Wiltshire Council has agreed to continue a schools programme which has reduced the number of children being excluded.

In July 2011, Wiltshire was one of seven local authority’s selected by the Department for Education to take part in a pilot which gave secondary schools responsibility over excluded pupils rather than councils.

As part of the scheme the council’s four Young People’s Support Service centres in Devizes, Chippenham, Trowbridge and Salisbury closed and £2.6m was shared between Wiltshire’s schools to fund their programmes.

Since the trial started permanent exclusions fell from 21 in 2011/12 to two in 2012/13 with fixed term exclusions dropping from 972 to 765 in the same period. The Government trial was due to finish in July this year but Wiltshire Council has agreed to extend the scheme until March 2017.

Wiltshire councillor Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This way of working fits with our aim to have inclusive communities where everyone can reach their potential.

“We worked with all the schools to support them in developing the right provision to meet the needs of individual pupils.

“We continue to make sure staff, schools, pupils and their families are kept updated and supported throughout the process and Wiltshire Council will continue to monitor the service to ensure high standards of education for these pupils.”