Almost 50 children are racially bullied in UK schools every day, shocking new figures reveal.

Some 9,032 cases in the classroom and playground were recorded by headteachers last year - affecting pupils as young as four.

Many were minor racist incidents with pupils shouting abuse at children or teachers.

But dozens of schools dealt with race-hate violence, according to a Sun on Sunday investigation.

Of 152 local authorities that were sent freedom of Information requests almost one-third did not keep records or discipline bullies, suggesting huge variations in response to the problem nationwide.

Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, who sits on the Commons education committee, urged headteachers to work harder to stop bullying in schools.

He said: "School is where pupils should learn there is no place for racism in society. This means that racist behaviour must be punished rather than tolerated - so that pupils know from an early age such abuse is unacceptable."

The number of race-hate cases fell from 12,505 in 2009-10 to 9,032 in 2011-12.

But BeatBullying campaigner Anthony Smythe said this was not a "real improvement" and more action was needed.

Other figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the newspaper included:

  • 53,687 racist bullying incidents logged by primary and secondary schools in the past five years
  • 8,878 pupils suspended from lessons and 53 expelled over the same period
  • 1,161 incidents recorded by schools in Leeds during 2011-12 - resulting in 81 pupils being excluded
  • 749 pupils in Kent punished more severely - with 116 barred from classes

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: "Whenever it raises its ugly head, racism needs to be stamped upon."

Schools are required by law to draw up measures to prevent bullying.

An Education Department spokesman said: "We have given teachers the powers they need to tackle bad behaviour and bullying. They can search pupils for banned items, give out same-day detentions and use reasonable force when they need to."