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Pupils with Special Educational Needs ten times more likely to be excluded

View profile for Ed Duff
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The Welsh Government recently published data concerning permanent fixed term exclusions from schools for the period 2015 to 2016. 

 

This data indicates that children and young people with Special Educational Needs in Wales are at significantly greater risk of facing exclusion if they have Special Educational Needs.

 

This publication from the Welsh Government comes three months after the Department for Education in England released the exclusion statistics for pupils in England.  We previously wrote about those rates here.

 

In England, children and young people with Special Educational Needs do also have an enhanced risk of facing exclusion. 

 

By way of comparison, in England, pupils with Special Educational Needs amount for almost half of all permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions.  Further, children and young people who are in receipt of SEN additional support had the highest permanent exclusion rate and were almost seven times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than pupils without Special Educational Needs.  Pupils with either a Statement of Special Educational Needs, or an Education Health and Care Plan, were approximately six times more likely to face a fixed period exclusion.

 

Whilst the data from England was concerning, this new statistical release from the Welsh Government is even more troubling.

 

To clarify the data, in Wales Statements of Special Educational Needs are still used.  The law that introduced Education Health and Care Plans did not take effect in Wales.

 

This most recent statistical release from the Welsh Government indicates that children and young people with no Special Educational Needs had a rate of exclusions of 0.4 per 1,000 pupils.  Pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs had a rate of exclusion of 5.5 per 1,000 pupils.  Pupils in receipt of School Action Plus had the highest rate of exclusions at 7.5, Learning and Supported at School Action faced a rate of exclusion of 2.5 per 1,000 pupils.

 

What this means is that all pupils with Special Educational Needs are approximately twelve times more likely to face an exclusion than a pupil without Special Educational Needs. 

 

A pupil in Wales with a Statement of Special Educational Needs is approximately fourteen times more likely to face an exclusion.  A pupil on School Action Plus is nearly twenty times more likely to face an exclusion than a pupil with no Special Educational Needs.  And a pupil at School Action is approximately six times more likely to face an exclusion than a pupil with no Special Educational Needs.

 

The data from the Welsh Government regarding exclusions of pupils with Special Educational Needs does suggest that there is a general trend downwards.  This is reassuring.  However, the significant discrepancy between pupils with Special Educational Needs and those without Special Educational Needs is concerning. 

 

Of particular concern is the significantly higher rate of exclusion for pupils at School Action Plus.

 

School Action Plus is used as the highest form of Special Educational Needs support in schools before a Statement of Special Educational Needs is used.  Typically, a school will support a young person at School Action Plus when internal resources are not sufficient to cater for their Special Educational Needs and the advice of external agencies is required. 

 

If a pupil is supported at School Action Plus, what this typically means is that their Special Educational Needs are complex and very challenging to such an extent that a mainstream school simply cannot cater for their needs without additional external support.  Given that pupils should be receiving external support, and that support should be subject to a review and on-going modification by specialists, it is very concerning that pupils at this level of support are at such incredibly enhanced risk of exclusion.

 

It would also seem to suggest that a high number of the pupils currently at School Action Plus may require the additional support of a Statement of Special Educational Needs.  The incidence rate of exclusions for pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs is 5.5 per 1,000 whereas School Action Plus pupils is 7.5 per 1,000.  This means that two pupils in every 1,000 at School Action Plus will be excluded whereas their peers with a Statement of Special Educational Needs would not.  It would seem highly likely that those pupils who are at enhanced risk of exclusion at School Action Plus should also be in receipt of a Statement of Special Educational Needs. The data does beg the question whether or not pupils with Special Educational Needs are being properly supported in School Action Plus or whether they require a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

 

It is of particular concern that pupils with Special Educational Needs face such an enhanced risk of exclusion. 

 

When a pupil receives an exclusion, be it fixed term or permanent, it is likely to have a very significant and detrimental impact on their ability to engage in education and their future prospects.  In particular, a permanent exclusion can cause difficulties with finding alternative education.  In the immediate period following an exclusion, a pupil can face serious difficulties receiving any interim education.  Clearly, if a pupil has Special Educational Needs, these difficulties are only going to be compounded by their Special Educational Needs.

 

Further, pupils who have been permanently excluded can face significant difficulties when re-integrating back into education.  If those pupils also have Special Educational Needs, this is going to be an even more difficult process. 

 

It is reassuring to see that the rate of exclusion for pupils with Special Educational Needs is slowly declining, however, it is still very significant just how at risk a pupil with Special Educational Needs is.  The data would suggest that there is a valid concern that pupils supported at School Action Plus, rather than with a Statement of Special Educational Needs, have not had their needs properly identified or the support they require delivered.

 

If you are experiencing difficulties in relation to exclusion, Special Educational Needs or otherwise then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist education solicitors on 02920 291704.

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