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Staff attacks 'no coincidence'

Reacting to the figures, the Scottish Tories once again made a connection between the "coincidence" of falling exclusion rates and rising violence against school staff.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, the party's education spokesman, said: "This is the third year in a row that exclusions have fallen, and it is no coincidence that the incidence of violence against teachers has simultaneously rocketed.

"Today's figures show that just over 1,500 pupils were excluded for violence against staff last year, however last month's figures show that there were more than 5,000 incidences of violence against staff. The implication of this is that there were more than 3,500 incidents of violence against staff which were not punished by exclusion.

"If assaulting a teacher is not an excludable offence, then what is?"

Lord James, a former education minister, suggested the solution was to give headteachers control over their schools so they can exclude unruly pupils.

"Teachers should have the right to refuse to teach any pupil who has a proven record of violence in school.

"Instead these pupils should be sent to special units equipped to deal with them properly and correctly, in the hope that they can be put back into mainstream education as reformed young people."

Fiona Hyslop, the SNP's education spokesperson, highlighted the figure showing that the number of exclusions resulting from verbal and physical attacks by pupils on teachers is at the highest levels since 1999 - up by 31 per cent over the period.

"The Executive have tried to ignore this problem and offer excuses," Ms Hyslop said, "but these figures make a total mockery of Peter Peacock's recent claims that problems with the data made it impossible to get a true picture of violence in Scottish schools."

Ms Hyslop added: "The worry is that, since 1999, the number of pupils who have been excluded after verbally or physically attacking teachers has gone up by over 1,000, which means that more and more staff have become victims of abuse.

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