SECONDARY schools in St Helens issued 12 fixed period exclusions for sexual misconduct, latest figures have found.

In the latest Department for Education (DfE) figures released found there had been a decrease in St Helens fixed period exclusions at both primary and secondary school level.

In 2016-17 there were 210 fixed period exclusions in St Helens primary schools and 1,293 in secondary schools.

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Meanwhile, the latest figures, which are for 2017-18, show 177 fixed period exclusions in primary schools and a drop to 1,229 in secondary schools.

This amounted to 2,297 days of fixed period exclusions.

The year 2017-18 also saw five permanent exclusions for primary pupils and six in secondary schools.

Of the fixed period secondary exclusions, 370 were for persistent disruptive behaviour and 199 were for physical assault on a pupil, with 127 for physical assault against an adult.

Meanwhile, 44 were for verbal abuse against a pupil and 285 for verbal abuse against an adult.

There were six for bullying, 19 for racist abuse and 12 for sexual misconduct.

Meanwhile, 29 were drug and alcohol-related and 18 related to damage and seven to theft.

Councillor Sue Murphy, cabinet member for developing young people, said: "A key priority for the council is to ensure that our children have access to quality education which meets their needs. We work closely with our schools and partners to ensure that exclusion is a last resort.

"Early intervention with appropriate and timely support has contributed to the positive school exclusion figures for St Helens published by the DfE. They show the exclusion rate is up both regionally and nationally in the secondary sector while in St Helens our fixed term exclusion rate is down. The exclusion rate among primary schools in St Helens is also down bucking the national trend.

"Along with our schools we are confident we can build upon the positive outcomes that have been achieved so far - with a partnership approach we will continue to ensure that all our children reach their full potential."

Meanwhile, nationally more than 303,000 children in state-maintained primary and secondary schools in England were handed permanent or fixed-period exclusions for assaulting a pupil or adult, or for drug and alcohol issues, between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

Figures from the DfE, and analysed by Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit, show that in this period, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all exclusions were because of violence, alcohol and drug problems.