A government review after last summer’s riots is to recommend wide-ranging powers for institutions teaching those expelled from mainstream schools.
Ministers will this week announce that the schools, to be known as pupil referral units, will be able to become academies with the power to set their own timetables, curriculum and staff wages.
They are designed to tackle what ministers have branded the “educational underclass”.
Head teachers have already been given powers to make it easier to expel unruly children. It is hoped that the disruptive pupils can be moved more quickly to the special units.
The proposals form the central recommendations of a review of school discipline and truancy conducted by Charlie Taylor, a headmaster and the Government’s behaviour adviser.
The review is understood to back higher fines for the parents of truants. Ministers are believed to be in favour of docking benefits if the fines are not paid. However, the publication of the review may be delayed as the Liberal Democrats are understood to be opposed to more draconian sanctions.
Mr Taylor said: “We have a flawed system that fails to provide for some of the most vulnerable children in the country.
“If we fail to give them a first-class education then, as the events of this summer showed, we will pay a heavy price.
“Mainstream academies flourish and improve faster than the national average. Heads of the best pupil referral units tell me that they want the same freedoms.”
A senior government source said the new generation of schools would focus on teaching basic skills such as reading and writing. Teenagers may also be taught vocational skills. The source said: “They will be freed from the constraints of local authorities to teach their own curriculum and pay staff appropriately.”
Children who are excluded from schools already attract far higher levels of government funding.
However, the results from pupil referral units are typically appalling.
Figures published last year showed that in 2009-10, only 1.4 per cent of pupils in the institutions achieved five good GCSEs, compared with a national average of more than 53 per cent.
It is hoped that many pupils will be able to return to mainstream schools after short, but intensive periods.
The system is the latest reform introduced by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to improve school discipline.
From The telegraph