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(UK) Exclusions disproportionately used against SPED students

April 30, 2022, Independent: Voices: We should support the ban on children being excluded from primary school

…The Commission on Young Lives report today argues for a ban on primary school exclusions from 2026, alongside support and resources for schools to provide specialist provision that keeps children in school.

Unfortunately, the number of suspensions and exclusions in primary school are increasing. In the last full term before Covid, there were 30,000 suspensions, while permanent exclusions increased by 20 per cent in primary schools compared to 3 per cent in secondary schools. The disruption of the past two years have led to increased demand for mental health services for children and we are yet to see the full impact of the pandemic on children, including an increase in behavioural difficulties….

Exclusions are also disproportionately used with Black Caribbean boys and young men, as well as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children, children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and those eligible for free school meals (FSM). ...

At Chance UK, one in seven of children we worked with last year had been excluded – we heard recently from a mum whose child was suspended 17 times while he was in reception and another whose child was only five when he was permanently excluded for the first time.

A large scale study showed that children with mental health problems and psychological distress were more likely to be excluded in the first place, but exclusion also increased levels of psychological distress three years later, creating a vicious circle. One parent told us: “the more they failed him, the worse his behaviour became. It became so bad, he began cutting himself”….

At the moment there is just not enough specialist help available – we see children who are on waiting lists for specialist support when they are first referred to us. And when our intervention ends nine months later, many are still waiting to receive help. So, it’s vital that teachers and schools feel supported and have the right resources in place to be able to work with children….


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