UP to four children a day are caught in school with weapons including rifles, knives and knuckle dusters, police figures have shown.

The report included a ten-year-old who was found with a 12in bread knife in a primary school in the Cleveland Police force area.

Across the country, almost 1,600 weapons were seized from schools in the past five years, figures from 20 of the 52 police forces showed.

Many of the pupils were given reprimands or warnings by police, who have also confiscated axes, daggers, catapults and imitation guns.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: “Unfortunately in recent years we have seen children carry weapons for fear of attack with no intention of using them and this may well account for many of these cases.”

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed the equivalent of four weapons were being seized on every school day each year from primary and secondary schools across the UK.

But the actual figure is likely to be even higher as no seizures from Britain’s biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, were included in the data.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said schools should be free of weapons and “all children should be able to learn free from fear or violence”.

Cleveland Police’s temporary chief constable Jacqui Cheer, the Acpo lead on children and young people, said: “Carrying a weapon of any kind in school is not an issue for schools to deal with alone; police and partners will always be willing to work with a school to take appropriate action.

“Police involvement in schools, whether it be officers engaging with schools through delivering talks and interactive sessions or police officers based in schools under the safer schools partnerships, allows officers to educate children on why carrying weapons is unacceptable and the consequences they can expect if do choose to carry one.”