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Nithsdale school exclusions rise

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Nithsdale school exclusions rise

UNRULY pupils causing chaos in classrooms has led to school exclusion rates increasing significantly in Nithsdale.

Pupils being temporarily excluded due to bad behaviour has climbed to a rate of 13.38 half days per 1000 pupils – far exceeding the target of 7.95 half days.

These figures are revealed in an education report covering April-September 2023, which is due to be tabled at Nithsdale Area Committee next week.

Jim Brown, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s chief education officer, wrote in the report: “Like all regions across Scotland, we are seeing an increase in pupils displaying disregulated behaviours.

“For some pupils this behaviour results in a period of exclusion to allow for a plan to support them to be created or amended.”

The mental health strain placed on youngsters during the covid lockdowns has been linked to a deterioration in their behaviour in the classroom.

Last year, the Scottish Government acknowledged that this has become a national issue, with assaults on pupils and staff also on the rise.

The exclusion rates will be discussed by councillors next Wednesday.

Mr Brown’s report states that these exclusion figures are outwith acceptable limits and details improvement action to be taken.

It states: “All schools have identified an ‘inclusive practice lead’ who has participated in NurtureUK training.

“All schools have been offered whole staff Nurture training and support to carry out inclusive practice self evaluation in order to identify next steps and training need.

“A framework of professional learning has been created for learning assistants and early years staff to support and develop their practice. “Through the strategic equity fund, four Nurture teachers have been appointed to NWCC, Sanquhar, Stranraer and Douglas Ewart clusters to support individual pupils and provide training for staff.”

While the exclusion rates did not make for good reading, attendance rates overall for schools in the Nithsdale area have improved.

Between April and September 2023 the attendance rate was recorded as 92.5 percent, an increase on 0.6 period on the same period the previous year. Meanwhile, the attendance rate for looked after children is 86 percent.

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