Locked out: How excluded children are being left behind

School gates locked
Children excluded from school are being failed by poorly performing Pupil Referral Units. Photo: REUTERS

Children excluded from mainstream education are being failed by the government's Pupil Referral Units (PRU's) and many turn to crime and leave school with no qualifications.

The Government's behaviour expert Charlie Taylor has released a highly critical report on the state of the 400 PRS's responsible for the education of 50,000 children.

Critics say the units are a "scandal": unregulated, lacking stimulation for pupils and support for staff.

One in three of those convicted after last summer's riot had been excluded from school, which prompted the government to order the review

ITV News Social Affairs correspondent Penny Marshall spoke to Charlie Taylor about his recommendations, and why the government needs to act now.

One Pupil Referral Unit in Hammersmith is getting it right; taking highly vulnerable students who have been expelled from other schools and working with their individual needs.

They have a high teacher to pupil ratio, and can work with young person's educational and emotional development. It is expensive, but it works, and as the head teacher points out investing in the education of vulnerable young people will save society money long term.

Many young people who end up in a Pupil Referral Unit have behavioural difficulties that have impacted their development.

Most are not performing as well as they should be, and the role of the unit is to raise their expectations of themselves, and help them achieve some qualifications.

Chief among Taylor's list of recommendations to the government is to give Pupil Referral Units the option of become academies.

This would enable them to have more freedom; to train staff, to employ specialist staff experienced dealing with the complex range of problems the children may have, and to seek the funding they need.