Dozens of children in Portsmouth were excluded from schools for breaching Covid rules during the pandemic

BREACHES of coronavirus rules were behind more than 100 school exclusions in Portsmouth last year, figures reveal.

Hand sanitiser in a classroom. Photo: PA
Hand sanitiser in a classroom. Photo: PA

Department for Education figures show ‘wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures’ was a reason behind 112 exclusions from city schools in the 2020-21 academic year – all of which were temporary exclusions.

Of these, 91 were in secondary schools and 21 in primary schools.

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.

Stephen Morgan MP, has spoken about his concern over exclusion rates at school Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-11)

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However, Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s shadow schools minister and Portsmouth South MP, 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.’

In Portsmouth, there were a total of 1,325 exclusions (1,319 temporary and six permanent) for all reasons last year – up from 1,187 in 2019-20.

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

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

A Department for Education spokeswoman said permanent exclusions are a rare but necessary way of managing behaviour.