Letter: School success

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The transformation of The Ridings school ("How hard work saved The Ridings", 22 October) is a remarkable success story. Not least among its achievements is the fact that since Anna White and Peter Clark took over, only one pupil has been permanently excluded. But one question remains: what happened to the 12 children who were originally excluded? Were they found alternative schools immediately, or did they, like most excluded children, languish at home for months before a place was made available? Children excluded from school are by and large forgotten about. On average they lose 90 per cent of a year's schooling and drift towards crime; 78 per cent of young people who appear before the youth courts have been excluded from school.

A 1996 Ofsted report profiled excluded children and found that common factors included poverty, the need to look after sick or disabled parents, loss of parents through death or family breakdown, strained family relationships, racism, absentee fathers, involvement of older siblings in crime and drugs, lack of parental control and physical or sexual abuse.

If we could be assured that these children are being offered the same care and attention as those who remain in school, we could rest confident that the real issues of social exclusion are beginning to be tackled.

IAN SPARKS

The Children's Society

London WC1

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