ALMOST 150 youngsters were excluded from Barnsley schools last year due to breaches of Covid-19 rules, new shock figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Department for Education show ‘wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures’ were the reason behind 144 exclusions from Barnsley schools in the last academic year.

Of those, 135 were in secondary schools and nine were in primary schools - whilst 142 were temporary and two permanent.

There were a total of 2,248 exclusions across the borough in the 2020-21 academic year - 2,212 temporary and 36 permanent - for a number of reasons, up from 2,240 the previous year.

Figures from the most recent academic year include a time frame in spring 2021 when coronavirus rules and restrictions meant that only vulnerable children and kids from key worker families were able to attend school in person, whilst the rest were educated online.

Of the 16 possible reasons for exclusion - with the latest year being the first schools were able to list multiple reasons for each incident - public health was the fifth most frequent.

The most prevalent reasons for exclusion in Barnsley were persistent disruptive behaviour which accounted to 42 per cent of incidents, whilst verbal abuse or threatening behaviour accumulated 21 per cent.

Physical assault against another pupil also accounted for 11 per cent of all exclusions in Barnsley.

Stephen Morgan, Labour’s shadow school 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.”

However Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said it is not unreasonable to expect youngsters to comply with the measures that were in place.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said schools following guidance were often forced to suspend students in cases of persistent rule breaking and and unsafe behaviour.

“Unfortunately cuts to health and social care services mean that the safety net for excluded young people has too many holes in it,” he added.

“This is something that the government should address urgently.”