THE number of exclusions in Borders schools has steadily been dropping, according to education chiefs.

In 2016, there were 293 exclusions from the region's schools, but in 2018 that figure was down to 228, representing a reduction of 22 percent.

Hawick High School in particular has seen a marked decline in exclusions - from 93 in 2016 to 54 last year.

Conversely, Berwickshire High School has seen a dramatic increase, going from just two exclusions in 2016 to 54 in 2018.

The figures have been released as part of a request by Hawick councillor Clair Ramage, who asked for further information on school exclusions after saying she has received reports of growing behavioural issues in the region’s schools.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council in Kelso, education councillor Carol Hamilton, told the chamber: “The figures indicate the number of exclusion incidents, which can range from a single day exclusion to a maximum of a three-day exclusion, with the option to extend with the approval of the chief officer.

“In line with the revised guidance from the Scottish Government, headteachers across out schools are seeking to promote a more positive, inclusive education for all children and young people.

“This vision has been developed and shared as part of Scottish Borders Council’s inclusion strategy.

“It should be noted that the overall number of exclusions continues to reduce, which is in line with strategy.

“However, when there are specific incidents that dictate that exclusion is the only appropriate action, then this will continue to be used.”

Figures for secondary schools reveal that two others, as well as Berwickshire have seen rises in the number of exclusions.

Peebles High dropped from 32 in 2016 to just 14, but that figure shot up to 35 in 2018.

Kelso High has also increased from just three in 2016 to seven the following year and 13 in 2018.

Exclusions at Galashiels Academy did climb from 36 to 49 between 2016 and 2017, but fell to 20 last year.

Selkirk High has also witnessed a drop from 36 in 2016 to 15 last year.

And Jedburgh Grammar has gone from 10 in 2016 to no exclusions in 2018.

Earlston High School has also seen exclusions go down from eight to just four over two years.

Councillor Ramage, who is also a part-time teacher, claims concern is growing about behaviour in schools.

She said: “I asked the question about exclusions across the Borders because I am getting complaints about the behaviour of pupils from across our region.

“After 40 years of teaching, I only left full time teaching six years ago, but continue to teach part time, but since then there seems to be a real decline in classroom and playground behaviour.

“We need to get this right not only for the minority of pupils that are showing signs of anti social behaviour but also for the pupils keen to work and not be disrupted and are actually scared of this unruly element.

“One professional visiting a school talked about a gang mentality within a secondary school.

“Whilst seeking the pupil’s view is commendable it needs to be remembered that the adults involved are responsible for the health, well being and educational experience of all in their charge; this applies also to the health and well being of staff.

“Pupils require a line to be drawn in the sand, ‘thus far and no further’, in failing to do this managers are doing children a huge disservice.

“Decisions taken may not be popular, but as with parents at home, sometimes the adult simply has to say enough.”