A total of 2,432 school days have been missed by high school students in the island because of suspensions so far during the current school year.

At Ballakermeen High School, there has been 1,123 missed days with 200 students receiving suspensions, while Queen Elizabeth II High School saw a significantly fewer number of 90 missed days from 39 pupils.

St Ninian’s High School currently amounts to 763 missed days, while Castle Rushen and Ramsey Grammar equal 203 and 253 days respectively.

The total number of days is a decrease from 2022/23 (2,691), but this year’s figures could increase from now until July when the current school year ends.

According to the Department of Education, Sports and Culture suspension of pupils policy and procedure, a pupil is only formally suspended as a ‘final step in managing challenging behaviour’.

The policy states that a student should only be formally suspended in response to the most serious violation of a school’s behaviour policy, or if allowing the pupil to remain in school risks serious harm to the education or welfare of the pupil or other pupils in the school.

An informal suspension is where a student is sent home for the rest of the day, for instance, if they need a ‘cool-off period’.

Education Minister Daphne Caine, who provided the figures in response to a written question, spoke about the number of suspensions in the island’s schools during a House of Keys sitting at the end of April.

Talking about the DESC’s findings, Mrs Caine said: ‘Initial analysis has shown trends across schools of increasing numbers of suspensions, particularly students who are being suspended more than three times in an academic year.

‘All pupils are individuals and each suspension is treated as an individual case. Following every suspension, the cause is addressed and where appropriate, an individual risk assessment is created.

‘It is important to note that pupils are taken through a process of reintegration when returning to school following a suspension.’

Three of the five high schools in the island have seen significant increases to the number of days students have missed through suspensions throughout the last three years (from 2021/22 to 2023/24).

For example, Castle Rushen saw 72 days missed in 2021/22, which was followed by 213 days in 2022/23 and 203 days so far in 2023/24.

Mrs Caine added: ‘I agree that the figures are eye-opening. The department recognises the need for pupils attending school to be able to behave in a manner appropriate for the learning environment, and the department is currently developing new policy options to support and allow this to happen.

‘It's my department's intention that a new policy will be implemented from September this year.’