BEING THROWN out of school is a key "trigger" leading to homelessness, says the charity, Crisis, which is calling for a cut in the number of exclusions to reduce the growing numbers of people sleeping rough in Britain.
Children who have been excluded from school are 90 times more likely to end up living on the streets than those who stay on and pass exams, according to latest government figures.
More than a quarter of all those living rough had been excluded from school, and 62 per cent have no educational qualifications.
The statistics are published today in a new report from Crisis. The charity says schools must do more to help prevent homelessness if Labour's goal to cut the number living on the streets by two-thirds by 2002 is to be reached.
Shaks Ghosh, Crisis chief executive, said: "We already know that a poor education reduces people's chances in life. But people ending up on the streets because of poor qualifications is an example of modern-day poverty in its most extreme form."
The Crisis report, which was based on interviews with 120 people sleeping rough and staff at 19 homeless centres, found that a third of young homeless had been in care and 40 per cent claimed to have suffered violence or abuse. More than a third had mental health, drug or alcohol problems.
Recent research across two London schools by the charity for young homeless people, Centrepoint, showed that one in five pupils expected to leave home within two years of leaving school. All expected more help from the council than they were likely to get.
Campaigners say schools should also do more to identify pupils who are at risk of being made homeless because they have problems in the parental home.
The report identified several root causes of homelessness, including school exclusion, marital breakdown, family disputes, mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse and leaving care, prison or the armed forces without support.
Ministers are aiming to reduce exclusions by a quarter by 2003.
The report 'Prevention is better than cure' is available for pound;6.50 (plus pound;2 postage) from Crisis on 0171 655 8337.