My child has been excluded
There are some worrying statistics about children and young people with SEN and exclusions.
Children and young people with SEND are far more likely to be excluded from school than their peers.
- Pupils with SEN and EHCPs are 2.5 times more likely to have permanent exclusions and 4.3 times more likely to have fixed term exclusions than those without SEN
- Pupils with SEN and no EHCPs are 5 times more likely to have permanent exclusions and 4.2 times more likely to have fixed term exclusions
Why is this happening?
There are a variety of reasons why this is happening.
- Many types of SEND manifest in behaviour that is seen as an issue, e.g. attention problems, meltdowns, social communication difficulties meaning lack of understanding of boundaries, organisation problems.
- Failure to recognise SEN or give support may exacerbate problems
- Rigid discipline policies
- Failure by placements to understand disability discrimination laws and duty to make reasonable adjustments
- Excluding a child, lawfully or unlawfully, may be much easier than meeting his needs
- Lack of understanding and experience of particular types of SEN
- Unsuitable environment
What happens if you child has been excluded?
You may have found that your child has been “excluded” from school, and you have been informed by the school. It can be extremely upsetting, particularly if your child’s special educational needs means he or she may struggle to be in control of their behaviours and actions at school.
Types of exclusion
There are only two types of exclusion from a school which are lawful: permanent and fixed-period. You may also hear the term ‘internal’ exclusion. This decision must come in writing from the Head of any school.
From a legal perspective, there are two scenarios:
- a child is in school full time, or
- they are excluded from school.
If this is a fixed term exclusion, you will be given the timescale which applies in your child’s case. Typically this will be for a number of days, which must be specified in the decision letter, together with the reasons why the exclusion is taking place. A permanent exclusion is a more serious matter, but either way, any exclusion must be formally and accurately recorded.
Exclusions apply to disciplinary matters only, or where it is deemed necessary for the safety of others. A school, which includes pupil referral unit (PRU), or academy, cannot exclude a child if they cannot meet their needs or for something which parents did or did not do.
‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending a pupil with SEND home to cool off or the school putting a pupil on a ‘part-time timetable’, are all unlawful regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers.
See what steps the school has to take in order for the exclusion to be lawful. Too many children and young people with SEN and disabilities are excluded illegally.
Unlawful exclusion of a pupil with a disability may amount to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
Most of the content in this section relates only to pupils at maintained schools, academies or pupil referral units.