THERE has been a sharp increase in the number of children being excluded from school in the North-East, with one school suspending more than half of its students during the course of an academic year.

The region had the highest rate of both permanent exclusions and short-term suspensions in England, according to new figures released by the government, with a sharp rise recorded in 2017/18.

More than 36,000 exclusions were handed out to about 11,000 pupils, with 929 in Darlington, 3,461 in Durham and 4,075 in Middlesbrough.

There was a particularly sharp increase in Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland, while one school in Sunderland – Red House academy – suspended more than half of its pupils.

It gave at least one fixed-term exclusion to 254 pupils, just over half the total attending the school.

A spokesperson for the Northern Education Trust, which runs the school, said it had "high expectations" of behaviour, which it described as essential in making sure children receive the best education.

The spokesperson added: "Students at Red House overwhelmingly report that they feel safer, learn more than they used to, and have a better chance of succeeding in school then they did before.

"As a trust, we are completely committed to sustaining this improvement for our students."

Three schools run by Outwood Grange Academies, Ormesby in Middlesbrough, Bishopsgarth in Stockton and Redcar, had all excluded more than one in four pupils.

A spokesperson for the Outwood Grange Academies Trust said: "The majority of the schools we take on are those which are the most vulnerable in the country.

"Improvements are needed at these schools and our approach of using short suspensions in the face of extreme behaviours from students, along with significant support, to help students obtain record results quickly is a successful one."

Both trusts say they have reduced exclusion rates during the last school year, with Outwood claiming a 29 per cent decrease and the Northern Education Trust saying Red House Academy had seen a 70 per cent decrease.

Nationally, the exclusion rate was 2.3 per cent, with about 30 per cent of exclusions made to deal with persistent disruptive behaviour, while more than one in ten was because of a physical assault on another pupil.

A total of 7,905 permanent exclusions were made, with 559 in the North-East, 88 in County Durham, 10 in Darlington, 59 in Redcar and Cleveland, 40 in Stockton, 42 in Middlesbrough and 11 in Hartlepool.

Academies accounted for 39 of the 41 schools with the highest exclusion rates.