IT is one of education's eternal dilemmas: what can you do with the most badly behaved children? The answer has been the same for generations. Throw them out of school.

Once called expulsion, now known as exclusion, the policy is a last resort, but a crucial one. Any child caught committing the most serious transgressions has to face the ultimate penalty.

Exclusion is also reserved for a pupil whose repeated misbehaviour is not curbed by any other sanctions. When teachers are spending all their time dealing with one disruptive child, to the detriment of the 29 well behaved students in the class, that child must go.

But while exclusion solves the school's problem, it causes one for the local education authority. Where should the excluded pupil go now? The answer has been to transfer them to another school, only to see them disrupt another set of classmates.

Now City of York Council is looking to take a new approach. It is bidding for £2.4 million of Government cash for a centre to train excluded and truanting children.

They would be taught in a disciplined environment by teachers experienced in working with emotionally difficult children.

As well as the normal curriculum, they would be offered more vocational courses, such as building and car maintenance. For many troublesome children, this might make education appear relevant to them for the first time. It also provides an opportunity to stop a potential slide towards criminality, and turn their lives around.

At a time when so much of York is being turned into flats, it is good to see that this plan would see the former Fulford Cross retained as a school.

We hope Government ministers recognise the value of this plan and stump up the cash.

Updated: 12:12 Monday, October 20, 2003