Pupil Exclusions: Special Educational Needs

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th June 2019.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of exclusions among pupils with special educational needs.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Schools have a legal duty under the Equality Act (2010) not to discriminate against disabled pupils by excluding them from school because of their disability. Any exclusion must be lawful, reasonable and fair, but within these requirements, schools need to be able to set and enforce behaviour policies that reflect their ethos and the specific challenges they face.

The law does not prevent a pupil with special educational needs (SEN) or a disability from being excluded. Schools are required to record and return information on all exclusions which includes, if applicable, the SEN of the pupil. The Department will continue to support headteachers in creating safe and orderly environments that enable teachers to teach and pupils to learn.

Schools can only exclude pupils, either permanently or for a fixed period, for disciplinary reasons and the Department supports schools in using exclusion where this is warranted. 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 Timpson Review of school exclusion considered how schools use exclusion and how this impacts on all pupils, particularly why some groups of children are more likely to be excluded from school. The review and the Government response can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/school-exclusions-review-call-for-evidence.

The Government welcomes the review and agrees with all 30 recommendations in principle. The Government is committed to supporting schools and their partners and will be taking forward an ambitious response which respects headteachers’ powers to use exclusion, whilst equipping schools to support children at risk of exclusion.

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