THE number of pupils being excluded across Northumberland has trebled over three years.

But the percentage of these exclusions being handed out for violence, alcohol and drug problems has fallen.

The figures come from the Department for Education (DfE), and have been analysed by the Data Investigations Unit run by the Hexham Courant owners, Newsquest.

The most recent figures show that 4,405 children in state-maintained primary and secondary schools in Northumberland were given fixed or permanent exclusions in 2017/18.

This had risen from 1,540 in 2015/16.

In 2015/16, 24 per cent of pupil exclusions had been handed out due to physical assault against another pupil, an adult, or drug and alcohol-related cases.

But this had fallen to 11 per cent of the total number of exclusions in 2017/18.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “There has been a historical issue with exclusions from Northumberland schools, exacerbated by changes in some schools’ behaviour policies and the way alternative provision is used.

“The data reported here relates to the academic year 2017/18, and large strides have been made since then in improving the situation in the county.

“Exclusions dropped by 22 per cent in 2018-19 and were down again in the autumn term of 2019-20.

“The council was very concerned by the growth in permanent and fixed term exclusions in 2017-18 and, determined to address this, set up a task and finish group to consider how improvements could be made.

“We spoke to headteachers, alternative providers and other local authorities which have effectively addressed this issue.”