(UK) English schools suspend SPED students with unmet needs

Dec 5, 2020, Eastern Daily Press: Children as young as six 'written off' as school exclusions soar Schools are being accused of "writing off" children to boost their exam results, after the number of temporary exclusions doubled in a few years. Children under six are among thousands being banned from school - with experts saying the move to academies had made education "a driven business". Temporary exclusions in Norfolk’s primary and secondary schools are now at a record high, with numbers more than doubling in the last six years. Last year, a record 7,499 temporary exclusions were handed out, and of those, 2,875 were for persistent disruption. Mike Smith-Clare, Labour lead for children and young people on Norfolk County Council, said: “The rise in fixed term exclusions is a desperately worrying trend. For any child to be written off is a tragedy…. Fears are now growing that children with special education needs (SEN) are being disproportionately affected, and questions are being asked about the impact exclusion policy can have on young children and their families. Last year, 1,969 children were excluded from primary schools in Norfolk, more than double the number in 2012/13. Figures show 219 of those were children aged six or under. In Suffolk, the figure was 1,820 last year, almost triple the number in 2012/13. There, 190 children aged six or under were excluded. … Another mother, who asked not to be named, said her nine-year-old son had been excluded multiple times every year since year one. At the end of year two, he was diagnosed with autism, but the exclusions continued. … “I think the majority of these children that are excluded persistently at a young age have special needs that aren’t being met by the schools. These children are in an impossible position.”… In Norfolk’s secondary schools 5,530 fixed term exclusions were recorded last year, up from 2,761 in 2013-14. In Suffolk, 4,067 were recorded, almost double the 2,288 recorded in 2012/13. … What do teachers say? The decision to exclude or not rests with individual headteachers, with some opting to do everything possible to avoid exclusions. One experienced Norfolk primary school teacher, who asked not to be named, said a lack of funding was one of the big reasons behind high exclusion figures. “Child and adolescent mental health services have lost a lot of funding, and waiting lists are growing and growing,” she said. …

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