School exclusions drop at most schools

Berwickshire High School
Berwickshire High School

Local Democracy Reporting Service

In 2016, there were 293 exclusions from schools in the Borders, and in 2018 that figure was 228, a drop of 22%.

Hawick High School in particular has seen a marked drop in exclusions, from 93 in 2016 to 54 last year. However, Berwickshire High School has seen a dramatic increase, going from just two exclusions in 2016 to 54 in 2018.

The figures have been released as part of a request by Hawick councillor Clair Ramage, who asked for further information on school exclusions after saying she has received reports of growing behavioural issues in the region’s schools.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council in Kelso the administration’s member for children and young people, East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, said: “The figures indicate the number of exclusion incidents, which can range from a single day exclusion to a maximum of a three-day exclusion, with the option to extend with the approval of the chief officer.

“In line with the revised guidance from the Scottish Government, headteachers across our schools are seeking to promote a more positive, inclusive education for all children and young people. This vision has been developed and shared as part of Scottish Borders Council’s inclusion strategy.

“It should be noted that the overall number of exclusions continues to reduce, which is in line with strategy.

“However, when there are specific incidents that dictate that exclusion is the only appropriate action, then this will continue to be used.”

Councillor Ramage responded: “I am getting complaints about the behaviour of pupils from across our region.

“After 40 years of teaching, I only left full time teaching six years ago but since then there seems to be a real decline in classroom and playground behaviour. We need to get this right not only for the minority of pupils that are showing signs of anti social behaviour but also for the pupils keen to work and not be disrupted and are actually scared of this unruly element.

“One professional visiting a school talked about a gang mentality within a secondary school.

“Whilst seeking the pupil’s view is commendable it needs to be remembered that the adults involved are responsible for the health, well being and educational experience of all in their charge; this applies to the health and well being of staff.”