MORE than 3,000 students in Reading were excluded between 2015/16 - 2017/18 for violence and/or drug and alcohol issues.

A total of 846 children were excluded across primary and secondary schools in the 2015/16 period; 1,163 in the 2016/17 period and 1,087 in the 2017/18 period.

The latest figures, from 2017/18, show that 186 pupils were excluded for physical assaults against a pupil; 161 for physical assaults against an adult and 29 for drug and alcohol use.

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Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, director of education for Brighter Futures for Children, said: "We're pleased to see the decline in exclusions from Reading schools in 2017/18, but we're delighted in our local figure for 2018/19, which continues the reduction in exclusions.

"While our local figure has not yet been statistically validated by the DfE, there is very little change each year in the local and published figure, so we are confident that the reduction is accurate.

"We'd like to thank all schools, teachers and pupils for their hard work in reducing the number of exclusions and we will continue to explore new and innovative ways to work with schools - and with parents and pupils - to reduce this number further."

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of NASWUT teachers’ union, has blamed the government for reducing and removing specialist support for pupils with challenging behaviour.

She claimed the government's actions have "driven qualified and specialist teachers out of the profession," and increased "disaffection among pupils."

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The data shows 35 per cent of all exclusions in Reading between 2017/18 were actioned because of violence against a pupil or an adult, or for alcohol and drug abuse

Ms Keates claimed there are teachers reporting daily abuse from their students.

A senior youth worker, Simon Kay, added that exclusions are often used as a “quick-fix solution” and the range of options to support children in school are being ignored.

Mr Kay said excluded children often live in chaotic homes and school can be the only place they feel safe.

However, the Department for Education (DfE), said the government backs headteachers in using their powers to issue fixed-period exclusions and to permanently exclude as a last resort.

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."