CALLS have been made for better sex education in schools after figures revealed children as young as five have been excluded for sexual misconduct.

Freedom of information figures released this week showed 754 pupils around the country were permanently or temporarily excluded in the last four years for acts including watching pornography and sharing indecent images.

North Yorkshire County Council said that between July 1, 2013 and March 31, 2017, “there have been 1,640 referrals that have been reported by a school”, but could not reveal how many of these “involved a sexual act”. The council also said 528 referrals were made in the year to March 31, 2017.

City of York Council said they did not contribute figures to the report.

The NSPCC said the information showed that sex education should be “dragged into the 21st century”, and every child had the right to feel safe at school.

A spokesman said: “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 (personal, social, health and economic education) curriculum.” Only 15 local authorities provided data which confirmed children had been suspended for “sexual misconduct”, which could include sexual abuse, assault, bullying, holding, distributing or requesting indecent images, accessing internet pornography. In March, the Government announced children would be taught about healthy relationships from the age of four, with sex education compulsory in all secondary schools, from September 2019.