THOUSANDS of pupils were permanently excluded from Hampshire schools for physical assault and drug and alcohol-related offences, new statistics reveal.

2,780 pupils in the county were expelled for assault, drug and alcohol offences in 2017-18, making up 35 per cent of the total exclusions that year.

It included 1,035 exclusions for physically abusing an adult, something which has led to teachers "suffering in silence", according to a union.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of NASUWT, added: "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. 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," she added.

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

“The NASUWT has gathered evidence on the extent of the verbal and physical abuse being faced by teachers, some of whom report abuse occurring daily. Their physical and mental health is being affected by the failure of too many employers to support them in tackling these issues.

“No teacher should have to go to work with the expectation that they will be abused. All workers are entitled to a safe working environment, free from violence and disruption.

“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."

The number of students expelled for these offences has gone up in recent years; in 2015-16, 2,376 pupils were excluded for these reasons.

However, the total number of exclusions in the county has risen quicker over that time, going from 6,619 in 2015-16 to 7,960 in 2017-18.

Over 1,500 pupils were expelled for physical assault against another pupil, whilst 241 were kicked out for 'drug and alcohol related issues'.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “The Government supports headteachers in using exclusion as a sanction where warranted. That means backing heads to use their powers to issue fixed-period exclusions in response to poor behaviour, and to permanently exclude, as a last resort.

“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. Permanent exclusion remains a rare event.”