We back heads when they take the difficult decision to exclude a pupil permanently. The intention must be to intervene early to nip misbehaviour in the bud and so reduce the need for permanent exclusion. Since 1997-98, the number of permanent exclusions has fallen by almost a quarter, from 12,300 to 9,330.
I welcome the improved figures set out by my hon. Friend. Will he say whether any thought is going into getting his Department to work closely with local police forces to deal with some of the antisocial behaviour that results from school exclusions, and to use that as a mechanism to pick up the most difficult young people and get them back into school?
Yes, I can confirm that. Of course, we have also introduced responsibility for parents during the first five days of absence after a pupil is excluded from school and greater responsibility for schools, local authorities and pupil referral units to ensure that those young people are not languishing around the streets, as they were in the past, but are receiving an education, as they should be. We are making significant progress in that area.