MORE than 600 pupils have been kicked out of Inverclyde secondary schools in the past four years, new figures have revealed.

Well over half of the pupils attended local secondary schools, where nearly 400 young people have been excluded since 2015/16.

Inverclyde Academy had the most cases, with 245, while there have been 143 exclusions at Notre Dame High.

The statistics show there have been almost 100 pupils taken out of classes at Clydeview Academy in Gourock and more than 80 at the town’s St Columba’s High.

A total of 62 exclusions were recorded at Port Glasgow High over the past four years, while the town’s St Stephen’s High boasted the lowest figure of less than 30.

Verbal abuse of staff is the most common reason cited for pupils to be barred from school, with almost 180 such incidents recorded in the past four years.

The figures – which showed that a total of 631 pupils had been excluded since 2015/16 – were obtained via Freedom of Information laws.

Fighting, attacks on other pupils and persistent disobedience have been some of the other main reasons for exclusion since 2015/16.

Inverclyde Council said the total number of exclusions at its schools could potentially be higher, as individual pupils may have been removed more than once.

However, there has been a general downward trend in the number of pupils being barred from school since 2015/16.

Incidents at Inverclyde Academy have decreased by almost 68 per cent, while Notre Dame High has seen cases drop by almost half.

Inverclyde Council said it was thanks to a 'strong ethos of support' they had managed to bring exclusions down.

A council spokesman said: “We are one of the best performing local authorities in Scotland when it comes to both reducing the number of pupils who are excluded from school and in terms of the actual numbers excluded.

“In 2010-11 we ranked 30th out of Scotland’s 32 council’s with 57 pupils being excluded out of every 1,000 pupils.

"By 2016-17 we had seen a significant year-on-year reduction in the number of exclusions so that we ranked eighth out of Scotland’s 32 councils, with just 17 pupils being excluded out of every 1,000 – well below the Scottish average of 27 pupils per 1,000.

“It’s also important to put the bald figures into perspective.

"We have around 4,300 secondary school pupils."

Education bosses say that exclusion is used 'as a last resort'.

The council said: "Schools offer pupils support and intervene to promote positive behaviour before considering excluding a pupil.

"However, in some cases exclusion is necessary to maintain order and discipline within the school.

"The reason that we have been so successful in reducing exclusions is the strong ethos of support, the use of restorative practice and the promotion of positive behaviour.”