Schools face penalties for expulsions

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The Independent Online
SCHOOLS could face financial penalties for expelling pupils, David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, said yesterday. Mr Blunkett told MPs on the Commons Health and Education Select Committees that the Government was considering how schools could be given incentives to think carefully before excluding pupils.

Both committees are investigating the plight of the 51,000 children in care, 75 per cent of whom are destined to leave school without any qualifications. In some local authorities, children in care are also thought to account for as many two thirds of those excluded from school.

A clause in the School Standards and Framework Bill to be considered by a Common committee today allows schools to refuse to admit pupils who have twice been expelled from school. If no school will accept them, they will have to be educated either in a pupil referral unit or "sin bin", or by tutors at home.

Questioned by Nick St Aubyn, Conservative MP for Guildford, about the cost of implementing the new exclusions policy, Mr Blunkett said: "Should the cost of alternative provision be shared so that there is an incentive for schools to play their part in retaining children in the system? We are looking at that."

Outside the committee Mr Aubyn said that there might be some rationale in clawing back the money the school had received for an excluded pupil at the beginning of the year. At present, schools keep the money even if the pupil is expelled.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat's education spokesman, asked Mr Blunkett about evidence that some teachers had subtle ways of dissuading young people whom they considered difficult from going to school, even though they could not lawfully refuse to admit a child.

Mr Blunkett said: "I do believe there is a very real issue here. We must resist the clarion call of those who say that there are children who can't ever be in normal schooling and have to be rejected for the sake of the staff."

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