A PUPIL kicked out of class for fire-raising was one of 29 excluded from Hermitage Academy during 2018-19, new figures have revealed.

A freedom of information (FoI) request to Argyll and Bute Council showed that the pupil was one of two across the area's secondary schools to be banned from the classroom for the offence during the last school year.

The total figure for temporary or permanent exclusions at Hermitage was one fewer than in 2017-18 – but was still an increase of more than 50 per cent on the 18 exclusion incidents in the school's record for 2016-17.

The council's response to the FoI request showed that a total of 649 temporary or permanent exclusions have happened across Argyll and Bute's 10 secondary schools since the start of the 2015-16 academic year, with Hermitage, the area's largest secondary, accounting for 91 of those.

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Three pupils in Argyll and Bute were excluded in 2018-19 for malicious communications against staff – two were pupils at Oban High and one at Lochgilphead High.

A pupil at Campbeltown Grammar was also excluded for assault using an improvised weapon against a member of staff, while two pupils – one from Dunoon Grammar and one from Oban High, were banned for assault using a weapon against a pupil.

In total, eight pupils across the last four school years have been excluded for using weapons, actual or improvised, against either pupils or staff.

No other exclusions for fire raising had taken place in at least the previous three academic years, the council’s data has confirmed.

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Fighting was the most common exclusion offence at Hermitage last year, with a total of eight pupils removed – the same number for the offence as the year before.

Five exclusions each took place for verbal abuse of staff and for offences defined as ‘other’ by the council FOI officer.

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual cases, however we take the wellbeing of pupils, teachers and all school staff very seriously.

“It should be noted that we have hardworking staff and pupils who, together, achieve often award-winning success.”

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Sergeant Andrew Barron, from Police Scotland in Helensburgh, said: “Regarding the exclusion of the pupils, it would not be for Police Scotland to make any remark upon as this would be the decision of the education authority.

“In terms of fire raisings in general in the community, all ongoing, live fire raisings are treated as a priority incident to which a response resource would be allocated and assistance sought from Fire and Rescue.

“With regard to already extinguished small fires (maybe rubbish fires for example) that have been set, the police will still respond where required and if there is a crime identified, this would be investigated.

“Helensburgh police office has a dedicated youth engagement officer who is on a daily to weekly basis in contact with local schools and visits regularly to maintain and develop the link between the police and the youth community in schools in the area.”

Only four exclusion incidents took place across all primary schools in Helensburgh and Lomond, according to a report which went before the council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee in June.