Good bahaviour comes at a price

EDUCATION chiefs have been told to stump up the cash if they want to keep troubled children in school.An Audit Commission investigation has called for headteachers to work harder at keeping difficult youngsters away from a life of crime.

EDUCATION chiefs have been told to stump up the cash if they want to keep troubled children in school.

An Audit Commission investigation has called for headteachers to work harder at keeping difficult youngsters away from a life of crime.

But one Ipswich headteacher who is already winning that battle has called on government money-men to provide funding if they are serious about making the idea work.

Since Westbourne High School's social inclusion unit was built, permanent exclusions have dropped by 60-80 per cent.

Funding for the unit was axed last year and cash-strapped Chris Edwards is now having to find the money from his already tight school budget.

He said: "If the government is serious about doing this I don't understand why they took the funding away.

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"It was a big agenda a few years ago because of the impact on children when they are not in school, but they have phased out that funding."

Mr Edwards said it was undeniable that children who were excluded from school were more likely to turn to crime.

But he said the battle to help troubled youngsters stay on the straight and narrow was winnable – as long as the cash is there to support the campaign.

He said: "I agree with the whole idea. Our social inclusion unit has been very successful at reducing the number of children who are permanently excluded from school.

"But the government ended inclusion funding and it's very difficult to sustain from our own funds."

The Audit Commission's report revealed one troubled youngster had cost the taxpayer more than £150,000 by the time he was 15.

It argued those costs could have been avoided if more effort had been made to meet his needs while at school.

And it demanded headteachers work more closely with youth offending teams to try and address problems before they get out of hand.

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