investment of £10 million in our Behaviour Hubs programme, and our mental health teams who will reach at least 50 per cent of pupils by 2025.”