One of East Renfrewshire’s best performing schools had the joint-highest number of suspended pupils last year, the Barrhead News can reveal.

Mearns Castle High accounted for a quarter of the local authority’s temporarily excluded students in 2016/17.

The school, which was among Scotland’s top five for exam performances last year, suspended

10 children.

Woodfarm High School also ordered 10 pupils to stay away from school at times last year, while Barrhead High excluded six pupils.

A total of 39 high school pupils in East Renfrewshire were suspended from class, with the council’s remaining schools all having less than five exclusions each.

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesman said: “We have robust procedures in place to tackle any unacceptable behaviour within our schools, with exclusions

extremely rare.

“When dealing with any matter, appropriate and proportionate

action is always taken, in line with council policy.

“A decision to impose a period of exclusion is taken only in exceptional circumstances, with the pupil, parents and staff involved throughout the process.

“In the specific cases of Mearns Castle and Woodfarm, the exclusion rate remains well below the latest national average of 48 exclusions per 1,000 pupils and we remain committed to reducing any exclusions as far as possible.”

Over the last five years, there have been more than 118 exclusions in the council area’s schools.

A total of 36 pupils were suspended in 2012/13, 17 in 2013/14, 14 in 2014/15 and 25 in 2015/16.

There have been fewer than five primary school children suspended in the last five years, with none excluded in 2012/13, 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The country’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, insisted exclusions should always remain an option for headteachers.

A spokeswoman said: “All schools have policies in place to deal with the wide range of discipline issues that can arise and local authorities are required to ensure sufficient resources are in place to allow schools to implement discipline policies and to respond appropriately to any incidents during the school day.

“It is important the causes of this poor behaviour can be addressed to allow children to gain their full potential and enjoy their educational experience.

“Budget cuts have led to a reduction in pastoral and mental health support being offered by schools and also in support staff, which results in greater challenges when it comes to offering pupils individual support if required.

“It is important schools always have the ability to continue to offer a diverse and engaging curriculum to avoid children becoming disengaged from their education, which could also lead to problems with a pupil’s behaviour.

“However, in some instances, headteachers may have no other option but to exclude a pupil to avoid their behaviour having a detrimental impact on the other pupils in the class who are generally well behaved.”