More than 600 pupils have been excluded from Dundee secondary schools in the past three years, new figures have revealed.
Figures provided to the Tele show that the eight state-run secondary schools in the city have revealed a total of 619 pupils temporary barred from campuses since the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic year.
Harris Academy had the highest number of pupils receiving exclusions in that period, with 120 pupils excluded in total.
This was more than double the number at St. Paul’s Roman R.C Academy, which temporarily barred 52 pupils in the three-year period, and was just ahead of Craigie High School – which had the second-highest number of exclusion with 118 pupils.
Responding to the figures, Councillor Stewart Hunter – who is the convener of the children and family services committee – said: “There has been a significant reduction on the number of exclusions in Dundee over the last few years.
“That’s something we have been working towards and we realise that excluding someone can have a big disruption on their education.
“We have worked closely with schools in the city to help pupils and we want to make sure we are doing the right thing.”
Cllr Hunter also outlined the complexities often faced by teachers and parents when dealing with pupils displaying problematic behaviour, highlighting that often it is symptomatic of a wider issue.
He added: “Often these pupils have underlying issues and perhaps problems at home so we have to understand this.
“We also have to deal these appropriately and sometimes exclusion is not the best option and can be avoided.”
The figures, which are up to February 13 of this year, also show however that the number of exclusions from city secondary schools has been falling year-on-year.
The 2017/18 academic year where 288 pupils excluded across the eight secondary schools, with this number dropping to 205 pupils the following year.
And as of the 13 February, there has been 126 exclusions in the current academic year.
The figures for 2019/20 also reveal there has been a significant fall in the number of exclusions from Dundee schools – which was once the highest in Scotland – over the past decade.
Previous figures show that in the 2010/11 academic year, 107 per 1,000 pupils were temporarily removed from school. This was almost double the Scottish national average, which at the time stood at is 37 pupils per 1,000.
Cllr Hunter partly attributed the reduction in the number of Dundee pupils being excluded from their secondary schools to the “Promoting Inclusion – Reducing Exclusion” framework outlined by the city council, which aimed to “work effectively with learners and parents to maintain positive relationships, behaviour and safety in schools”.
“This is the Dundee specific response the Scottish Government approach and a lot of work has been put in to working with young people,” he said.
“There are times when exclusion is the only appropriate action and parents will quite rightly want that to happen so I don’t think we will ever get to zero exclusions from schools.
“But there is not one size fits all in terms of punishment and schools have been very good with understanding what we need to do in order to support young people.
“The action of excluding a people has to be a last resort.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “These figures show the continuation of a longer term trend where the rate of exclusions in Dundee has reduced significantly.
“We have been using innovative approaches and early intervention at our schools to transform the situation.
“We are keen to assist young people to focus on better outcomes rather than face the prospect of further exclusion.
“Pupils are being helped to address their behaviour, realise the negative impact that it has on them and then move forward to gain better chances for themselves.”