THE hard core of pupils excluded from school accounts for less than 1 per cent of the total, according to statistics published this week.
The first annual survey on school exclusions shows there were 34,831 exclusions from primary, secondary and special schools in 1998-99, but only 200 were removed from the register of a school (formerly defined as "permanent exclusions").
The figures, which do not refer to individual pupils but to the number of exclusions, confirm known trends: those at greatest risk of exclusion are white third and fourth-year boys in urban areas. Just under half of those excluded were entitled to free school meals.
The survey also shows for the first time why and for how long pupils are excluded. Around a quarter featured general o persistent disobedience, 15 per cent were for verbal abuse of school staff and 13 per cent involved physical abuse of fellow pupils. Nearly half of temporary exclusions were for three or two days.
The average exclusion rate was 46 per 1,000 pupils, ranging from 101 exclusions per 1,000 in Glasgow to two in the Western Isles.
Peter Peacock, Deputy Minister for Children and Education, said the information would help to develop anti-exclusion strategies, for which pound;26 million has been earmarked over three years.
Mr Peacock recognised the frustration felt by teachers when there is class disruption. But that had to be balanced against the fact that "exclusion from school is often the catalyst for educational and social problems in later life".