Breaches of coronavirus rules were behind almost two dozen school exclusions in Blackburn with Darwen last year, official figures have revealed.

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

Of these, 14 were in secondary schools, six in primary schools and one in a special school.

These made up about two per cent of the total exclusions and expulsions in the borough's school that year, with more than 900 pupils excluded or expelled in the year.

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.

Labour has 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.

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.

A spokesperson for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council said: “The data published is from school census data and shows there were 21 fixed term suspensions across schools in Blackburn with Darwen with one of the reasons within these figures given being public health.”

In Blackburn with Darwen, there were a total of 943 exclusions (923 temporary and 20 permanent) for all reasons last year.

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.

When asked about Covid rule breach exclusions, a Department for Education spokesperson said permanent exclusions are a rare but necessary way of managing behaviour – but should not mean exclusion from education.