THE head teacher of Hermitage Academy says there is no single underlying cause behind a rise in the exclusion rate at the school.

Robert Williamson told local councillors that there tended to be specific, “very human”, reasons behind each decision to exclude a pupil.

Mr Williamson was speaking to a report which revealed the rate of exclusions per 1,000 pupils had risen from 9.74 in 2015-16 to 24.6 in 2017-18.

Addressing members of Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee, Mr Williamson said: “I only exclude a pupil when I feel I have to.

“But I do feel we have to continue to explore alternatives to exclusion wherever we can.

“There isn’t any evidence to say that exclusion changes the behaviour of the pupil who is excluded.

“If you don’t exclude, some people will always think it’s a soft option, but we have to be more creative in our interventions.

“The reasons behind exclusions tend to be very human things. We want to change behaviour, not just punish it.

“But Hermitage is a school of 1,300 young people and the vast, vast majority are incredibly positive, all the time.”