The number of primary pupils excluded from school for assaulting an adult has risen by 25 per cent in a year, official figures released today show.
The government statistics reveal that 11,660 primary pupils in 2013-14 were either permanently or temporarily sent home from school for attacking an adult, up from 9,290 the year before.
The figures also show there has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of permanent exclusions among secondary students for physically assaulting staff, rising from 260 in 2012-13 to 290 last year.
Overall, the total number of permanent exclusions across primary, secondary and special schools also increased slightly compared with 2012-13, despite a general decline since 2004-05.
Exclusions among primary pupils for racist abuse also increased by 15.6 per cent year on year, but all of them were temporary.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said the statistics were proof that the new powers handed to headteachers by ministers had given them the “confidence” to exclude students.
"The government is determined to create a school system where every child feels safe and is able to work and study hard without disruption,” Mr Gibb said. "We have given headteachers more powers to tackle poor behaviour and have ensured they have the confidence to exclude pupils when this is necessary."
"Today's figures show a slight increase in the number of fixed period and permanent exclusions, although overall they are lower than in 2010,” he added. "The new freedoms and greater clarity over exclusions given to headteachers is having a positive impact on behaviour"
Last month, the Department for Education appointed teacher and TES columnist Tom Bennett as its behaviour tsar to lead a group to ensure teachers are equipped to deal with disruptive students.
The NASUWT teaching union said the figures were "extremely worrying" and criticised the government for congratualting itself on giving greater powers to headteachers to exclude.
"The increase in suspensions shows that, quite rightly, schools are not accepting violence against staff. However, there needs to be deeper analysis of why levels of violence are increasing," Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary said.
“It is simply not good enough for ministers to pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on the new freedoms given to schools around exclusion. There is no good news story here."
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteschers' union, added that the fact exclusion rates in primaries were at their highest since 2007-08 "shows the day-to-day challenges school leaders face".