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Special Educational Needs: Pupil Exclusions

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he expects to publish the findings of his research into local authority practice on exclusions for children with special educational needs. (286870)

The Department is working with the National Strategies and local authorities to identify good practice among authorities with low rates of exclusion of children with SEN.

With National Strategies, the Department has conducted a series of visits to local authorities designed to identify the factors behind why some authorities are able to maintain low rates of SEN exclusions, while others have higher rates.

National Strategies will publish the outcomes of these visits in autumn 2009.

The Department has asked the National Strategies to support and challenge the highest excluding authorities (including authorities where SEN exclusions are disproportionately high) to reduce the need for exclusion, and to spread good practice from the lower excluding authorities from summer term 2009. The findings from the visits will inform this work.

Findings from the visits will also feedback in Ofsted SEN survey 2009-10 that will focus on the Every Child Matters outcomes achieved by children with special educational needs and disabled children.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he next expects to revise his Department's guidance to schools on pupil exclusions; and what his policy is on holding a case review before children with a special educational need or disability is excluded. (286871)

Existing exclusions guidance already contains strong messages on special educational needs (SEN) exclusion issues. The existing version of this guidance, last revised in September 2008, states that schools should try every practicable means to maintain a pupil with SEN in school, seeking local authority and other professional advice as appropriate. It goes on to state that this might include seeking local authority and other professional advice at “School Action Plus”, or where appropriate, asking a local authority to consider carrying out a statutory assessment.

In addition, the guidance sets an expectation that, following a permanent exclusion, the head teacher should use the period between his or her initial decision and the meeting of the governing body to review the exclusion and to work with the local authority to see whether more support can be made available or whether the statement can be changed to name a new school. If either of these options is possible, the head teacher should normally withdraw the exclusion.

We will also be reinforcing the focus of behaviour and attendance partnerships on a range of outcomes, including the need to reduce disproportionately high exclusions of pupils with SEN in a new guidance due to be published later this year.