The lack of pupil referral unit space and fear of being taken to court is forcing schools to find alternative solutions to exclusions.
In Croydon, Woodcote and Coulsdon high schools have set up a reciprocal arrangement where children who would have been temporarily excluded are sent to the other school for two days. They sit outside the head's office, completing pre-set work.
Mark Southworth, Woodcote's head, said parents agreed to the unorthodox arrangement because their children avoided the black mark of official exclusions on their records. It also kept the schools' absence and exclusion numbers down.
Deborah Duncan, head at Horbury School in Wakefield, said she had circumvented planning laws to convert changing rooms on a nearby sports field into an "impact centre" for problem pupils. The centre, dubbed "Hotel California", has angered residents on California Drive.
Ms Duncan said she had to wear a hood when she visited to avoid verbal abuse from neighbours. She said her solution of rehabilitating pupils was better than excluding them entirely.