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Dingwall schools have a higher rate of exclusion than Highland or Scottish averages

By Scott Maclennan

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Dingwall Academy.
Dingwall Academy.

Both Dingwall Primary and Dingwall Academy have experienced higher average rates of exclusion of pupils for the 2022/23 session, Highland Council has confirmed.

The figures were revealed in a paper to the Dingwall and Seaforth area committee reporting on the attainment overview of the local associated school group.

It comes as staff voice concerns about a wave of violence and abuse in schools.

It showed that the exclusion rate per 1000 pupils for the primary stood at 13.5 compared to the most recent levels from 2020/21 for Scotland which were 3.6 per 1000 while the Highland average was 4.7 per 1000.

The numbers were even higher for Dingwall Academy 39.26 per 1000 pupils set against 2020/21 numbers for the national average of 22.1 and the Highland rate which was 22.6.

Those figures equate to around 47 pupils being excluded from both schools – around six from the primary (1.35 per cent) and 41 from the academy (3.92 per cent) – but questions remain as to why those numbers are higher than the averages.

In the Highland Council area the overwhelming majority of exclusions are temporary and range from 1-5 days; 6-10 days; 11-15 days and can be enacted on the authority of the head teacher or the deputy head teacher.

Exclusions of more than 15 days can only be handed down if the head teacher gets the agreement of the Area additional support needs manager or area care and learning manager.

The reasons vary but according to Scottish Government regulations a local authority must be "of the opinion that the parent of the pupil refuses or fails to comply, or to allow the pupil to comply, with the rules, regulations, or disciplinary requirements of the school.”

A second reason is if a council considers “that in all the circumstances to allow the pupil to continue his attendance at the school would be likely to be seriously detrimental to order and discipline in the school or the educational well-being of the pupils there."

That basically translates as if a pupils has become impossible to manage, staff have no resort to the parent or guardian and the behaviour continues and impacts other pupils at the school.

We asked Highland Council to allow the head teachers of both Dingwall Primary and Academy to explain the situations in the schools and outline some of the reasons for the exclusions they felt necessary.

Instead a Highland Council spokesperson said: “A recent Scottish Government report on behaviour in Scottish Schools highlighted that, while the majority of pupils were said to behave well, there has been a general deterioration in behaviour in both primary and secondary schools in Scotland since 2016.

“In Highland, we developed a whole school approach to promote positive relationships and behaviours, early intervention and de-escalation supports to prevent the need for the use of physical intervention, seclusion or exclusion from school.

“Head Teachers are supported by this framework alongside national guidance and the Council’s Managing School Exclusions policy which also reflects the rights of all children and young people as a key consideration where exclusion is being considered.”

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