Students with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans are still five times more likely to be excluded from school than students without an EHC plan and figures for those with undiagnosed SEND are likely to be much higher, but are not currently recorded.
Autistic students are the largest SEND group to be excluded.
For many of these pupils the reason for the exclusion will be because of unmet SEND need, although others will be well supported by the mainstream school but may need a more specialist school place or alternative provision which is better matched to their needs.
It is unacceptable for the disproportionate exclusions of SEND students to continue. Reviewing the DfE behaviour and exclusions advice, alongside the planned SEND Review provides an ideal opportunity for the Government to boost the support for schools. We need a more inclusive system which takes a more holistic, whole child approach towards behaviour support. We need co-operation and outreach from specialist settings to support staff in mainstream settings.
To achieve this the government will need to:
- Ensure timely access to SEND assessment and diagnosis through increased funding in the system.
- Fund CAMHS properly so that children and young people can be seen quickly at the time of most need and schools can signpost with confidence that a student will receive mental health support.
- Create a high-quality training offer around SEND and behaviour within the Early Career Framework and ensure schools have the time and capacity for regular behaviour/SEND CPD for all classroom-based staff.
- Allow schools flexibility around the curriculum offer for SEND students and reduce assessment pressures.
- Ensure funding levels allow schools to maintain and increase support staff and pastoral staff.
- Support SENCOs by considering the recommendations of the National SENCO workload survey.