Statistics released by the Department for Education show 163 children across the area have been handed temporary suspensions for physically assaulting another pupil in 2010-11. The same time frame saw a further 23 suspended for assaulting an adult, 37 for verbally abusing other children and 193 for verbally abusing adults. There were 19 suspensions for bullying, five for racist abuse, six for sexual misconduct and 25 for drug or alcohol related issues. A further 31 exclusions were handed out for damage and 17 for theft, with 144 for persistent disruptive behaviour and 64 classed as other. In total, 730 children across state primary, secondary and special schools were given suspensions 2.57 per cent of the total school population, with an average of 3.72 days of exclusion per affected pupil. But there were only 20 permanent exclusions across North Somerset schools, with 14 of those in secondary schools against 5,080 in total nationally. Seven pupils were handed permanent exclusions in North Somerset for persistent disruptive behaviour across the three types of school. The figures compare favourably with south Somerset, which saw 3,200 suspensions; 600 for assaulting pupils, 798 for verbally abusing staff and 24 for racist abuse. Double the number of pupils - 40 - were expelled in Somerset compared to North Somerset. Nationally, the body revealed that those eligible for free school meals were nearly four times as likely to receive a suspension than those not eligible.