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Pupils past the point of no return

Nearly two-thirds of pupils permanently excluded from secondary school never return to mainstream education, according to a report due out next week.

The report from the New Policy Institute, a left-of-centre think tank, highlights a four-fold increase in permanent exclusions from English secondary schools since the start of the decade, up to 12,500 in 199697.

While 35 per cent of permanently excluded pupils eventually return to mainstream education, it was estimated that only 15 per cent returned during the three-month period of the autumn term in 1994.

But permanent exclusions are far less common than fixed-term exclusions. According to the Children's Society, the report says, there were 137,000 children suspended from school in 199596.

The report states that the rate for exclusion for black Caribbean children from secondary schools was proportionally six times greater than for white pupils.

In 199596, 867 black Caribbeans were excluded, compared with 109 Indians, 255 Pakistanis and 10,096 whites.

While more than two-thirds of those excluded were between the ages of 13 and 15, the sharpest rise took place at primary-school level, where 1,600 pupils were excluded in 199596, an increase of 18 per cent on the previous year.

According to the figures, exclusions are not evenly distributed. Almost two-thirds of exclusions are concentrated in one-quarter of schools. Despite evidence that 73 per cent of schools have excluded at least one pupil, a large proportion of exclusions occur in a relatively small number of schools.

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