Education bosses have today defended the decision to allow a television documentary to be filmed in a Lynn school, insisting it illustrates a growing educational crisis.
Excluded at Seven, which was broadcast on Channel Four last night, featured pupils and staff at the Rosebery School, which offers short-term provision for children who have been excluded from mainstream schools.
Although widely praised on social media, some accused the programme of exploiting vulnerable youngsters.
But Des Reynolds, chief executive of the Engage trust, which runs the school, said he was pleased with the programme and would consider a future project.
He said: “The purpose was to show the children as children. They’re not monsters. They’re not chavs or any of those other horrible terms.
“They’re children and they need to be loved and cared for. I think that’s what it showed really well.”
The documentary followed recent figures showing more than 1,000 state-funded primary school pupils in England, and over 25,000 secondary students were permanently excluded from schools during the 2015-16 academic year.
In Norfolk, 60 primary pupils were expelled, the third highest figure for any education authority in England, along with 186 secondary pupils.
As well as the Rosebery, the Engage trust runs eight other similar facilities across Norfolk.
And Mr Reynolds said that, for all the children they are able to support, there are many others who are waiting and in need of a place.
He said: “When I started this job seven or eight years ago, we didn’t have classes for children of primary age because they weren’t excluded.
“We now have four across the county. It’s a massive challenge.
“As a county, and a country, we have a massive issue with the fact we have created an education system that does not meet the needs of a significant proportion of the children.”
The programme attracted thousands of Twitter postings, of which Mr Reynolds estimated around three-quarters were supportive.
He also revealed the trust had held several months of talks with the production company which made the programme and turned down three other groups who had wanted to make a programme, because of exploitation fears.
He added that the filmmakers had worked closely with the featured youngsters and their families, all of whom had seen the programme before it was transmitted.