RACIST abuse and sexual misconduct are among the reasons that led to schools in the area putting in place hundreds of exclusions and suspensions last year.

A total of 21 exclusions and 460 suspensions took place in schools in Barrow borough in the last full academic year (2022-2023).

Other reasons included threatening behaviour towards adults and possessing drugs or alcohol.

But the most common reason for exclusions (10) and suspensions (212) was disruptive behaviour - which includes persistently disobeying school rules - accounting for nearly half of them in the area's primary and secondary schools.

The second most common reason to suspend a pupil was verbal abuse and threatening behaviour towards an adult (73), which can entail swearing, intimidation, homophobic abuse and carrying an offensive weapon.

The data, released by Westmorland and Furness Council following a freedom of information request by Newsquest AI, showed that 57 suspensions related to assaults carried out by pupils on other pupils.

Suspensions for drug and alcohol (30) and threatening behaviour towards another pupil (21) made up the rest of the five most common factors.

Barrow's largest secondary schools accounted for the most exclusions and suspensions.

Pupils have been suspended 296 times in the academic year so far.

The Mail: The reasons why pupils were excluded in 2022-23

The Mail: The reasons why pupils were suspended  in 2022-23

A spokesperson for Westmorland and Furness Council said: “We continue to work closely with our schools who are committed to improving outcomes for all.

“The Department for Education have issued updated guidance for both suspensions and permanent exclusions which our schools follow.

"This includes putting in additional support for children and young people at risk of exclusion.”

Issuing its updated guidance, the Department for Education said: "For the vast majority of pupils, suspensions and permanent exclusions may not be necessary, as other strategies can manage their behaviour.

"If these approaches towards behaviour management have been exhausted, then suspensions and permanent exclusions will sometimes be necessary as a last resort.

"This is to ensure that other pupils and teaching staff can work in safety and are respected. Schools and local authorities should not adopt a ‘no exclusion’ policy as an end in itself.

"This can lead to perverse incentives for schools not to exclude even when exclusion may be a way for a pupil to access alternative provision which will help ensure an excluded pupil remains engaged in education.

"In some cases, a ‘no exclusion’ policy can present safeguarding issues and expose staff and pupils to unreasonable risks.

"Instead, schools and local authorities should work to create environments where school exclusions are not necessary because pupil behaviour does not require it."