Exclusions for bullying at Southampton’s schools have risen, figures reveal.

Department for Education figures show city schools excluded students six times for bullying in the 2019-20 academic year – all of which were temporary exclusions.

This was an increase on the year before, when there were four exclusions.

Four occurred in state-funded secondary schools and two in primary schools.

City councillor James Baillie, a secondary school teacher himself, said these figures serve as a "timely reminder".

Southampton City councillor James Baillie, Conservative..

Southampton City councillor James Baillie, Conservative..

He told the Echo: "With Anti-Bullying Week just around the corner, this is a timely reminder that bullying in any form is never acceptable.

"I know that schools across Southampton will be taking part in many activities over the week, including Odd Socks Day, and the focus on the impact that one kind word can have - focussing on the positives and good in our amazing young people."

The Anti-Bullying Alliance, which coordinates Anti-Bullying Week every year, said the number of exclusions fell dramatically in 2020 across the UK, as schools shut during the pandemic.

However, Martha Evans, director of the organisation, said this doesn’t mean bullying disappeared from schools, with a survey it carried out this year indicating a rise in cyberbullying.

She added: “Sadly, we estimate that at least one child in every classroom is experiencing frequent bullying behaviour from others.

“We know this experience can affect children’s mental health and have a lingering effect well into adulthood.

“But we must also remember that the majority of children know that bullying is never okay, and they want positive and respectful relationships with their friends and classmates.”

The vast majority of temporary and permanent exclusions in England occur in secondary schools.

Childline said the pandemic changed the “landscape of bullying” with much of it now occurring online.

Alex Gray, head of volunteer operations at the charity, added: “We know bullying can have a profound impact on children and for some it can cause them to develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

“For others it can hinder their friendships as they don’t feel accepted by their peers, it can make them wary and suspicious."