Disabled children still excluded from school more than non-disabled peers

2 mins read

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Sad girl being comforted by mum

New data released by the Department for Education (DfE) shows that pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in England continue to be more likely to be permanently excluded or suspended from school than non-disabled children.

During the school year 2021/22, exclusion rates for children with no SEN were 0.05. For those with an education, health and care (EHC) plan they were 0.13. And for those with SEN but no EHC plan, they were 0.25. This was the first full school year since the pandemic.

Una Summerson, Head of Campaigns at Contact, said:

“Exclusion is a top concern for many of our families. Schools could be acting unlawfully if excluding pupils because of behaviour resulting from their SEN. They must also consider other support and measures first, using suspension and exclusion as a last resort. And sadly these figures will be the tip of the iceberg. We know that many disabled children are also regularly excluded by unofficial means: put on part-time timetables or kept away from certain activities, for example.

“It is vital that children with SEN get the right support, in a suitable setting, to reduce this disparity in exclusion and suspension rates. Being excluded from school has a devastating impact on a child’s education and mental health, as well as that of the whole family.”

Need advice on exclusions?

We have updated our online information about exclusions to ensure parents know their rights and how to challenge decisions.


Exclusion is the formal sending home of a pupil from school for disciplinary reasons. An exclusion can be permanent or fixed-term (temporary, and sometimes referred to in government guidance as “suspension”.) A pupil is not allowed in school while they are excluded.

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