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Expelled pupils miss out on help

Nearly half of children expelled from school in Wales are receiving less than 10 hours-a-week alternative education, according to official statistics.

The figures emerged as the Assembly government said it would be developing new performance indicators for councils for 2006-7, to measure provision for excluded pupils.

The issue was highlighted in a recent report from inspection agency Estyn (TES Cymru, February 25), which said only a handful of local education authorities were meeting a 2002 requirement that excluded pupils receive a "full-time" education.

The Assembly government's data for 2003-4 shows that 48 per cent of excluded pupils received less than 10 hours-a-week tuition. The figures rose to more than 60 per cent in Torfaen, Bridgend, Swansea, and Anglesey - and to 90 per cent in Cardiff, which has only one pupil-referral unit (PRU). Around 400 pupils a year are permanently excluded in Wales.

At the other end of the scale, it is impossible to tell from the data how many LEAs are hitting the target of 25 hours a week because figures are only given for the percentage of pupils receiving less than 10 hours, and between 10 and 25 hours.

The Assembly government is also to tighten up the definition of PRUs after the same Estyn report uncovered 51 unregistered - and therefore uninspected - units catering for excluded children and others not attending school.

The review will form part of wider guidance on pupil support and inclusion issues, due in April. The guidance will also advise on tracking pupils who drop out of school, and the increasing numbers expected to be legitimately off-site to attend colleges or work-based training as part of the reforms to the 14-19 curriculum.

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