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School Exclusions and Children with Special Educational Needs

By Solicitor, Court of Protection

Too many children with additional learning needs are being excluded from school, according to a review of Special Educational Needs provision in Reading.

In addressing a committee on Health and Wellbeing in the town, Reading Borough Council Inclusion Services Manager Chris Stevens expressed how important it was for children who need extra educational support to be included in school and helped to fulfil their potential.

Senior Councillors in Reading have welcomed the report and said that they will work with the health service to ensure that the needs of such children are met.

Collaborative working between local authorities and health professionals is a requirement of the new Education, Health and Care Plans which aim to provide holistic, person-centred plans, taking into account a child’s educational, health and social care needs. The new EHC plans were introduced in September 2014 and their success is still being monitored.

Such collaborative working can, if carried out effectively, really help children and young people to reach their potential when the professional bodies involved with them are all working to a common goal.

However, it is important that the need for such joint working is reinforced throughout a child’s life and proper support provided to children so that the risk of them being excluded in the first place is minimised and, that if they are excluded, real thought is given as to the cause of the exclusion and how the same could have been minimised, taking into account any additional needs a child has.

We must welcome the actions of local authorities who raise these issues and seek to address them and we must keep in mind that children with additional needs require additional support so that they can progress in line with their peers.

School Exclusions

Pupils with special educational needs are almost seven times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than other pupils, according to Department for Education research. The study also found that they were nine times more likely to receive a fixed-period exclusion.

If a child with additional learning needs is excluded, can the school honestly say that they did everything they could to fully understand a child’s particular educational requirements to help them to improve their behaviour and reach their full potential? If used properly, the Education, Health and Care plans could certainly be a vital tool in ensuring schools and health care professionals work together to provide children not only with the extra learning support they require throughout their childhood and into their adult life, but also appropriate health and social care.

The risks of such children being excluded from school continue and it is essential that preventative measures are taken to ensure that children’s’ needs are adequately assessed and understood and appropriate support put in place to ensure they reach the best possible educational outcomes.

Liz Perry is an Educational Rights Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

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