A PILOT scheme which has been said to radically improve long-term prospects for excluded pupils will be continued in Wiltshire secondary schools.

Wiltshire Council was one of seven local authorities taking part in an innovative Department for Education scheme which moved responsibility for excluded 11-to-16-yearolds from councils to schools.

The trial began in September 2012 with schools directly organising provision for permanently excluded pupils.

It is due to end in July 2014 but council leaders, with the backing of secondary schools, are being asked to continue the new system. A report to council leaders shows the impact of the trial with permanent exclusions falling from 21 before the start of the trial to zero.

The number of days lost to fixed-term exclusions – ones that last for a set period of time – fell from 1,755 in 2011-12 to 1,440 in 2012/2013 and just 182 so far in 2013/14.

The number of pupils receiving fixed-term exclusions fell from 972 in 2011/12 to 765 in 2012/13 and 153 so far in 2013/14.

Council leaders have agreed to continue to devolve the funding to secondary schools to provide suitable education for pupils permanently excluded or at risk of permanent exclusion from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2017.