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(UK) Bristol: 26 local schools failing SPED students; attempting to avoid disabled

Dec 23, 2021, BBC: SEND pupils 'batted away' by Bristol schools, council told https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-59766212

SW England

Education bosses have united with a special needs campaigner in Bristol to target up to 26 schools they claim are "batting away" struggling pupils. Schools have a duty to meet the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). But campaigner Jen Smith said some schools did not want children with learning difficulties or learning disabilities in their classrooms. They were "deliberately failing to meet their legal obligations", she said. Bristol council's cabinet member for education, deputy mayor Asher Craig, has told schools they must change their behaviour, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. … Bristol City Council said it hoped its Belonging Strategy and Education Transformation Programme would help to tackle the problem.

Ms Smith, whose son has Asperger's and whose daughter is autistic and also has dyslexia, told the commission it was "high time" the council took a legal stand against "education blockers". "School leaders are clearly not being held to account for continued failings around SEND provision and the implementation of EHCPs [education, health and care plans]," she said in a written statement to the commission. "What is the actual point of spending a year going through the EHCP process to end up with a legal document that no-one will enforce?" A lack of accountability among school leaders was one of the "significant weaknesses" found by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in a damning report of Bristol's SEND system in 2019. According to Ms Smith, the council told her that it had "limited powers" against schools that failed to provide the education support set out in a child's EHCP….