An anorexic girl was excluded from attending lessons at her private a school because staff were worried fellow pupils would copy her and develop the eating disorder, the girl's mother has claimed.

Lottie Twiselton developed severe anorexia when she was 14 and spent a year being treated at an outpatient clinic in London.

Despite being told she could return to the £12,000-a-year Northampton High School after she was discharged, the school barred her from lessons. Her presence was deemed "too disruptive to the rest of the year group", her mother said.

Lottie, now 16, was forced to enrol at another school to complete her GCSE year. The teenager said she felt the school "abandoned" her during her recovery.

She told the Times: "When I was very sick and still at school I felt like I was being treated like an outsider. It was as if the school wanted me to keep my head down and pretend nothing was wrong.

"Nobody can understand how important the return to school is when you're in recovery.

"My illness got worse and the school need to realise that it very nearly killed me."

Her mother, Claire, 44, believes the school removed her from class as they feared other girls would follow in her footsteps.

She said: "The headteacher was visibly shocked by a nasal tube Lottie had to wear and quickly ushered her into a room away from other girls.

"Without a doubt one of the main reasons Lottie was not allowed back to school because she was someone who lots of people looked up to.

"In the headteacher's eyes, she may well have inspired copycat disorders."

Head teacher Sarah Dixon denied that Lottie was excluded but believed she needed more time to recover.

She said: "The health and wellbeing of our pupils is at the heart of everything we do.

"The school responded to say that they were very keen to support Lottie's integration but remained of the view that it would be preferable to wait until Lottie was well enough to return on a full-time basis.

"To say Lottie was excluded is simply not true as is the assertion we were concerned about copycat issues."

Support groups said that Lottie's story showed that teachers needed more information when it came to dealing with pupils who suffer eating disorders.

Jane Smith, director of Anorexic and Bulimic Care (ABC), told IB Times UK: "We often find that teachers are frightened by eating disorders and the possible contagion effect, and feel out of their depth. Sadly, their pupils generally know more about this subject than they do.

"Schools are more comfortable dealing with physical illnesses or talking to students about issues such as drugs or alcohol where, one could argue, 'contagion' might also follow.

"ABC would like teachers to have more support and more education about eating disorders; how to help prevent them, how to talk to pupils generally, and how to support a pupil when they are receiving treatment or in recovery, a recovery which often takes years."

Leanne Thorndyke, head of comminucations at B-Eat, added: "You can't 'catch' an eating disorder - not even from copying what someone else does unless you have the hardwired risk already.

"It may be that schools do this, not knowing it isn't a risk factor - so better information for schools about the causes and risks of eating disorders would help. We work very closely with schools providing training so they know how to support students and have up to date and correct information about eating disorders."