Exclusions and special educational needs

The Department for Education (DfE) has published statistical analysis of absences and exclusions for pupils with special educational needs (SEN).

It is no surprise that the statistics show that children with SEN and/or disabilities are more likely to be excluded than their peers.

In 2013/14, 5.17% of pupils with SEN without a Statement received one or more fixed term exclusion compared to 1.08% of pupils with no SEN.

In 2013/14 boys with behavioural, emotional and social difficulty had the highest rate of exclusions – 19.18% had at least one fixed period exclusion.

We have numerous enquiries from parents of children with SEN whose children experience unlawful temporary exclusions or who at risk of permanent exclusion. There are only two types of exclusion that are lawful – permanent and fixed-term. Temporary exclusions, such as a part-time timetable, being asked to pick up children at lunchtimes or being asked to keep their child at home, are unlawful, even if they happen with parents’ consent.

Often there is a lack of understanding that the child may have behavioural problems as a consequence of his/her SEN. Parents say over and over again that they want their child’s needs to be assessed but that the school has told them that their child will not qualify for an EHC needs assessment. Parents will often trust that the school knows best…until the word ‘exclusion’ is brought up.

It is always best to work with the school but if this is not happening, parents can put in their own request for an EHC needs assessment. We can help with that process, either helping to put in a request or appealing against a refusal to assess. Local authorities often apply their own guidelines for when a child should have an EHC needs assessment. This is all well and good but they must also be lawful. We find that this is not always the case.

See our factsheet for what to do when a local authority has refused to carry out an EHC needs assessment.

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