More than 4,000 children under five excluded from school

Figures reveal explosion of violent attacks on adults and other children in nurseries
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The Independent Online

Children as young as two are being excluded from their nursery schools for assaulting fellow toddlers and even the adults in charge of them.

Figures released yesterday showed that more than 4,000 children aged under five had been excluded from school or nursery in the past year – most for assaulting staff or pupils.

It is the first time the Government has produced such a detailed breakdown of primary-school exclusions. It did so after a Commons question from the Conservatives' schools spokesman Michael Gove. The figures show that 4,150 children aged five or under have been excluded, 1,450 for physical assaults on an adult and 1,010 for assaults on children. Twenty toddlers aged two and under are included.

Headteachers' leaders have repeatedly warned that more children who are starting school or nursery are unable to interact properly, mainly as a result of lack of communication at home and watching TV too young.

Researchers from Cambridge University have also pinned the blame for a behaviour crisis in Britain's primary schools on overindulgent parents.

Research commissioned by the National Union of Teachers cites cases where children as young as five have been allowed to stay up until 3am or where parents have given in to temper tantrums, with the result that their children think they can get their own way at school by throwing a fit.

"Motivating certain children had become more difficult because by the time they came to school many of these children had become experts in manipulating adults," the report said.

Teachers had indicated that the biggest increase in their workload over the past six years had been dealing with parents over behaviour issues.

Mr Gove said the figures were shocking. "Teachers need the power to maintain order in the classroom and clamp down on bad behaviour before it escalates into violence." He called for headteachers to be given more power to permanently expel violent children without the prospect of them being reinstated through appeal processes. More than 41,000 children have been excluded from primary schools in the past 12 months – 60 for drug and alcohol-related offences. The youngest to be excluded for an alcohol-related offence was aged six.

More than 260 children were excluded for a sexual misconduct – the youngest aged three. A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was difficult to understand Mr Gove's argument, as the evidence suggested headteachers were using their powers to clamp down on bad behaviour.