The Department for Education has released the latest figures for the 2015/16 period for exclusion from schools. The number of both fixed-term and permanent exclusions have increased in comparison with last year’s figures. Pupils with SEN account for over half of all fixed term and permanent exclusions and are 7 times more likely to receive a fixed term or permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEN. Pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or with a statement of SEN had the highest fixed period exclusion rate and were almost 6 times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion than pupils with no SEN. A full breakdown of the figures can be found here.
There are only two types of exclusion which are lawful: permanent and fixed-period. Only the head teacher of a school (or the teacher in charge of a pupil referral unit or the principal of an academy) can exclude a pupil.
This means that legally a child is either in school full-time or they are excluded from school. Legally they can be excluded for a fixed term (for a specific number of school days) or permanently excluded (unable to return to that school unless the parent or young person can overturn the exclusion on appeal).
What the latest figures on exclusion do not reveal is the number of children who are subjected to unlawful exclusions. ‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home to cool off, are all unlawful regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Too many children and young people with SEN and disabilities are excluded illegally. This can occur when parents are asked to take or keep them at home from school without proper notification that it is an exclusion. This commonly includes picking them up from school early, at lunchtime, not coming in on certain days, or only being in school on a part-time timetable.
Any exclusion of a pupil, even for a short period of time, must be formally recorded.
More information about exclusions, your child’s rights and what you can do if your child is excluded can be found here.
Our Tribunal Helpline Gives next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.