TEACHERS are winning the war on bad behaviour in schools, ministers say - with a big drop in pupils suspended in the region.

The number of children given a “fixed period exclusion” in the North-East and North Yorkshire has fallen by 24 per cent since the Coalition came to power, new figures show.

There were 16,720 suspensions in 2009-10, before the general election, but the total fell to 12,680 in 2012-13, the department for education (Dfe) said.

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Some of the biggest declines were in County Durham (from 3,350 to 2,600), Middlesbrough (from 1,310 to 750), Stockton-on-Tees (from 1,180 to 870) and North Yorkshire (from 3,890 to 3,050).

Across England, the pattern was the same – a 19 per cent fall in the number of suspensions in just three years.

Nick Gibb, the Conservative schools reform minister, was quick to seize on the statistics as evidence that its changes to stamp out bad behaviour were working.

The minister said heads and teachers had been given “more power than ever before” to impose discipline and cut the need for suspensions.

Mr Gibb said: “We have introduced new search powers, no-notice detentions, and have put schools back in charge of exclusion appeals.

“These figures give further confirmation that our reforms are starting to have a real impact on improving behaviour in schools.

“This is supported by teachers on the ground - in 2013, more teachers rated their school's behaviour as good, or very good, than when previously surveyed in 2008.”

The Labour party declined to comment on the statistics and nobody was available at the National Association of Head Teachers.

Across England, there were more than 1,000 fewer pupils permanently expelled in 2012-13 – a total of 4,630, down from 5,740 in 2009-10.

And that trend was also mirrored in the North-East and North Yorkshire, a fall from 330 to 200.

The annual statistics were marred by a rise in the number of primary school pupils suspended for attacking teachers.

Students aged between five and 11 were suspended 9,080 times for physical assault against an adult in the 2012-13 school year, up from 8,630 in 2011-12.

But, looking back over three years, that figure has also fallen in the North-East and North Yorkshire – from 834 to 698 pupils suspended for assault.

Boys are still three times more likely to be removed from school than girls, the nationwide figures show.

Earlier this month, Government-commissioned research showed giving schools more responsibility for exclusions led to fewer youngsters being expelled.

They dealt with behaviour problems earlier and were more involved in deciding where the children should be educated, a trial found.