Disabled children unlawfully excluded by schools

Disabled children are illegally sent home from school because there are not enough staff to cope with them, according to new research from Contact a Family.

The charity’s Falling Through The Net survey of more than 400 families with disabled children provided some worrying results.

A child can only be legally excluded from school for disciplinary reasons.

More than half of the families surveyed had been asked to collect their child during the school day because of staff shortages. Fifty-six per cent of the children had been excluded from school trips. Fifty per cent of the parents questioned said that they were unable to work properly, as they were frequently called to school, and 43 per cent said that the situation was making their disabled child feel depressed.

Unlike regular exclusion, schools do not have to report this to the authorities, so it is increasingly difficult to monitor.

Srabani Sen, Contact a Family’s chief executive, said, ‘Children with additional needs are missing out on a good education and the opportunity to form friendships because of illegal exclusions.’

‘If non-disabled pupils were sent home because there were not enough staff, there would be an uproar,’ she said.  

Families who need the most help are being neglected, according to the report.

Claire Parkinson has a son with Asperger’s who attends a London school. ‘It started with the school asking me to bring my son home at lunchtimes every day. Work was impossible for me, and I suffered health problems and lost a lot of confidence,’ she said.

Contact a Family advises that schools should work more closely with families to understand a child’s condition. The report also states that where exclusion is necessary, a school should follow the same statutory procedure that they would with an able-bodied student.


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