EDUCATION chiefs at Wiltshire Council want to continue with an experimental way of dealing with expelled pupils.

Since 2012, 28 out of the 29 secondary schools in the county have taken over responsibility for the pupils they exclude permanently.

The schools are given money which they can use to buy special provision for the pupils, sometimes in small external units run by contracted providers. Their exam results are then included in the schools’ overall results.

A report to Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet says since the trial started, the number of permanently excluded pupils has fallen to “virtually zero” and there are signs that pupils who are excluded permanently or for a fixed period, are achieving more. Headteachers have also given the scheme their backing.

The trial was promoted by the Department for Education and in Wiltshire the council opted to close the Pupil Referral Unit, which was where excluded pupils were previously educated, along with the Young People’s Support Service, which had been put into special measures by Ofsted in 2011.

About £2.6m that had been spent on these services was then diverted to the secondary schools to pay for the provision for permanently excluded pupils.

A report from Wiltshire Council’s corporate director Carolyn Godfrey to the Cabinet says that last year 28 excluded pupils were in full-time alternative provision and 596 were on in-house programmes.

She says the idea of the trial scheme is to make schools more accountable “and therefore to raise the achievement of a very vulnerable group of young people”.

Her report says the trial period for the scheme officially ends in July and asks the Cabinet meeting, being held on Tuesday, to consider setting up an agreement with schools for the scheme to continue.

Ms Godfrey says the pilot scheme is working well and any change would cause “considerable turbulence” to the pupils.