DOZENS of York children were excluded from school last year after breaching Covid rules, figures have revealed.

Department for Education statistics show that "wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures" was a reason behind 30 exclusions from schools in York in the 2020-21 academic year.

It said all of the exclusions were temporary, and 29 were in secondary schools and one in a primary school.

City of York Council said that as a local authority, it encouraged schools to follow their agreed behaviour policies around Covid guidance, during what was an 'incredibly challenging time' for everyone working in education.

"The decision to exclude a child is taken independently by schools, following their own internal processes and procedures," said a spokesp;erson.

"It is often their last resort following significant or repeated breaches of school behaviour policies, and is not a decision they take lightly."

Children across England were excluded 12,965 times for reasons including non-compliance with social distancing, causing distress such as by purposefully coughing near to others, or any other deliberate breach of a school's public health measures.

In York, there were a total of 1,205 exclusions (1,191 temporary and 14 permanent) for all reasons last year – up from 919 in 2019-20.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools worked very hard to keep pupils and staff safe during the pandemic, and it was not unreasonable that young people should be expected to comply with these measures.

The National Association of Head Teachers said schools following guidance were sometimes forced to suspend students in cases of persistent rule breaking and unsafe behaviour, with school leaders making tough decisions to keep everyone safe.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the union, said exclusions were always a last resort – and had fallen to an all-time low across England – but should not mean the end of the road for pupils affected.

Labour said the Government's lack of clear guidance over pandemic measures threatened children's futures, and contributed to almost 13,000 of these exclusions nationally.

Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s shadow schools minister, said: “The Conservatives have created deep divides in school exclusions, with the lack of clear guidance, especially during the pandemic, threatening children’s futures and failing communities.

“The Government’s own independent review highlights the need to tackle exclusions and ensure children are supported in order to improve life chances.

“No parent wants to see their child excluded from school but once again the Conservatives have treated our children and their future opportunities as an afterthought.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said permanent exclusions were a rare but necessary way of managing behaviour – but should not mean exclusion from education.