THERE have been a growing number of exclusions in Herefordshire for pupils who have physically assaulted an adult, figures show.

Data from the Department of Education show there were 171 exclusions, one permanent, in 2017-18 for physical assault against an adult, an increase of almost 70 per cent on the previous 12 months.

There were also 176 exclusions for physical assault against a pupil and 33 for verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against a pupil.

Two of the 17 permanent exclusions in Herefordshire in the period had been for physically assaulting a child, and Herefordshire Council said they take this behaviour very seriously.

A spokesperson said: "In 2017- 2018 the fixed period exclusion rate for Herefordshire was below the national average for England.

"We take the safety of our staff and pupils extremely seriously.

"Any acts of violence or aggression towards another pupil or a member of staff would be subject to a thorough investigation in line with the school's behaviour and safeguarding policies and the appropriate action will be taken to minimise the risk to others."

The other 15 permanent exclusions were for being either verbally abusive towards pupils or adults, because of drugs or alcohol, for persistent disruptive behaviour or for another unspecified reason.

In total, there were 982 exclusions from state-funded primary, secondary and special schools last year, up from 897 the previous year.

The most common reason for being expelled was persistent disruptive behaviour, with 180 fixed-term exclusions and a further seven removed permanently.

In addition, there were nine fixed-term suspensions for racist abuse, 10 for sexual misconduct and 12 were drug and alcohol related.

On average, expelled pupils were excluded twice, with an average of four-and-a-half days lost.