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School exclusions are a ‘pipeline to prison’, says rugby legend

School exclusions are a “pipeline to prison”, a Catholic former England rugby union legend has said.

Lawrence Dallaglio explained that Alternative Provision (AP) – where children go once they have been expelled – has become a forgotten part of society.

The 2003 World Cup winner set up charity Dallaglio RugbyWorks in 2008 to help those excluded from mainstream education.

According to the organisation, on average 2,720 young people between the ages of 14-16 are excluded from school in the UK each year – 14 exclusions every school day.

It places its coaches in local AP where they work with local teaching staff, using the values of rugby to help youngsters develop a wide range of skills to gain qualifications and employment.

Dallaglio, who was educated at Ampleforth College, said it worries him that 63 per cent of the prison population were excluded from school at some point.

“What that told me was that the system is fundamentally flawed,” he told the Press Association.

“Exclusion then becomes a pipeline into prison. I know that sounds quite dramatic, but that is the facts.”

The former England captain continued: “And the cost of exclusion to the state I think could be significantly reduced if there is some sort of intervention at a crucial age.”

The Institute for Public Policy Research estimates the cost of exclusion is around £370,000 per young person in lifetime education, benefits, healthcare and criminal justice costs.

Dallaglio said: “Alternative Provision has almost become a forgotten part of society that people don’t really seem to care too much about.

“But ultimately it is a part of society that is having quite a direct cost on society – we are starting to see a lot problems arising.

“There is no doubt that if you don’t change people’s behaviours, then it is going to be a problem.

“The other issue that we face in this country is that these young people that are in the AP environment get let out and released into society a year younger than anyone in mainstream.

“What that basically tells you is that the most vulnerable young kids, who need more support than anyone, are actually given less support than anyone.”

The rugby ace was speaking at the Greenhouse Centre in Marylebone, London, which uses sports coaching – particularly in table tennis – and mentoring to empower disadvantaged schoolchildren.

Picture: File photo dated 02/09/18 of former England rugby union player Lawrence Dallaglio, who has said school exclusions are a “pipeline to prison”. (Richard Sellers/PA).