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Excluded children in a third of areas are stuck on waiting lists for specialist provision, as exclusions appear to be rising faster than councils can keep up withour Schools Week investigation shows.

Pupil referral units have expanded official capacity to keep up with demand in two in five councils – 25 places on average each, freedom of information request responses from 98 councils show.

But over a third of councils still had waiting lists this summer for PRU places, with an average of 20 children on each list, some receiving no education at all or just online tutoring.

Leaders say an increase in exclusions is leaving their PRU overstretched and unable to provide the tailored support needed to meet the needs of their pupils. A sample of council responses appears to back this up.

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