As pupils returned to schools in Ceredigion last week, a new report has shown a “significant rise” in children being excluded from secondary school in the three months to March 2023 - with reasons including racial and physical abuse, possession of an offensive weapon, and filming others without consent - while bullying is also on the rise.

The figure of 86 exclusions for the fourth quarter of 2022/23 between January and March 2023 - the latest set of figures available - was revealed in a report put before Ceredigion County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee on Monday, 11 September.

The report shows that exclusions have risen by almost half from the previous quarter, with those 86 pupils handed a combined nine months in exclusion days.

The Combined Local Operational Group Safeguarding Report outlines: “A total of 86 pupils were excluded from Ceredigion Secondary Schools during quarter 4, for a total of 275.5 days.

“These figures being significantly higher than quarter 3, whereby 59 pupils were excluded for a total of 173.5 days.”

“The reasons noted for exclusions have been recorded as: Persistent Disruptive Behaviour; Bullying; Damage; Substance and Alcohol Related; Physical Assaults against Pupils and Adults; Racist Abuse; Verbal Abuse; Possession of an Offensive Weapon in the Community; Filming Others without Consent and Other.”

The report also outlines a rise in bullying in Ceredigion schools.

The report says that bullying data is collected by all schools during Governing Body meetings on a termly basis, and latest figures - for the Autumn Term 2022 - shows that 67 bullying incidents were recorded across county schools.

That figure is up from 26 in the Spring Term and 27 in the Summer Term.

The report says: “The figures show a significant increase in bullying incidences being recorded in the Autumn term, in comparison with the

earlier Summer term.”

Among the 67 bullying incidents in schools, 12 were described as racial - a six fold increase compared with the Spring Term and more than double the figure recorded for the Summer Term.

Other bullying incidents were recorded as homophobic (three), appearance (seven), ability (two), gender (three) and disability (three).

Nine incidents cited online safety, while 28 were not specified or other.

Between 2013 and 2019, earlier studies have shown that Ceredigion has the lowest pupil exclusion rate of any local authority in Wales.

The report does not say whether any of 86 exclusions were permanent or for how long they were.

Welsh Government data from last year shows that persistent disruptive behaviour’ was the most common reason for fixed-term exclusions of five days or less while physical assault against a pupil was the most common reason for permanent and fixed term exclusions of five days or more.