According to the latest statistics released by the Department for Education (“DfE”), children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (“SEND”) are more than four times more likely to be excluded from education than their peers. These statistics cover both temporary, or Fixed Term Exclusions (“FTEs”) and permanent exclusions (“PExs”). This blog will focuse on the former.
The definition of an FTE is any period of time when a child is temporarily removed from school. This includes where a school asks a parent to collect a child early/bring them in late or tells them they cannot participate in an off-site excursion. In all cases the exclusion must be recorded in writing with the reason (which must be related to a breach of the school’s behaviour policy) clearly stated. Whilst an exclusion can be effective immediately, parents cannot be required to collect a child before the end of the school day. A child can only receive a maximum of 45 FTEs in any academic year (and this does not change if they move schools during the year). For the first 5 days of an exclusion the school should continue to set and mark work for the excluded child. Where any exclusion lasts longer than 5 school days, the school is required to arrange suitable full-time education from the sixth school day, for example at a Pupil Referral Unit (“PRU”).
It is possible to challenge an FTE in limited circumstances, namely where the exclusion is for more than 5 days or where the period of the exclusion means that the child will miss a public examination (e.g. GCSE) or national curriculum test (e.g. SATS). In those cases, the school’s governing body has the power to overturn the exclusion. In all other cases, however, there is no such power, although representations can still be made. It is also open to parents to make a discrimination claim if it is felt that the exclusion related to a child’s protected characteristic (including race, sex and disability) and/or to pursue a complaint under the school’s internal complaints procedure.
If you are concerned about an exclusion SEND Advocacy can provide advice and support including making representations on your child's behalf before the Governors and/or pursuing a Disability Discrimination claim. If you need someone in your corner to help you secure the education your child or young person deserves, contact us today.