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Changing legal rights for parents

An alarming statistic, highlighting a serious need for action has lead to a fantastic success for the Special Educational Consortium (a part of the National Children’s Bureau) in securing a new legal right for parents.  It is recognised that 72% of all ‘exclusions’ from primary schools (where the child is not allowed to attend school, usually because of a serious incident or series of incidents) were children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).  Despite attempts to address this disparity, disabled children and those with SEN continue to be over eight times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than other children.

Julie Jennings, Chair of the consortium, said “all the evidence shows that a key underlying cause of disruptive behaviour is unmet learning needs and our members tell us the same thing. When schools don’t meet children’s special educational needs properly this can lead to behaviour difficulties and then exclusion. This is terribly unfair and more needs to be done to address the underlying causes.”

Coming into effect from September this year, the change to the Education Act 2011 will see the introduction of the legal right for parents to request an SEN expert to advise a review panel if their child is permanently excluded from their school.  This is crucial as it is recognises that the need for exclusion is often linked to a failure of a child to access the education he or she deserves.  It may be this is because the child’s SEN has not been identified, so they are labelled as having behavioural problems when in fact the issue lies further back in the failure of the system to meet their educational needs.

“We’re delighted that the need has been recognised and the amendment to the Education Act has been introduced to reflect this.  If a child is permanently excluded, it is vital that review panels have the expertise to recognise this and advise the school appropriately” said Julie.

It is well documented that children who have been permanently excluded are significantly less likely to achieve good GCSE grades, or be in employment later in life.  Studies have also found it can also increase the probability of the child becoming involved in crime - research from the Prisons Inspector in 2004 revealed that 83% of young men in custody had been previously excluded from school.

This work will make a huge difference to so many children and improve their future prospects.  Thank you for helping NCB to be able to support these parents and children.

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