The rate of school exclusions, both permanent and fixed term, has fallen over the past decade as successive governments have sought to keep children in education. Samantha Washington goes behind the figures and finds that an apparent success story may be masking systemic failures. Some students are being unofficially and illegally excluded without access to education. The Department of Education has estimated that thousands of excluded students go missing from school rolls. And where alternative provision for excluded pupils is provided, it operates in "a largely uninspected and unregulated sector." (OFSTED, June 2011) The costs are high, not only for the children but for society - many of those who are excluded never get an education, never work and all too often wind up in jail.