The number of pupils being excluded from schools in Wiltshire has risen by more than 900 in the last three years.

In the 2017/18 academic year 3,264 pupils were excluded from primary, secondary and special schools. This was up from 2,344 in 2015/16.

The number of permanent exclusions increased from 6 to 22 over the same time frame.

The 2017/18 figures include more than 900 exclusions for physical assaults of a pupil or adult, while 155 were drug or alcohol related.

In Gloucestershire there was an increase of more than 200 total exclusions, from 3,928 in 2016/17 to 4,146 in 2017/18, although permanent exclusions actually fell during that time.

Tim Browne, director of education at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The percentage of pupils permanently and temporarily excluded from school remained stable between September 2015 and August 2018 when taking into account an overall increase of pupils in the county during this time.

"We recognise that this is a challenging issue for headteachers and we have been working closely with schools to put support in place earlier for those children who are at risk of being excluded.”

Across England more than 303,000 children in state-maintained primary and secondary schools in England were handed permanent or fixed-period exclusions for assaulting a pupil or adult, or for drug and alcohol issues, between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

Figures from the Department for Education (DfE), and analysed by Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit, show that in this period, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all exclusions were because of violence, alcohol and drug problems.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of teachers’ union NASWUT, said the Government was to blame for stripping specialist support for pupils with challenging behaviour.

She said: “It is common for people to assume behaviour problems are confined to secondary schools, but in fact, that has never been the case.

“Primary school teachers also face equally challenging and serious pupil indiscipline, but they are often discouraged from raising the issues, and led to believe it will reflect negatively on them because of the age of pupils.

“For too long, too many teachers have suffered in silence.”

Ms Keates added that being verbally and physically abused, in some cases daily, is impacting teacher’s mental health.

She said: “No teacher should have to go to work with the expectation they will be abused. All workers are entitled to a safe working environment, free from violence and disruption.

“The Government must take responsibility for the impact of policies which have reduced, or removed, internal and external specialist support for pupils for whom behaviour issues are a barrier to learning.”

A spokesman for the DfE said: “The Government supports headteachers in using exclusion as a sanction where warranted. That means backing heads to use their powers to issue fixed-period exclusions in response to poor behaviour and to permanently exclude as a last resort.

“While fixed-period exclusion rates have risen, permanent exclusion rates have remained stable, and they are both lower than they were a decade ago.

“Permanent exclusion remains a rare event.”