Problem pupils 'being failed'

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The Independent Online
JUDITH JUDD

Education Editor

Teachers in special units for disruptive young people are condemning their pupils to a life of misery and unemployment by teaching them badly, says a damning report from school inspectors published yesterday.

Teaching in pupil referral units set up by the Government two years ago is so poor that pupils have little chance of returning to ordinary schools.

The units' main purpose is to return pupils to mainstream education yet some sent there for a few weeks end up staying.

Councils are using them to dump severely disturbed young people who should be cared for elsewhere. Although many are referred for truancy, their attendance continues to be poor.

The report, from the Office for Standards in Education, paints an alarming picture of standards at the local- authority run units which are used for pupils permanently excluded from schools, school phobics and other disruptive pupils aged from five to 16.

The report acknowledges the difficulties of providing for such a disaffected group and commends teachers' compassion and dedication, but says many of the 300 units offer only part-time education.

Angela Mukhopadhyay, who wrote the report, said the units' success rate in returning pupils to mainstream schools was between 30 and 50 per cent. "There is little evidence these children turn in large numbers to crime; the greater risk is they drift into an uneasy limbo of low expectations and inadequate aspirations," the report says.

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