The Surrey Exclusion Zone and SEN

The Surrey Exclusion Zone and SEN

Are you a parent of a child or young person with special educational needs (SEN) facing exclusion, or, subject to suspension?

If so you fall into the significant, but increasing minority facing an increase in exclusion/suspension numbers.

Statistics for the 2018/19 period within Surrey County Council secondary mainstream settings confirm children with SEN are x5 more likely to be expelled and x3 more likely to be suspended, with boys being more affected than girls.

In total 21 children were permanently excluded, with 740 excluded or suspended for a fixed term. Within the primary school sector 8 children faced exclusion, with 402 exclusions/suspensions.

Parents need to be aware that the history of suspensions and exclusions remains on your child’s educational records.

Permanent exclusion can impact on your child’s or young persons future educational prospects.

Whilst within compulsory school age, your local authority (LA) will have to make arrangements to continue to deliver education. The reality is often a placement within a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). Where your child has an EHCP the LA must firstly consult with parents. Often children can find themselves with no school leaving them at best home schooled via education otherwise than at school (EOTAS) within Section F of any EHCP arguably leaving them vulnerable to social exclusion.

Moving to a new school may prove a challenge. A thorough transition plan should be put in place to ensure success.

If excluded more than twice within a two year period a potential new school can refuse placement, or, refuse your child on the basis of their challenging behaviour

It is well established that the very nature of some childrens’ SEN pose challenging behaviours. Equality Act legislation ensures that your child should not be discriminated against, although equally there has to be balance of needs of the individual against the remainder of the year group interests.

Some schools utilise the process of exclusion to “off-roll” those children which may impact upon their results.

There are established pathways to challenge and appeal decisions to exclude. A managed transfer rather than an exclusion often serves to avoid adverse records attaching to your child’s educational records.

For parents of a child with SEN the advice is to seek support and assistance before the situation deteriorates to such a level that suspensions are in force and positions become entrenched.

The first step is to seek a clear picture of your child’s special educational needs

It is unlawful to exclude a child because the school says it cannot meet the child’s SEN.

Contact the senior management team and SENCO at your school to explore options and gain access to the additional funding available for students with SEN. Look at your “Local Offer” on your LA’s website to understand additional support available in your area.

Can your school trigger assessments by trained professionals such as an educational psychologist, a speech & language or occupational therapist?

Draw up an individual educational plan (IEP) setting out the support required, be it a dedicated trained TA, small group sessions, “time out” for sensory breaks and any therapy needs.

Review the SEND Code of Practice to fully understand the standards expected from your school and LA.

Where it is apparent that despite the best endeavors of the school to meet your child’s needs, and progress or improvement is not evident, consider a request for an EHC needs assessment in order to gain better understanding of your child’s needs and to access extra funding.

This should be by way of parental request with potential support from the school and the SENCO, although sometimes this will not be forthcoming. The right to appeal the LA decision to not conduct an EHC needs assessment, issue a Plan or not to amend a current EHCP rests with parents not the school.

The Plan if sanctioned will serve to identify needs and should set out in specified and quantified terms the provision to meet those needs. The Plan is funded by and enforceable against the LA not the school.

Where you already have an EHCP and despite provision the situation has failed to improve, parents should seek an emergency interim review meeting of the LA and school or request an early Annual Review to examine and amend provision to reflect changing needs.

At this stage it may also be worth considering whether in fact the school placement can meet your child’s needs in any event. For example, often a busy large setting is too much of a sensory overload for many children, particularly those with ASD. Parents have rights for their preferred school to be named on an EHCP, subject to certain criteria.

A recent parliamentary question has been raised concerning the impact of prolonged absence from school due to the Covid pandemic, triggering adverse behaviours upon return. Recommendations extended to an updating of school behaviour policies, that head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding any pupil with an EHCP and that school leaders ”be mindful that any disruptive behaviour might be the result of pupils’ unmet educational needs or other needs and should consider whether a multiagency assessment is necessary.”

The advice is to seek support and guidance at the earliest stage.

We offer full SEN and EHCP support although we do not conduct exclusion appeals on behalf of parents.

I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved. 

James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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