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A switch in time secures Jake's future

Jake Burton believes he owes his career to the system of managed moves adopted by Stoke-on-Trent council.

Two years ago, the 16-year-old was about to be permanently excluded. The comprehensive he attended had had enough.

"I had had a couple of fights with older lads who were bullying me," said Jake. "I lost my temper. The teachers were not very supportive, and once I got a name for myself they didn't want to know."

He was offered a second chance by Edensor high, in Stoke. There were teething troubles, but these were soon ironed out by a more flexible and supportive approach taken by his new school.

To start with he did half-days and the school had discussions with him and his parents about what should be done.

"Jake is a very strong-minded young man and he appreciated being dealt with as an adult," said William John, Edensor's pastoral manager. And it worked.

This year, Jake passed eight GCSEs, seven at grade C or above. He says the results were crucial in his being able to start as an apprentice electrician this summer.

Permanent exclusions at secondary level fell dramatically from 73 to 19 when Stoke's 17 secondaries adopted managed moves in 2003-04. Last year, they fell even further to four.

Schools can refer difficult pupils to a panel of school and council representatives, which meets monthly. Usually, pupils move on a six-week trial basis to a school nominated by parents, who can give a first and second preference.

Mr John said that of seven managed moves taken on by Edensor, only one had been unsuccessful.

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