CHILDREN as young as four are being suspended from Swindon primary schools for bad behaviour.

Reception class pupils are among those who have received fixed-term exclusions over the past five years amid a national rise in the number of children attacking their classmates.

The most unruly group was year six, with 37 children suspended.

The total pupils sent home was 136, according to figures put together for Swindon Council’s Children’s Trust Board.

The most recent year has seen an increase in bad behaviour.

The report said: “In the primary sector fixed-term exclusions rose by 21 per cent from 112 to 136.”

Even Swindon, Goddard Park, Millbrook, Oaktree, Oliver Tompkins Junior, Ruskins Junior and St Luke’s Special School all used the disciplinary measure.

Swindon Academy, which caters for children of primary and secondary age, excluded 21 pupils across year groups over the past five years.

A source at one of the schools said: “It is a long, drawn-out process to suspend a child of primary age. The reason why they are misbehaving is home life.”

However, the report found Swindon is below the national average for suspensions for both age groups, and has seen a 50 per cent reduction between 2006 and 2011.

The town was also the third lowest out of 11 comparable authorities in its number of fixed-term exclusions.

A report released by the Department For Education in the summer caused concern when it revealed primary school pupils across the country were suspended 9,160 times between 2010 and 2011 for physically assaulting other children.

The figures were up by about 100 on the previous year.

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The Swindon Fair Access Panel has worked hard to reduce the number of permanent exclusions in Swindon schools over the last few years, with numbers falling by more than 50 per cent since 2007/08.

“Fixed-term exclusions have also fallen by 50 per cent in recent years.

“The panel is made up of council officers and assistant and deputy headteachers and has developed procedures to allow pupils who are at the point of exclusion to continue their education at alternative schools, if appropriate, or at the borough’s Pupil Referral Unit until they are ready to return to mainstream education.

“However, the council’s role in supporting pupils who are excluded is likely to change as more schools become academies.

“Under Government policy, academies will be responsible for the education of any pupils who are permanently excluded and a new partnership approach will need to be developed to build on the success of the Fair Access Panel.”