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School unfair to disabled pupil

Teenager with ADHD should not have been excluded, rules special needs tribunal. Stephen Lucas reports

Staff at a Dudley school have been ordered to learn about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after a tribunal ruled that an excluded pupil was unlawfully discriminated against.

Lee Grosvenor, 14, was excluded from Wordsley school a year ago for three days after he swore at a teacher and left the lesson before the bell went.

His parents, Mark and Kim Grosvenor, said it was unfair because their son was disabled. They were backed last month by a special educational needs and disability tribunal which concluded the exclusion amounted to unlawful discrimination. Wordsley staff were ordered to undergo training.

A Dudley council spokeswoman said: "The council will work with the school to ensure that this training is completed by the end of July."

Mr Grosvenor, 42, said: "This case should send out a message to all schools to provide support for children with disabilities."

Steve Grosvenor, 19, who represented his brother and his parents at the tribunal, said: "Lee's really pleased with the outcome. He is at a new school now and is doing well. This is a good start to giving disabled kids, especially ones with ADHD, the support they need."

Children with ADHD are usually impulsive and hyperactive and may have social skills and self-esteem problems. It is thought to be caused by a deficiency in behaviour-regulating chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters.

Lee, diagnosed with ADHD in May 2002, gets a disability allowance and takes Ritalin and other medication for his condition. He started at Wordsley in September 2001, and by December the following year he had been excluded eight times for verbal and physical abuse, including hitting a student in the face five times.

Mike Lambert, headteacher, said: "We did everything we could to ensure Lee stayed in school. We had 50 meetings with his parents, we had an educational psychologist in, and a consultant paediatrician. We had strategies in place to deal with his behaviour. But I had to have the welfare of staff and students at the forefront of my mind.

"During Year 7 there was at least one instance of verbal abuse towards fellow pupils and three incidents of verbal abuse towards staff. In the same year, he assaulted four other pupils.

"In addition, Lee let off the fire alarm and brought an air pistol into school. He went missing from lessons on at least seven occasions and it was during one such absence that Lee fell into the canal. I believe that his exclusions were all fully justified."

An attempt to permanently exclude Lee from Wordsley in May 2003 was overturned by a local appeals panel. However, he is now at Thorns community college, Dudley.

The tribunal said that although Mr Lambert had a "genuine wish to allow Lee to succeed at school" it was concerned by the length of many of the exclusions.

Another Voice 22

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