BREACHES of coronavirus rules were behind almost 100 school exclusions in Worcestershire last year.

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.

Department for Education figures show "wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures" was a reason behind 86 exclusions from schools in Worcestershire in the 2020-21 academic year – all of which were temporary exclusions.

Of these, 54 were in secondary schools, 13 in primary schools and 19 in special schools.

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.

Schools were able to list multiple reasons for each exclusion for the first time last year.

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 is not unreasonable that young people should be expected to comply with these measures.

In Worcestershire, there were a total of 2,873 exclusions (2,809 temporary and 64 permanent) for all reasons last year – up from 2,379 in 2019-20.

Figures for the most recent academic year include a period in spring 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions meant that only key worker and vulnerable children were attending school in person, with others being educated remotely.

Of the 16 possible reasons for exclusion, public health was the eighth most frequent.

The most common reasons were for persistent disruptive behaviour (29 per cent), physical assault against a pupil (23 per cent) and verbal abuse or threatening behaviour towards an adult (17 per cent).

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.