Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Pupils with SEN are most likely to be excluded from school, new figures reveal

educationChildren with special educational needs (SEN) account for 7 in 10 of all permanent exclusions, according to new figures. In response, a charity has called for more to be done to support them to stay in school.

Figures from the Department of Education showed that in 2013/14 pupils with SEN had the highest rate of permanent exclusion, accounting for 7 in 10 of all permanent exclusions. In addition, pupils with SEN had the highest rate of fixed period exclusion.

Pupils with SEN without statements are also about 10 times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEN. Pupils with SEN with a statement are around 6 times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion.

Those with a statement of SEN are also about 9 times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion than pupils with no statement.

In response to these figures, Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said it was “shocking” that so many children with SEN are missing out on education. “It is clear that more needs to be done to support those with pupils with SEN to stay in school,” she said.

“The process of getting a statement for your child can be a difficult and confusing process for parents to navigate. However, this report highlights the need for a statement, as those students with SEN but without a statement are more likely to be excluded than those with a statement. More support, advice and information is needed for parents to be able to get the statement and support that they need for their child.

“All schools are legally bound to provide quality full-time education to all pupils, including children with autism. As we [Ambitious about Autism] provide education services across the UK, we understand how important it is to get the balance right for both staff and parents. However, routinely asking parents to collect their children early or putting them on long-term, part time timetables without a proper support plan to re-integrate them into school is against the law and fails to address the underlying need for schools to make reasonable adjustments to include children with autism.

“We know exclusions also affect a child’s family life. Having to collect a child puts intolerable pressure on parents and their working lives; it severely impacts their financial situation and often makes work impossible. We know schools that can and do support children with autism to learn, thrive and achieve. All schools need to build their capacity to support children with autism and not use exclusions as a way of managing their special needs.”

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