A BOY as young as five was among those excluded from school for sexual misconduct in County Durham over the last four years, it has been revealed.

The revelation comes in figures obtained by the Press Association, showing hundreds of school pupils have been either permanently or temporarily kicked out of the classroom nationwide in the last four years.

Their exclusion comes after being involved in sexual acts, including watching pornography, sharing indecent images, and harassment.

Details provided by Durham County Council showed 35 children had been temporarily excluded, between July 2013 and April 24 - mostly for a couple of days, but the most being for 15 days.

There were eight incidents of children under 10 years old - the age criminal responsibility - disciplined for misdemeanours. It included two girls.

The county council said it was only told when a pupil was excluded from school due to an inappropriate sexual incident and full details were held by the individual schools.

Durham was the only local authority in the region to provide the information. Others said they did not hold the information or refused to disclose it.

Nationwide there were 754 reported incidents in the four years, according to the 15 authorities who released information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The data has prompted calls for a revamp of sex education in the classroom.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “Every child has the right to feel safe at school.

"Preventing harmful sexual behaviour through proper, up to date sex and relationships education is immeasurably better than excluding children after the harm has been done.

“By giving children the right information about sexuality, consent, risks and protection we teach them how to make healthy relationship decisions, how to treat others and how to know when something is not right.

"Social media, sexting, online porn and dating apps did not exist when sex education was introduced on the curriculum a generation ago.

“It must be dragged into the 21st century, it must be consistent, and it must be offered in every school as part of a broader PSHE curriculum.”

A Department of Education spokesman said: “Sexual assault of any kind is an offence and must always be reported to the police.

“Schools should be safe places and we issue safeguarding guidance to protect pupils’ welfare.

"As announced in March 2017, all primary schools will be required to teach Relationships Education and all secondary schools will have to teach Relationships and Sex Education in the future.”