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Exclusion from school and Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Inclusive education for students with special educational needs (SEN)

Pupils with identified special educational needs (SEN) are disproportionately excluded, both nationally and within our county.

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In Cornwall our vision is for all children and young people with SEN to have an inclusive education which provides opportunities for them to achieve positive outcomes, to realise their aspirations and to participate fully in our wider society.

The successful inclusion of children and young people in local educational settings is well established in Cornwall. This is in keeping with the expectations of the SEND Code of Practice 2015 which states: ‘As part of its commitments under articles 7 and 24 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UK Government is committed to inclusive education of disabled children and young people and the progressive removal of barriers to learning and the participation in mainstream education.’

As well as setting out general duties for public bodies, the Equality Act 2010 states specific duties to not treat pupils with SEN less favourably and to undertake reasonable steps to avoid putting pupils with SEN at a substantial disadvantage. Arrangements in place to meet the needs of pupils with SEN are set out in each school’s SEN Information Report that is updated at least annually and available on school websites.

Cornwall Council and partners across health, schools, education providers and social care, expect staff in all Cornish schools to:-

  • Enable individual pupils to share their views
  • Consider the unmet needs which a pupil may have that could be a factor in presenting behaviours
  • Review regularly, and adjust as appropriate, the additional or different support that could reasonably be put in place for a pupil who presents with difficulties
  • Make every effort not to exclude a pupil, either fixed term or permanently, who has been identified as having SEN and is having their needs met as in the SEND Code of Practice 0 to 25, 2015
  • Call a review meeting, and invite the Statutory SEN Service, if the placement of a pupil with an education, health and care (EHC) plan is deemed to be at risk
  • Not permanently exclude a pupil who has an EHC plan, in other than in the most extreme circumstances, as suitable placement changes can be made via the Statutory SEN Service
  • Not send a pupil home, even if their parents or carers agree, as this amounts to unofficial and therefore unlawful exclusion.

These shared expectations are confirmed in the Department for Education’s 2017 exclusion guidance for schools.

“Good discipline in schools is essential to ensure that all pupils can benefit from the opportunities provided by education. The Government supports head teachers in using exclusion as a sanction where it is warranted. However, permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort, in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy; and where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.

  • The decision to exclude a pupil must be lawful, reasonable and fair. Schools have a statutory duty not to discriminate against pupils on the basis of protected characteristics, such as disability or race. Schools should give particular consideration to the fair treatment of pupils from groups who are vulnerable to exclusion.
  • Disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs. Where a school has concerns about a pupil’s behaviour, it should try to identify whether there are any causal factors and intervene early in order to reduce the need for a subsequent exclusion. In this situation, schools should consider whether a multi-agency assessment that goes beyond the pupil’s educational needs is required.” Page 6

“Early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any SEN or disability that a pupil may have. The head teacher should also consider the use of a multi-agency assessment for a pupil who demonstrates persistent disruptive behaviour. Such assessments may pick up unidentified SEN but the scope of the assessment could go further, for example, by seeking to identify mental health or family problems.” Page 10