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Plea for problem pupil 'dowries;News;News and Opinion'

SCHOOLS should be given "dowries" of pound;5,000 to take on children with behavioural problems, says a representative of some of the country's most successful state schools.

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Technology Colleges Trust, is also calling for problem pupils' results to be taken out of performance tables to encourage his members to admit them.

The trust represents 455 specialist technology colleges, which are improving their GCSE results at about twice the rate of other state schools.

With ministers already believed to support the dowry idea, Sir Cyril's proposals may provide the blue-print for a national scheme.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said next year's Standard's Fund was expected to provide extra funds to finance transfer grants for difficult pupils.

Sir Cyril is expected to tell his organisation's annual conference in Nottingham on Friday that the burden of educating children with special needs is not being shared equally.

While successful schools, including many of his members, have full rolls, less celebrated neighbours have many vacant places. This means that the latter are often required to accept more than their fair share of problem children, frequently those who have been excluded from other schools.

He said: "I am proposing that children with behavioural problems should be identified at the earliest possible age and be designated at-risk through a special statementing procedure.

"Schools willing to retain these children would be given a special grant of pound;5,000 per pupil in addition to regular funds to pay for mentoring and special support services."

Chris Bunting

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