Exclusions… by @ASTSupportAAli

My role is the Director of Inclusion (DOI). I love my job and what I do… I value my team and their commitment to each and every single student. What being a DOI means to me and what I think I do, is explained here in an earlier blog.

I have also written about the fact that I think education is the best therapy that some of our most disadvantaged (<– blog about Pupil Premium students), and vulnerable (<– blog about some difficulties our students face), pupils can receive.

My role coincides with the Deputy Heads role- who is the pastoral lead and in charge of behaviour and safety. He makes the final call on all fixed term exclusions. (FTE.) (This is in accordance to section 579(1) of the Education Act 1996 is under the authority of the Head Teacher.) The procedure in our school is such that any FTE request is discussed with me if the student is a Pupil Premium Student or SEN/D student before it goes to the deputy head.

Now, I am acutely aware/worried and mindful of articles such as…

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and

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In a nutshell illegal exclusions can be summarised into:

  • Asking a parent/carer to pick up their child at an unscheduled time- i.e before the end of a school day
  • Asking a parent/carer to keep their child at home
  • Coercing/forcing  parent/carer to move to another school
  • Sending a student home if their SEN/D teacher/assistant is absent/ill

Here is the full DfE guidance on school exclusions. SEN is mentioned 134 times in the document and Looked After Children 9 times.

Which leads me on to the aim of my blog… As a Director of Inclusion and the SENCO when do I say, no, this/that shouldn’t be an exclusion? I know I am controlled by the DfE guidance/law such as…

DfE Guidance:

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. (Almost exact wording of the 2014 SEN/D code of Practice.)

and

Head teachers and governing bodies must take account of their statutory duties in relation to special educational needs (SEN/D) when administering the exclusion process. This includes having regard to the SEN Code of Practice.

and

Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers.

and

…it would be unlawful to exclude a pupil simply because they have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet…

SO, what does your school do with students? Is there a me in your school who defends/explains/supports these students?

We have a very clear, respect for learning policy… students adhere to this hierarchy of sanctions.

(DfE statistics show that if a student has SEN/D they are 6 times more likely to receive a FTE and if the student has a statement of education they are 9 times more likely…)

However my concern is when a statemented/LAC student is really playing up. Being…

  • Non compliant
  • Defiant
  • Abusive
  • Threatening and so on…

Now, we can ask if needs are being met? If there is an undiagnosed difficulty?

But what happens if the student is…

  • Diagnosed
  • Taught by a specialist SEN teacher with an assistant
  • Part of the school’s behaviour ‘unit’ with smaller classes and more specialists staff
  • Receiving specialist external provision

When this is the case what do I do? I know I have to and want to and will be mindful of other students… but I guess my concerns are, if the young person can not physically control their behaviour then they shouldn’t be excluded. This is where their statement or ECHP comes into play… But, then if they are not accessing any of the provisions being offered and disrupting learning then a call needs to be made…

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I am just thinking out loud. I want the best for all. 

That may mean I anger teachers and may mean/feel to them I am not supporting them, but that only means I am making a call for the young person. Not taking sides.

In order to be a DOI or SENCO you have to be extremely resilient. 

In an ideal world I wouldn’t want any student excluded… but a worrying fact for you…

Do you think exclusions should exist?

Something to consider…

If you are a Black African Caribbean boy with SEN and FSM you are 168 times more likely to be permanently excluded than a White girl with no SEN and from an affluent family.

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Here is a fantastic website by the charity IPSEA which provides questions that parents can ask, it is a useful tool.

 

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