BURY North MP James Frith has challenged Theresa May to take action over rising school exclusion figures.

Figures released by the Department for Education earlier this year showed that, between 2015/16 and 2016/17, schools handed out 15 per cent more exclusions, with pupils on free school meals four times more likely to receive them than other pupils.

Meanwhile, children with special educational needs accounted for almost 80 per cent of all expulsions.

During that time period, schools in Bury handed out 83 permanent exclusions, equating to 0.28 per cent of pupils - the highest rate in England and almost three times the national average.

Bury schools also handed out 1,728 temporary exclusions last year at a rate of one every 5.88 per cent of pupils. The national average is 4.76 per cent.

And at Prime Minister's Questions last Wednesday, Mr Frith challenged the Mrs May to take action to reduce the number of exclusions.

He also flagged the up increase in the use of the ‘other’ category by schools as the reason for exclusion and the lack of any data being kept by government detailing what this means.

In response, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the government was concerned about the number of exclusions, and pointed to a review being undertaken into the matter by former MP Edward Timpson.

Mr Frith said: “We need an inclusive education system and a plan for all our children. The current state of exclusions, especially of children with SEND, is completely unacceptable.

“In the coming weeks I’ll be meeting with Edward Timpson, the government’s lead on the review into exclusions, Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman and Regional Schools Commissioner Vicky Beer to press this issue.

“We must bring the rate of exclusions down, improve transparency in the system and do more to support children with additional needs and disabilities in mainstream education where appropriate instead of farming them out to alternative provision.”