The minister responsible for SEND and disadvantaged children has said he wants to explore ways to encourage schools to work together to not exclude pupils.
Nadhim Zahawi was speaking at meeting on reducing exclusions and closing the gap for children with SEND at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
He raised the issue of off-rolling pupils, where parents are encouraged to remove their children from the school roll to avoid a formal exclusion.
He said: “I want to be crystal clear that such activity is illegal, unethical and will not be tolerated.
“I have already said that an excluded child is clearly at a severe disadvantage compared to their no-excluded peers.
“Arguably, an excluded pupil with a special educational need is at an even greater disadvantage, not only does an excluded pupil with SEN lose what their non-SEN counterparts would lose, but they also lose any additional SEN support their school provides them.”
After hearing from other members of the panel, he said: “One of the things I’d certainly like to look at is how do we incentivise schools to collaborate to determine that they will not exclude.”
The meeting heard how exclusion rates have risen since 2013, with 3,000 more permanent exclusions in 2017 than in 2013.
Natalie Perera, executive director of education policy at the Education Policy Institute, said children with SEND who are recorded as having a social, emotional or mental health difficulty are 18 times more likely to be excluded than a child without SEND, while a black Carribean boy is three times more likely to be excluded than the rest of the school population.