An “alarming number” of parents have said that their schools are using unofficial exclusions as a means of dealing with pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND), a new Ofsted report says.
These illegal exclusions have been used as a behaviour-management policy, in addition to fixed-term exclusions, the schools inspectorate has said.
In its report into local-area SEND inspections, published today, Ofsted said: “School leaders had used unofficial exclusions too readily to cope with children and young people who have SEND.
"Across nearly all local areas inspected, an alarming number of parents said that some school leaders asked them to take their children home… It is illegal.”
Inspectors also reported that the pupils were excluded, absent or missing from school much more frequently than their peers. Even in areas where the proper code of practice was well-implemented, school leaders did not have appropriate plans to deal with the levels of exclusions for these pupils, Ofsted said.
In fact, inspectors concluded that, overall, pupils with SEND “had a much poorer experience of the education system than their peers.
“Too often, local-area leaders were not clear how their actions were improving outcomes for those children and young people identified as needing SEND support.”
Other concerns raised in the Ofsted report include:
- Many pupils identified as having social, emotional and mental-health needs were not able to access the support they required. While many areas had seen a rise in referrals to child and adolescent mental health services, these services regularly rejected referrals because they did not meet their thresholds.
- Too few school staff had the necessary knowledge and skills to identify when pupils who were struggling in class needed further assessments.
- Poor joint-working arrangements between education, health and care departments meant that authorities did not always have a holistic picture of pupils’ needs.
- Parents reported that an education, health and care plan was like a “golden ticket to better outcomes”, even when their children’s needs did not require such a plan.
- Therapy services were often too overstretched to deliver the services needed in local areas.
- In nearly all areas inspected, there was a degree of parental dissatisfaction. Parents were not always convinced that their children were receiving the full provision that they should.
- Area leaders often did not have a good enough understanding of what high-quality outcomes should look like for SEND pupils.