Very young children are being excluded from primary school because of their aggressive and sexual behaviour, an Ofsted report says.
The schools receive inadequate support from local authorities in some cases, or cannot afford the alternative strategies that help troubled young children to cope with school.
Some have repeatedly removed children under the age of 7, for fixed periods or permanently, although the total numbers of exclusions are still low for this age group. Reasons for exclusion included biting, chair-throwing and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Earlier this month The Times exposed the extent to which children as young as 4 were being excluded, after a survey of local authorities.
The Ofsted report, published today, paints a picture of some schools struggling to cope with the disturbed behaviour of children from complex backgrounds.
Some of the children had been exposed to domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty or a parents illness. One boy had seen his mother killed in a refugee camp.
The report criticises the Government for not collecting enough data on exclusions. This has resulted in an incomplete picture of what has been happening to children aged 7 and under, it says.
Primary schools did not always receive adequate support from the local authority, in addressing childrens mental health needs or getting specialist support for overtly sexual behaviour.
Early intervention, and strategies such as nurture groups (small supportive groups) were highly effective, but schools often could not afford to put these in place. Those that managed to reduce the number of exclusions had all taken a strong line on low-level disruptive behaviour. Two groups of infant and primary schools were selected for the survey: one where the number of exclusions was high and one that did not exclude children.
The report said: What determined a schools rate of exclusion was not its social context but the combination of its philosophy, capacity to meet challenges and, sometimes, the response received from its local authority and outside agencies when they were asked to help.