THE number of children being thrown out of Bolton schools for drinking and taking drugs has more than quadrupled in just a year.

Shock figures released by the Department for Education show that 110 suspensions were issued for drug and alcohol related incidents in the past academic year – compared to just 24 in 2013/2014.

The statistics show that 1,970 fixed period exclusions were issued in state funded primary, secondary and special schools in the borough in 2014/15 compared to 1,630 in 2013/14.

Education chiefs at the Town Hall say they work closely with schools and provide additional support for pupils who need it.

Verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against pupils and adults was also up, leading to 440 suspension notices being issued – up from 325 the previous year.

Threatening behaviour or verbal abuse against an adult alone, which warranted a suspension, was up from 261 to 340.

Julia Simpkins, secretary of the Bolton-branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Children are put under a huge amount of stress and pressure with all this testing regime. We also know that suicide among school aged children is rising. Put in this context the figures for drug and alcohol figures are not as surprising.”

She added: “In Finland which is near the top of the PISA table, children do not start formal education until they are seven and do not sit exams until they are 16. The explanation is we are putting our children, these are children, under stress and pressure.”

There was also a rise in the number of suspensions issued for sexual misconduct — up to 20 from 14. Schools issued 540 fixed term exclusions for persistent disruptive behaviour, up from 509. There was no change in the number of suspensions handed out for racist abuse. Those figures remained at 20.

Incidents of physical assaults against pupils and adults which led to children being thrown out of class fell from 504 to 490.

Bullying incidents resulting in a period of exclusion fell from 19 to 10 and those thrown out for causing damage fell from 40 to 30.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We work very closely with our schools to promote good behaviour and commission a pupil referral service through Bolton Impact Trust which provides additional support where necessary. While exclusions have risen it still represents a small percentage of the school population and reflects similar rises in other local authorities.”

He added: “Our behaviour support service continues to work with parents and schools to support children and young people and create a safe environment in the classroom.”