7 Apr 2018
Children are excluded from schools in Scotland more than 14 times a week for assaults involving weapons, a five-year high.
New figures have shown there were 428 instances of a pupil being excluded for a physical assault using weapons like knives last year, and a further 311 incidents involving improvised weapons.
That total of 739 is higher than the 661 incidents two years previously, and the 710 reports in 2013.
The statistics, published recently by the Scottish Government, are only gathered every two years.
They show a further 336 children were excluded for threats of using a weapon, as well as 1734 for fighting and 361 for substance misuse.
Theft (89), fire raising (190) and even indecent exposure (14) also featured on the list.
Overall, the number of exclusions has declined in recent years.
The 18,377 cases last year – the overwhelming majority of which were temporary – is half the rate of a decade ago.
Scottish Conservative early years spokeswoman Michelle Ballantyne said:
“While it’s generally welcome to see a reduction in the number of exclusions in recent years, the individual reasons are alarming.
“Parents will be horrified that two pupils a day are excluded for violent incidents involving a weapon – either conventional or improvised.
“That shows a problem with discipline remains within our schools, and that teachers need more support in dealing with it for the sake of their own safety and that of other pupils.
“If children aren’t shown now that the use of weapons, and other examples of violence, won’t be tolerated, the chances are they’ll continue doing it into adulthood.
“These figures are a cause of concern not just for schools, but for society more generally.”