New school exclusion rules

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COUNCILLORS updated their rules on barring schoolchildren from school earlier this week, writes Sally Gillespie.

Tuesday’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s education executive agreed to changes bringing their school exclusions policy into line with new Scottish Government guidelines set last year.

The local policy was last agreed in 2007 and the new rules – which councillors incorporated in Tuesday’s revised policy – mean SBC has to look at individual circumstances, proactively plan to help vulnerable children avoid exclusion and organise and set timeframes for reintegrating children who have been barred.

Meanwhile some local schools’ practice of ‘unofficial’ exclusions or ‘cooling-down periods’ are now illegal following last year’s change. And that means “more stringent recording will have an effect on the overall statistics which are likely to rise in the short term,” warned education policy, planning and performance officer Diana Potter in her report to councillors.

The revised policy sets out the procedure head teachers have to follow to exclude children and includes guidelines on communicating with parents, appeals and monitoring and reviewing exclusions.

Exclusion, councillors agreed, is “an extremely serious option of last resort”, for when a child won’t comply with school rules or their continuing attendance would be “seriously detrimental” to discipline or to the educational wellbeing of other pupils.