A 'RAPID' surge the children being expelled from school is being blamed on council cuts.

Physical assaults on adults is one of the key reasons for the surge, which has seen scores of youngsters kicked out of education.

Oxfordshire County Council statistics from the 2016-17 academic year show there was a 57 per cent rise in primary school expulsions and a 34 per cent rise in in secondary schools, with the total number of expulsions going up from 58 to 81.

Department for Education figures for 2015-16 in Oxfordshire, showing a rise from the previous year of 11 per cent for temporary exclusions and 15 per cent for expulsions.

The most common reason in secondaries was persistent disruptive behaviour, but in primaries it was physical assault against an adult.

Temporary exclusions are also on the rise, with pupils losing 6,361 days from their secondary school education due to being temporarily excluded, and 1,388 from primary schools.

Headteachers stressed expulsions were a 'last resort' often used after fears over other pupils' safety.

St Gregory the Great School in East Oxford had the highest number of expulsions in Oxford schools, banishing five pupils.

Vice principal Rodger Caseby admitted rising figures were 'a concern', but pointed the finger at council cuts to services such as children's centres.

But Oxfordshire County Council says some children excluded have it overturned on appeal, suggesting schools are not using the practice properly.

Mr Caseby said: "There are all sorts of services that support young people in challenging circumstances, which have been cut in recent years and are continuing to be cut.

"We don't believe this is an unsurprising consequence of that. It's easy to demonstrate savings if you cut something, but it is harder to predict the costs in real terms."

Lord Williams's School in Thame topped the county-wide table, expelling six pupils.

Dr Caseby stressed the measures were only used where necessary, adding: "There are behaviours that are so unsafe that it's impossible to reduce that risk to an acceptable level."

Oxford Spires Academy in East Oxford expelled four students in 2016-17, up from three.

Sue Croft, who retired as headteacher in summer, said it was necessary to protect students' safety.

She added: "You always want permanent exclusion figures to be zero, and anything else feels like a failure. But sometimes you just have to do what's right."

Expulsions at The Oxford Academy in Littlemore bucked the trend, dipping from six to two.

Headteacher Niall McWilliams said: "Ours have gone down slightly but across the county they are going up rapidly.

"The loss of early intervention services have an impact on students' behaviour. There is no doubt that will impact families and vulnerable young people."

County councillor and education expert John Howson said dwindling school budgets was a key contributing factor.

He said: "Exclusion numbers were going down all the while school funding was improving.

"When money is tight, this is one of the things schools will take a line of least resistance to.

"Serious questions need to be asked - frankly, 11-year-olds should not be excluded in these numbers."

He said being kicked out of school can lead to a 'downward spiral' into crime, which was concerning given cuts to youth justice services.

Professor Howson, who was a magistrate for 22 years, added: "It's a false economy: there's greater risk they'll end up in a young offenders' institution. The cost of that is considerably more than a couple of thousand [extra] on a school's budget."

When a child is expelled, the council will work with parents or carers to find another school or an 'alternative provision academy' such as Meadowbrook College, which has four bases across the county.

These offer education especially for children struggling in mainstream school.

The county council's report noted 15 cases of expulsion in Oxfordshire had been quashed through appeal in the past year, adding: "This suggests protocol may not be being followed accurately by schools."

The council's cabinet member for education, Hilary Hibbert-Biles, noted most secondary schools in the county are academies, independent of the local authority.

She added: "The recent rise in numbers of exclusions is clearly a concern, though rates at Oxfordshire schools remain below the national average.

"The underlying reasons for any single exclusion are likely to be many and various – and always complex.

"We are seeking reassurance from academies that all options are being exhausted before such action is taken."