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schools criticised for “illegally” excluding disabled and SEN pupils

20 February 2013

A survey, commissioned by Contact a Family, of 400 parents with children with disabilities or special educational needs has found that 22% of such children are “illegally” excluded once a week and 15% every day. This research suggests that there is still confusion amongst some schools about the exclusion rules.

The current statutory guidance on exclusions states that the use of informal exclusions, such as sending a pupil home “to cool off”, is unlawful even when parents agree to the action. All exclusions, even for short periods, must be formally recorded.

Arguably, this rigid approach removes the headteacher’s discretion to address behavioural issues without the child receiving the stigma of a formal exclusion. However, with both the Department for Education and the Children’s Commissioner keen to crack down on such practice, schools are likely to face legal challenges and criticism from Ofsted if they do not follow proper exclusion procedures.

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