The Education Secretary has said he would not rule out legislation to ensure more accountability for schools that permanently exclude children.

Damian Hinds also vowed to take action on exclusions following the conclusion of the Edward Timpson view.

In spring the Government launched an externally-led review by the former Children's Minister, to look at how exclusions are used and why certain groups are disproportionately affected.

Ahead of a roundtable on alternative provision at the Centre for Social Justice on Wednesday, Mr Hinds pledged to create an equality of ambition between mainstream schools and alternative provision.

James Frith challenges Theresa May over rising school exclusion figures

But he will make clear schools will still reserve the right to exclude as a last resort, saying where they are, the quality of education students receive should be no different than in mainstream settings.

Ahead of the roundtable, Mr Hinds said: "Permanently excluding a child from mainstream school should only ever be a last resort.

"We support teachers in making these difficult decisions where they are justified, as poor behaviour does have an impact on other children in the class.

"We have an ongoing externally-led review of school exclusions but I want to be clear that holding schools to account for the pupils they place in alternative provision and permanently exclude is not off the table.

"But being excluded should never be at the cost of a child's education. No matter the obstacles they may face or the backgrounds they're from, we want our young people to receive an education that fosters ambition and a confidence in their abilities."

Mr Hinds also said alternative provision should have high quality teaching and education so parents can feel reassured and positive about their child's future.

"Alternative provision can offer a lifeline to these children and their parents, such as smaller classes and more tailored support from teachers, helping them to flourish," he said.

The Education Secretary has also responded to a report from the education select committee on alternative provision and exclusions, highlighting the Government's work underway to improve standards.