The rise in use of exclusions is a continuing hot topic at the moment, thanks in part to TES coverage on “a national scandal that should worry all of us.”
According to former headteacher, Colin Harris, insufficient resources have given schools little choice but to exclude pupils, while Warwick Mansell claims pupils are being “managed out” to allow schools to concentrate on high attaining students, at the expense of those with SEND, in particular children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health problems.
The most worrying statistic is the fact that SEND learners are 7x more likely than their fellow pupils to be excluded from school, and that this trend is long standing, as reported by DYT’s Nancy Gedge in a feature on the same issue in October 2015.
But the exclusion of SEND children from education extends into informal practices that impact on families every day. Over 400 families of SEND children in England and Wales responded to Contact a Family’s Falling Through The Net survey to show that:
In April, we responded to the government’s consultation on Statutory Guidance for exclusions.
You can read our full response here: DYT response to Exclusions consultation
In brief, DYT believes it not acceptable that:
Difficulties with behaviour are often caused by underlying conditions, including poor mental health, underlying disabilities, and problems outside of school, and there is a particularly strong link between children identified as having behavioural difficulties and children who have unidentified speech, language and communication difficulties.
The government must do more to reduce the number of children with SEND who are excluded, and to ensure that professionals fully understand the implications of decisions to exclude young people by using part time timetables and restricting access to peers, play times and school trips. Where a decision has been taken to exclude a child with SEND, we believe proper consideration must be made of whether unmet or unidentified special educational needs or a failure to make reasonable adjustments was a factor in this outcome.
DYT consultant teacher Nancy Gedge said on the matter:
“If we’re not very careful, we will recreate a system that serves only some children and fails the rest. Inclusion will be a missed opportunity. By concentrating resources on breaking the glass ceiling, we are reinforcing the glass floor – the invisible barrier that prevents vulnerable children from accessing the education on offer. is that really what we want?
If children on the edges of the mainstream are not forgotten and responsibility is shared, then we stand a chance of creating a better future – a truly inclusive one, in which children who have SEND are helped, not shown the door.”