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OFFICIAL figures show permanent exclusions rising - up 2 per cent across the country in 199697 over the previous year. But in Leeds, hailed by the Government as an example of good practice, the figure has fallen by a third over two years.

The authority's dedicated attendance and behaviour team of teachers, educational psychologists and welfare officers has used a mixture of direct intervention with pupils at risk and longer-term strategies.

One feature has been a fall in the number of black pupils being excluded, which nationally runs at up to four times the rate for white pupils. In Leeds, where black pupils make up 3 per cent of school rolls, they have dropped from 13 per cent of expulsions to 5.

Strategies include alternative curricula for disaffected GCSE students, group work to show pupils with behaviour problems different ways of dealing with stress, buddying schemes and a course for parents.

Nationally, 12,700 pupils were permanently excluded in 199697. Some 83 per cent were boys, and 83 per cent in secondary schools. Secondary exclusions rose by 1 per cent. The biggest rise was in special schools, up 21 per cent.

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