A Pounds 3 million scheme to fund alternatives to exclusion has been given the green light by Brian Wilson, the new Education Minister. It was originally announced in January by Raymond Robertson, his Scottish Office predecessor.
Mr Wilson confirmed grants to councils, worth Pounds 1 million a year for three years, would be available for projects beginning in August. He said: "Exclusion from school is the strongest disciplinary sanction available to an education authority. It is necessary in extreme cases but is not an end in itself." The Government has asked councils to submit plans by May 30. Councils can apply for up to Pounds 150,000 a year.
Aberdeen has already complained about the tight schedule but Mr Wilson said: "If there is a general feeling that it is too short notice, I am prepared to be flexible." He will meet Aberdeen officials on Monday during a tour of the north-east.