MORE needs to be done to help children with special needs and challenging behaviour stay in education in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area.

An inquiry into local inclusion practices has found that while some schools and colleges do a first class job others ‘sit on their hands.’

Inquiry chairman Anthony Douglas said examples had been found where children were passed around the system and were so insufficiently included in their school life that it led to exclusions and suspensions ‘often leading to a slippery slope for the young person concerned’.

He told the BCP Council’s children’s services and overview committee on Tuesday evening that he believed the situation could be improved but for many schools it would require a change in culture and policies and more collaborative working between schools and colleges.

The inquiry has resulted in a raft of proposals with 45 recommendations.

Mr Douglas said that among them was the need to change the banding system for offering support – something which he said was currently ‘archaic’ and went nowhere near meeting the real costs.

He told councillors that he appreciated improving the system would be expensive – but believed the investment would pay off in the long term with lower exclusion rates and more settled children and young people whose life chances would be improved.

Portfolio holder Cllr Nicola Greene said that a banding review was already underway but warned that some of the other work might take a longer time, especially if they involved capital investment.

She said that work had started on business cases for some of the proposals but there was also a case to be made for using what was already in the system in a better way.

The report itself warns that the biggest challenge will be a lack of resources to implement some of the recommendations.

The report, if approved by cabinet, will go out for consultation before coming back to councillors for final approval with separate actions being submitted for authorisation as they arise.