(UK) Cheshire: Expelling special needs students "very much persists in Cheshire’s schools"

Aug 22, 2020, CheshireLive: Figures show vulnerable children in Cheshire more likely to be expelled or suspended from school NW England The most vulnerable kids in Cheshire continue to be targeted by school exclusions, two years on from a damning report on the “scandal” of these “forgotten children”. In 2018, a report from the House of Commons’ Education Committee found that an increasing number of children were being unnecessarily excluded from school, and abandoned with an inadequate education. In particular, the report highlighted that children who were already the most vulnerable - such as children with special educational needs (SEN) and those living in poverty - were the most likely to be excluded. Now, two years after these findings came to light, an investigation into the latest government figures reveal that the problem still very much persists in Cheshire’s schools. In particular, our research found that within mainstream secondary schools in our area: • Children with SEN are nearly six times more likely to be expelled and more than three times more likely to be suspended than other children … • Boys are more than twice as likely to be expelled and twice as likely to be suspended as girls … Avis Gilmore, deputy general secretary of the NEU, said: "It is obvious to anyone working in classrooms that children on free school meals and those with SEND need every support we can give them. “That Government has been failing both for so very long should be a point of shame…. The government say they are increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year, to help schools support children and young people with the most complex SEN. A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Our statutory guidance is clear that headteachers should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding any pupil with an education, health and care plan and take action to address the underlying causes of disruptive behaviour, including assessing whether the right measures are in place to support any special educational need or disability (SEND) a pupil may have. “Our SEND Review is actively considering how we can identify and support children and young people earlier before issues escalate.” Overall exclusions Special education needs Across all mainstream, state funded secondaries in Cheshire, 56 children with some form of SEN provision were permanently excluded in 2018/19 - 0.78% of all pupils. That's nearly six times higher than the rate for non-SEN pupils, with 76 permanently excluded the same year - just 0.13% of all students. Some 10.9% of SEN pupils were also excluded for a fixed period at least once in the last academic year (789 in total), more than three times the 3.0% of non-SEN students who were suspended (1,723). ….