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Excessive exclusions deplored

Inspectors' report a damning indictment of errors and omissions that led to a crisis at The Ridings School.

Lack of jobs, nursery education and family centres for isolated young mothers are the most significant factors in the explosion of youth crime, according to a leaked report by the Audit Commission.

Young People And Crime, which will be published on November 21, condemns the excessive use of exclusions by schools and the failures of the youth justice system, which currently costs Pounds 1 billion a year.

According to the Observer, which obtained a copy of the report, excluded children "spend most of their waking hours with nothing particular to do and have few positive goals to work for". It suggests that any school which excludes a child should be legally required to take in a pupil excluded by another school.

The report also notes that the education welfare service, intended to get truants back into school, has a higher-than-recommended ratio of staff to children, no professional training, no agreement on what it should do and no monitoring of whether it is done.

Structured nursery schooling should be available free for all three-and-four-year-olds living in the highest-risk neighbourhoods, and should help reinforce parental discipline.

Family centres should also be set up in such neighbourhoods to support new parents and those with problems, focusing on those isolated from their own families. Experienced volunteer parents should be on hand to offer practical help for an hour or so each week.

TES November 8 1996 "It's scandalous that any school should have been allowed to get into this condition. The law allows I the LEA one last chance I and they'd better get it right".

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