Top marks after big drop in exclusions

SSHC 0414039 bell baxter 'exterior of Bell Baxter HS, Cupar
SSHC 0414039 bell baxter 'exterior of Bell Baxter HS, Cupar
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Bell Baxter High School in Cupar has been given top marks by councillors after it was revealed it had one of the lowest exclusion rates in Scotland.

North east Fife area committee members were told that the school - one of the largest in Scotland with more than 1600 pupils - had adopted a restorative system to deal with unruly pupils that had proved to be ‘very powerful’.

Depute rector Hugh Martin told councillors that a punitive system was ‘counter productive’ and that getting to the underlying causes of their behaviour was much more successful.

“There is a lot of work being done in terms of how you should deal with pupils who behave inappropriately,” he said.

“We have found that detention doesn’t work and you will not find our teachers lambasting pupils or shouting at them.

“We have had restorative meetings that have proved very powerful.

“I think we’re seeing the success of our approach in our low exclusion levels.”

Councillor David MacDiarmid said that in his Howe of Fife ward he’d heard concerns about bullying at the school, in particular cyber bullying.

“Any school in the UK that says it doesn’t have bullying is not telling the truth,” said Mr Martin.

“It is how you deal with it that is important.

“We have had input from local police officers and other groups to alert young people to the dangers of social networking and cyber bullying is discussed within social education. It is all about early intervention.”

Mr Martin said that attendance and time-keeping at the school had also improved significantly, largely thanks to a text messaging system that had been set up to alert parents if their child didn’t turn up.

“What we have heard is so welcome,” commented Councillor Donald Lothian.

“The way the pupils present themselves now is indicative of a high performing school.”