TEACHERS are being left to 'suffer in silence' as children physically lash out at them at school.

Statistics show that the number of Oxfordshire pupils excluded due to physical attacks against an adult has increased by 75 per cent in just three years.

The Department for Education recorded 449 such exclusions in 2017/18, the most recent year on file, compared to 258 in 2015/16.

Exclusions due to physical assault against a pupil were at 739 in 2017/18, up from 669 the previous year and 578 in 2015/16.

New analysis of the data, published by Newsquest's Data Investigations Unit today, either highlights a rising level of violence or tougher punishment for perpetrators.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of NASWUT teachers’ union, raised doubts about the latter.

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She said: "Teachers' physical and mental health is being affected by the failure of too many employers to support them in tackling these issues.

"Pupil indiscipline is now one of the main reasons given by teachers for considering leaving the profession, making it a key contributory factor to the national crisis in teacher supply.

"For too long, too many teachers have suffered in silence."

A further 784 exclusions in Oxfordshire were due to verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against an adult, which is in line with recent years.

While the data does not specify the job role of the 'adult', it is most likely to be a teacher or teaching assistant.

The proportion of exclusions linked to violence in Oxfordshire, compared to the total number of exclusions, has crept up from 25 per cent to 26 per cent.

The total number of fixed and permanent exclusions also remains on the rise, from 3,324 in 2015/16 to 4,560 in 2017/18.

This is despite a push by Oxfordshire County Council to reduce exclusions in schools and only use them as a last resort.

An investigation by county councillors in 2018 found that 'a high proportion of pupils at risk of exclusion were vulnerable learners and those with additional needs or disabilities.'

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Ms Keates agreed that the rise in exclusions was at least in part due to reduced resources for more challenging pupils.

She said: "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.

"These impacts have driven qualified and specialist teachers out of the profession, narrowed the curriculum offer - increasing disaffection among pupils and limiting their life chances - and drastically cut support for children, young people and families."

Commenting on an article about teacher attacks last year, one Oxford Mail reader wrote: "As a teacher of 36 years standing, being sworn at or pushed out of the way were an everyday occurrence.

"Being surrounded by 10 Year 11 lads was more scary as they moved in closer.

"But learning support staff and teaching assistants are in the firing line daily, often dealing with students who just don't want to be there, and who aren't afraid to do everything they can to be excluded."

One Oxfordshire primary school pupil was permanently expelled in the 2017-18 school year for sexual misconduct, while another was given a temporary exclusion for the same reason.

At secondary level, 20 pupils were excluded due to sexual misconduct.

Six primary pupils and 40 secondary pupils were excluded due to racist behaviour.

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Ms Keates said it was a misconception that primary school teachers face less abuse than at secondary level.

She added: "It is common for people to assume that 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."

Last week the Oxford Mail reported a rise in teacher vacancies advertised in Oxfordshire, raising concerns about a recruitment crisis.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said the Government supports the use of exclusions 'where warranted'.

He added: "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."

The most common reason for exclusion, both temporary and permanent, is due to persistent disruptive behaviour.