THE number of students excluded from primary and secondary schools in Cheshire East soared by more than 1,200 in just one year.

This is according to new figures released by the Department for Education and analysed by Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit.

During the school year of 2016/17, 2,129 pupils were either temporarily or permanently excluded from schools in the borough.

But in the following school year of 2017/18, this figure rose by 1,225 to total 3,354.

This is despite an overall fall in the number of exclusions due to physical assault against other pupils, adults and drug and alcohol-related incidents.

In 2016/17, this figure was 508, but this total fell to 464 the following year.

At a national level, more than a quarter of all exclusions in England between 2015 and 2018 were as a result of violence against a pupil, an adult, or because of alcohol and drug issues.

Drug and alcohol issues accounted for eight per cent of permanent exclusions both in 2017/18 and 2015/16.

However, this fell slightly to seven per cent in 2016/17.

The percentage of children excluded for assaulting an adult was at 11 per cent in 2015/16 and fell to 10 per cent the following school year.

This rose back to 11 per cent in 2017/18.

In response to the release of the figures, a spokesman for the Department for Education 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.

“Where pupils are excluded, the quality of education they receive should be no different than mainstream settings, and we are taking a range of actions to make sure that is the case.

“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.”