By Tom Moseley, Parliamentary Correspondent
MORE than 35 pupils are suspended from schools in the Bristol area each day, new figures reveal.
Hundreds of students are excluded for assaulting staff, racist abuse and drug and alcohol offences.
The figures, from the Department for Education, revealed a total of 6,980 suspensions were issued in the 2009/10 school year in primary and secondary schools across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset, which works out as more than 35 every school day.
The largest proportion of suspensions were handed out in Bristol, where the 2,960 total represented 6.28 per cent of the entire school population, compared to the national average of 4.46 per cent.
In the city, 570 suspensions were for physically assaulting a fellow pupil, and 247 for attacking a member of staff. Verbally abusing or threatening an adult accounted for 552 suspensions, while persistent disruptive behaviour was the most common reason.
A total of 54 suspensions were handed out for drug and alcohol related incidents, and nine for sexual misconduct.
A total of 1,960 children were suspended in South Gloucestershire schools, with threatening a member of staff the most common reason in 528 cases.
There were 20 permanent exclusions. The amount of both suspensions and permanent exclusions were down on the previous year.
There were 1,220 suspensions over the course of the year in Bath and North East Somerset, and 840 in North Somerset, just 2.53 per cent of the school population.
Threatening an adult was the most common reason for suspension in North Somerset, accounting for 187 suspensions, and the second most common in Bath and North East Somerset, after persistent bad behaviour.
The total number of suspensions does not represent how many children were suspended, as many will have been excluded more than once.
Meanwhile, there was little change in the amount of students being expelled permanently from school. The highest proportion was again in Bristol, where there were 50 expulsions over the year, followed by 20 in North Somerset and 10 in Bath and North East Somerset.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “With thousands of pupils being excluded for persistent disruption and violent or abusive behaviour we remain concerned that weak discipline remains a significant problem in too many of our schools and classrooms.
“Tackling poor behaviour and raising academic standards are key priorities for the coalition government.”
Bristol City Council spokeswoman Katharine de Lisle said the council kept permanent exclusions as low as possible by monitoring students at risk of getting expelled.
The city has agreed to a three-year trial of a new way of managing exclusions, which means schools remain responsible for students who are expelled, and have to monitor their results.
She added: “This will help drive up the quality of alternative education provision, and ensure that children remain part of the school and the local community.”