The number of pupils being suspended from school is ‘eye opening’, the Education Minister has admitted.

Daphne Caine told the House of Keys that a new policy was being developed to tackle the issue.

Figures released in a written response to a Tynwald question earlier this year revealed that in 2020-21 the total number of pupils suspended was 273 but this had risen to 436 in 2021-22 and to 567 in 2022-23.

Douglas North MHK David Ashford quizzed the Minister in the Keys about the figures, which he described as ‘horrific’.

Mrs Caine said that formal suspension of a pupil is only taken as a ‘final step’ of managing challenging behaviour.

But Mr Ashford said: ‘Looking at the figures that her department has previously provided, in 2021-23 there were 436 last steps and in 2022-23 there were 567 last steps. How can the Minister say that suspension is a final step?’

The Minister replied: ‘The department recognises the need for pupils attending school to be able to behave in a manner appropriate for the learning environment. As such, 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, hopefully from September this year.’

Mr Ashford said he was getting more and more parents contacting him at their ‘wit’s end’. ‘They don’t feel suspension is the last step but that it seems to be the go-to option,’ he said.

‘They are continually getting calls to say even after reintegration that their son or daughter is again being sent home.’

He questioned whether the reintegration after suspension process was working, given the number of repeat offenders.

Mrs Caine replied: ‘We need appropriate behaviour to be addressed to enable all our students to be able to access education. It’s a concern.

‘Clearly all options need to be considered as part of any policy development in this area.’