A pressure group of over 240 organisations and individuals is pushing for amendments to the Education and Inspections Bill in a bid to reduce the high number of pupils with special educational needs being excluded from mainstream schools.
The Special Educational Consortium – a group of charities, local government and professional organisations currently liaising with the committee of MPs charged with scrutinising the bill – claims that pupils with autism are around 10 times more likely than the average pupil to be given a fixed-term exclusion. Data from the annual school census shows that two-thirds of exclusions are of pupils with SEN.
The consortium blames the disproportionately high figures on a lack of support for both pupils with SEN and their teachers, warning that “any unrecognised learning need can lead to behavioural difficulties that may lead to an exclusion”.
It has drafted amendments to the bill around concerns that disabled children and children with SEN are being disciplined rather than being catered for through “reasonable adjustments” to schools’ working practices.
“It is devastating for children who need special arrangements to be excluded,” said SEC policy officer Philippa Stobbs. “We are asking that existing guidance to make reasonable adjustments – which could mean anything from changing where a child sits to planning an appropriate curriculum – are upheld by all schools.
“We are hopeful the changes will be implemented as they are in any case already recommended by government guidance.”