Note: A few figures in this article are approximate because the Local Authorities are not bound to provide data in small number situations, where there is risk of a child being identified.
In 2012, KCC published a policy document proposing strategies and a target to reduce the number of permanently excluded children in Kent to 50 by 2015, keeping the same proportion of children with SEN statements excluded. With the figure of 250 permanent exclusions the previous year having now fallen by two thirds, the overall target may yet be achieved on time, although the SEN target is way off course. Although the policy has now been removed from the KCC website you will find my comments here describing how the strategies followed my raising of the issues.
Government has changed the statutory guidance on exclusion since then removing the ability to appeal to an Independent Panel against permanent exclusion. Instead, families can ask for an Independent Panel Review of the process, which only has the ability to request reinstatement of the excluded child rather than order it, as was the case before, if they believe the decision to exclude is wrong. This leaves the school governing body able to reject the recommendation of the Review Body and uphold the exclusion. I had wrongly anticipated this would lead to a rise in the number of permanent exclusions, but this does not appear to be the case in Kent at least.
Special Education Needs
In Kent there are still 25 statemented children excluded out of the total of 87, far too high a proportion when there is still Statutory Guidance in place stating that “Head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding permanently any pupil with an EHC Plan (previously a statement of SEN)”.
In my previous article I wrote about the Kent data: “since I highlighted the issue the number of statemented children has fallen sharply in 2010/11, to 21, but is still far too high and well above the national average”. Sadly, this number has now risen again to 25, whilst in total 61 of the 87 permanently excluded children were statemented, or on School Action Plus or School Action for their SEN needs.
The fact that at least 19 of the Kent statemented children are amongst the 26 primary school pupils excluded suggests it may simply be that some primary schools could not cope with behaviour such as that displayed by an autistic child who may be incapable of meeting the norms of the school without further support. It is possible this was not forthcoming as budgets are reduced and funding of SEN has changed. In fact, whilst the 48 primary exclusions of 2011-12 have decreased in number, the total of statemented children excluded has stayed the same, the percentage rising from 40% to 69%, an alarming proportion. My previous article highlighted the fact that an earlier figure of 29% of permanent exclusions were of statemented children was deemed unacceptable by Paul Carter, Leader of KCC.
No more than three children were excluded from Special Schools.
The important development of additional places in Units catering for children with autism and the essential facility for youngsters with high level autism at Broomhill Bank North opening in September has never been more important in order to offer such children an appropriate environment with the right expertise to manage them and, whilst I do not have separate figures for exclusions from Units, the number removed from Special Schools remains very low indeed.
The number of children with Statements permanently excluded from Medway schools, is no more than four, although all 9 of the primary school children are either with School Action or School Action Plus on the SEN Register.
So once again, Kent and Medway have very different patterns, Kent excluding a considerable number of statemented primary school pupils, Medway none, also suggesting very different policies operated by the Authorities.
Affected parents may find a Guide to Exclusions focusing on children with SEN, published by the Kent Parent Partnership Service, very helpful.
You will find the following very sad comment at the foot of this article. What I do not know is how credible the comment is, or the age of the child but, in any case, sadly I don't think it is an exceptional situation, but it is certainly a cry for help!
|My child has been permanently excluded from mainstream secondary school academy and has ASD and a statement of SEN,since getting a statement to help him,the school say they can't support his needs and needs a special school ,or he would be permanently excluded, which now the case,been left with no education since January, and have been told KCC do not provide home tuition|
I would certainly recommend one of the excellent Special Schools in Kent as a way forward on the limited information provided, but KCC does have a responsibility to find the child a suitable school to continue his education.
Elective Home Education
Although I have no hard evidence to prove the case, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a number of home educated children have been ‘encouraged’ out of schools because of their low academic performance, absence levels or SEN behavioural issues to remove them from government league tables or OFSTED Inspections. They are reportedly being advised to leave ‘voluntarily’ rather than be excluded and this is likely to contribute to the fall in permanent exclusions in Kent, although only adds to the worrying data in Medway.
I will explore this issue further in a later article, which will be about Elective Home Education.