The majority of children being excluded from Glasgow schools are white boys, a council meeting heard this week.
Kids with additional support needs are also more likely to be affected, but the numbers of kids being excluded overall is decreasing every year in the city.
One councillor asked: “What’s happening with our boys?”
Glasgow council education boss Maureen McKenna said: “The challenge for us is white young men – white boys. They are our challenge in terms of those who are affected by exclusion.
“At secondary you are much more likely to be excluded if you are white.”
Speaking at the council education skills and early years city policy committee on Thursday, she added: “If you have additional support needs you are more likely to be excluded.”
The director for education explained that could include a child experiencing stress or difficulty managing their behaviour.
There were 256 secondary pupils excluded in the year 2020 to 2021.
Male teens were excluded 251 times in high schools during that period while girls were affected 61 times.
Twenty per cent of pupils were excluded more than once. Sixty-one primary pupils were affected by exclusion.
Again, boys were excluded significantly more than girls.
A total of 55 pupils at secondary school from the black and minority ethnic (BME) community experienced exclusion.
Councillor Anna Richardson said: “I want to focus on what is happening with our boys.”
Pointing out there is a gap between boys and girls, the SNP politician said: “My question is what is going on with our education system that we continue to have a system that clearly doesn’t work as well for our boys as our girls.”
Ms McKenna replied: “For me it is about learning and teaching.
“It is about meeting children’s needs and recognising that some young people learn in different ways.
“Outdoor education has helped. There is nothing better than having boys outside releasing their energy and learning in different ways. We have a conservative – small c – education system.”
She said efforts point to exams and questioned whether that meets the needs of all young people.
She concluded: “No it doesn’t.”
Ms McKenna added: “For some of our young people particularly those from disadvantaged communities who don’t have a long history of further and higher education then schools don’t always work.”
She pointed out the importance of alternative pathways and holding on to the child and keeping them in education.
Only half a percent (0.49 per cent) of pupils were excluded in 2020 to 2021.
Asking what can be done to support white Scottish and British pupils better, Labour councillor Stephen Curran said: “A lot of the time these will be young people in particularly difficult circumstances in other situations outwith schools.”
Ms McKenna said: “It is an ongoing challenge for us. I think reducing exclusions and the impact on youth violence in the community is lifelong work for us.”
She explained that “having nurture, compassion and care at the centre of what we do is absolutely key”.
She added: “Reducing exclusions is about having the highest expectations possible. It is not about lowering expectations.
“Being able to cope within a school community for some children is really hard work. We have to make sure the classroom is a safe place and our schools are doing that in some wonderful ways using nurture.”
She said hundreds of support staff have been trained to help them understand “it is not about saying when a child is acting out it is bad behaviour”.
Ms McKenna said staff are encouraged to consider whether something else is going on.
A council report said in 2020 to 2021, there were 20,577 girls and 21,148 boys in primary schools and 13,447 girls and 13,392 boys in the city’s secondary schools.
By local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley
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