ONLY one child was permanently excluded by Scottish schools last year, astonishing new government statistics have revealed.
Despite growing concern about violence and disruption in the nation’s classrooms, the Scottish Government has almost ended the practice of permanently barring badly-behaved pupils.
The Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, which are collected every two years, confirm that in the whole of 2016/17, one pupil was permanently excluded.
In the academic year 2014/15 the figure was just five and two years before that it was 21. In the year 2010/11 saw 60 permanently thrown out of their schools.
The decline in permanent exclusions is all the more dramatic when the total of 248 in the year 2006/07 is taken into consideration.
The figures reveal, however, that the number of children excluded from school for shorter periods – usually a few weeks – remains high.
There were 18,376 temporary exclusions last year, compared with 26,784 in 2010/11.
Seamus Searson General Secretary of Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association claimed ministers were “covering up” widespread indiscipline in Scottish schools.
He said: “Schools have been prevented from excluding youngsters. It’s one of statistics to say the situation os okay. It’s not okay.
“Behaviour is worse now because of cutbacks. There’s a shortage of teachers and support teachers. Some of the things that would’ve helped.”
He continued: “They’re trying to deal with it but the accepted normal has become lower and lower.
“There’s nowhere else for these youngsters to go because of all the cutbacks over the years. So they have to go back to school.
“The schools can’t cope and the system is covering it up. I’ve spoken to head teachers and they say they can’t deal with it.”
Mr Searson added: “It’s one of the statistics the government is trying to drop.
“Schools now see it as a black mark against their record and head teachers see it as a mark on their management style.
“Its disappointing. There’s a problem but the authorities are covering it up.”
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “On the face of it, it’s welcome that children being permanently excluded is such a rarity.
“However, that would suggest conduct in classrooms has improved dramatically and teachers have never been safer.
“That doesn’t tie in with statistics or anecdotal evidence from teachers and unions.
“No-one wants to see mass exclusions, but we also have to know schools are taking the safety of teachers and pupils safely.”
Data collected by the GMB union in Scotland suggest that there was an average of 32 attacks per school day on teaching support workers.
An FOI by the office of MP Paul Masterton and MSP Jackson Carlaw have shown that there were more than 909 physical attacks on teachers in four years in East Renfrewshire alone.
In November a 13 year old pupil from Jordanhill School in Glasgow was rushed to hospital for stitches after being stabbed by another pupil.
And a 14-year-old boy boy was arrested in September last year after he knifed a fellow pupil at St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn, West Lothian.
In October last year a 12-year-old boy at Aberdeen’s Ellon Academy had to be treated by paramedics after suffering an assault from another pupil.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The overall rate of exclusion has more than halved since 2006-07 due to the continued focus by schools and education authorities to build on and improve their relationship with children and young people most at risk from exclusion.
“Serious violent incidents are rare in Scottish schools, but the Scottish Government is actively working with schools and local authorities to tackle serious disruptive behaviour and violence where it does exist.
“Our refreshed guidance Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing School Exclusions, published in June, prioritises prevention and early intervention, with exclusion being an option of last resort where it is a proportionate response.”