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Troubled youngsters 'suffer in cash cuts'.

Byline: Report by Richard Guttridge

A FORMER boss of a support school says he fears its loss could result in troubled youngsters falling through the cracks and turning towards crime.

The Re-Entry independent school had four centres in Wolverhampton working with children who were not in mainstream schools, including those who had been excluded.

Bob Stephenson, who was director at Re-Entry, said enforced changes to hours sent the service into debt from which it was unable to recover. Losing out on council funding was the last straw, he said.

Re-Entry had been based in the city for around 25 years. Pupils who were there have since been placed elsewhere but Mr Stephenson fears the impact of the closure of what he viewed as a crucial service could be felt in the years to come.

Violent crime has soared in the West Midlands over recent years and there have been several stabbings in Wolverhampton. There have been concerns from senior figures about the links between school exclusions and crime.

Mr Stephenson said: "We had one-to-one or one-to-two where necessary. It was an expensive provision, we had to supply mentors, teaching assistants and the rest of it.

"There is a link between guns, gangs, crime and permanent exclusions. There is no doubt that the devil makes works for idle thumbs.

"Some of these who came to Re-Entry will probably go back in mainstream schools and then get excluded at some point in the future because of their behaviour. We've had students who have been stabbed and who have been involved in gun crime."

Mr Stephenson said an offer from Wolverhampton Council last December to commission the equivalent of 10 full-time secondary places, thereby providing vital funding, was withdrawn in March due to its financial crisis, leaving it with no option but the close. Mr Stephenson said: "I feel it will be a significant loss to the city in terms of special provision. It's about getting in early and trying to modify behaviour ." Councillor Michael Hardacre, education boss at Wolverhampton Council, said: "The council had a continuing dialogue with Re-Entry but ultimately the decision to close was made by its directors. We worked with other providers and schools to ensure that all children are placed in alternative settings."

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Publication:Express and Star (Wolverhampton, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2019
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