(UK) Courts to decide if schools have the right to exclude special needs kids over behavior

July 2, 2018, Tes: Test case on the exclusion of SEND pupils Schools’ right to exclude pupils over behaviour linked to their disability is facing a legal challenge on discrimination grounds. If successful the test case, due to be heard this week, could have major implications for school exclusion policies. Figures show that children with special educational needs are disproportionately excluded from mainstream education. The case has been brought by the Derbyshire family of a thirteen year old boy with autism, child ‘L’, who was excluded from school due to behaviour linked to his autism, and is being opposed by the Department for Education. Lawyers say the parents, are seeking to overturn a rule that allows children to lose protection from discrimination under equality laws because their challenging behaviour is said to be ‘a tendency to physically abuse’, even if this is a direct result of the child’s condition. This means children like L are not treated as ‘disabled’ in relation to physically aggressive behaviour…. The parents, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘We believe passionately that our son and other children in his position should have equal rights to be able to go to school and receive the support they need to achieve the best possible outcomes…. She said: “This appeal is about the fundamental right of access to education for disabled children whose conditions, like autism, result in behaviours which can be physically aggressive…. More than 1 in 100 children are on the autism spectrum in the UK. Government statistics show that children on the autism spectrum in England are three times more likely to be excluded than children without special educational needs…. “Currently, the Equality Act means that schools must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students get the right support. However, due to a legal loophole, schools can exclude pupils who have a ‘tendency to physical abuse’ – even in a situation where a school hasn't made reasonable adjustments for their disability or impairment.