THE numbers of children being expelled from Bolton schools has rocketed.

Figures presented to councillors show that permanent exclusions in schools this academic year are nearly double those at the same time last year.

The statistics come as a group of police and crime commissioners warn that a “broken” school exclusion system is linked to a surge in knife crime.

Between September and January, 2017/18, 26 pupils in secondary school were permanently excluded, but that figure rose to 41 during the same time this academic year.

In primary schools the figure rose from two to 12 in the same period. In 2017/18 a total of 86 pupils were expelled from high school compared to 63 in 2016/17. In primary schools that figure was five, down from 14 the year before.

Tony Birch, assistant director of education and learning said: “This report sets out our current picture on exclusions in the borough. To put it into context, Ofsted recognises that in the vast majority of our schools behaviour and attitudes are strong. We are mirroring the national path, we are seeing an increase in exclusions. This is something we are keeping a close watch on and working closely with our schools.”

Bolton Council said there has been a fall in the number of exclusions over persistent disruptive behaviour but there had been an increase in “one-off” incidents and a decrease in the number of pupils with education and health and care plans receiving exclusions. He said that a “lot of work was taking place to reduce exclusions”.

This included development of a behaviour support service for families and providing a “bespoke” training to school staff; senior pastoral leaders working together to share good practice and school based social, emotional and mental health provision to address concerns earlier.

Phil Hart, chairman of Bolton Learning Alliance, said that work with vulnerable families and vulnerable young people was key to reducing school exclusions. He said: “As a school we staff our support system in a very different way that 10 years ago in terms of multi-agency collaboration work to support families.”

Figures show that Bolton is near the top of the scale in Greater Manchester for expulsions for physical assault against a pupil as 10 pupils were thrown out of school in 2016/2017 and nine were expelled for assaulting an adult — the second highest in Greater Manchester.

Mr Hart said that there was no evidence of off-rolling in Bolton’s schools — the practice of removing difficult pupils from registers to boost average exam results.

Recently police and crime commissioners wrote to Prime Minister warning that a “broken” school exclusion system is linked to a surge in knife crime.

They said many of those committing offences had been excluded from school, and called for an end to unofficial “off-rolling”.

Figures show that permanent exclusions in England increased by 56 per cent between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

Ofsted head Amanda Spielman said that it is the problems which lead to a pupil’s expulsion — rather than the decision to exclude them from school — which is more likely to explain later violence.