Pupils excluded for breaching Covid rules

More than 30 pupils were excluded from schools in South Tyneside for breaking rules to combat the spread of coronavurus.

School virus rules exclusions.
School virus rules exclusions.

Department for Education figures show "wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures" was the reason behind 36 exclusions from schools in the area during the 2020-21 academic year – all of which were temporary exclusions and all were in secondary schools.

They were among 12,965 pupils in England send home for reasons including non-compliance with social distancing, causing distress such as by purposefully coughing near to others, or other deliberate breaches of a school's public health measures.

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In South Tyneside, there were a total of 924 exclusions – 909 temporary and 15 permanent - for all reasons last year, an increase on the 595 in 2019-20.

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

The most common reasons were for persistent disruptive behaviour (38%), physical assault against a pupil (17%) and verbal abuse or threatening behaviour towards an adult (17%).

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.

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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.

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