Vulnerable Sheffield teenagers are at risk of drifting into a life of crime due to funding changes that could mean them becoming lost in the system, according to charity Nacro.
Nacro’s education expert Josh Coleman warned of a looming crisis on a visit to the charity’s centres in the city.
He said the raising this year of the school leaving age to 17 meant schools kept problem pupils on their books to retain the funding they attracted – even if they no longer came to classes.
“As a result they are falling through the cracks, effectively excluded in all but name. There is a financial disincentive for schools to refer 16-year-olds on to specialist provision.
“There is growing evidence that those with complex educational and behavioural needs are being shoehorned into pupil referral units, taken off the school results roll or simply let go without being referred into specialist provision. They become ghost exclusions.”
Mr Coleman said organisations like Nacro were reporting referrals were down by almost 40 per cent in the last few months alone.
“These learners are likely to disengage with not only their school through increasing truancy but also their local communities.”