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Secretary of State for Education discusses exclusions from school

Friday 6th July 2018

Yesterday the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP, addressed directors of children's services at a conference in Manchester.

In it he acknowledged the budgetary pressure local authorities face despite government investment in the education for children with complex special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

Commenting on some of the key points in Damian Hinds' speech, Una Summerson, head of campaigns at Contact, says:

"We welcome the Secretary of State's focus on SEND in his speech and the recognition that too many disabled children with SEND are being excluded from mainstream schools. He was clear that 'off-rolling' was not ok. This is an inexcusable practice where schools ask parents of children with SEN to keep them at home because 'Ofsted is coming' or because they say they are unable to meet their needs.

"Contact's own research, Falling through the net [PDF], found that children with a disability, special educational need or additional need are routinely illegally excluded from school. Almost a quarter (22 percent) of those are illegally excluded every week. This can have a devastating impact on their education and mental health as well as having wider implications for families. Half of parents told us they are unable to work due to the impact of illegal exclusions on family life.

"We are particularly encouraged to hear the Secretary of State make it very clear that all schools are schools for children with SEND and every teacher is a teacher of SEND pupils. And the government's commitment to continue joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspections will help keep the spotlight on SEND in local areas. We look forward to hearing more about the government's next steps to ensure mainstream schools are focused on and equipped to support pupils who need extra support in the classroom and are made more accountable for this."