Letter: Out of school

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YOU REPORT (31 March) that 137,000 pupils a year are "banned from schools". What has not been acknowledged is that children looked after by local authorities have been disproportionately affected by the recent explosion in school exclusions as schools compete in examination league tables.

Twenty-five per cent of youngsters aged 14-16 in public care are are either excluded or not attending school regularly. As a stable home environment is considered key to educational achievement, it is not surprising that children who have suffered the disruption involved in family breakdown are over-represented in exclusion statistics. Those who have suffered abuse or neglect are particularly likely to find difficulty conforming to the demands of a school environment.

Since most children in public care are placed in foster care, the exclusion explosion has also greatly increased pressures on foster carers, who have to make alternative arrangements for children in their care who are temporarily or permanently excluded.

For the Social Exclusion Unit, seeking target groups to benefit from special government interventions, there can be few more disadvantaged and deserving cases than children in public care who are excluded from school.

PAT VERITY

Policy and Service Manager.

National Foster Care Association

London SE1

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