Exclusions right and sometimes wrong

4th September 2009 at 01:00

The recent High Court ruling against a Cambridgeshire primary for disability discrimination has caused concern, as shown in your recent letters (August 7 and 14).

But I am not convinced it is warranted as in basic terms the case does not take the law on disability discrimination any further forward - it mainly restates what the law has been since disability discrimination became a part of education law in September 2002.

The judge found against the school on one narrow ground - it had not adequately trained staff to deal with ADHD. The training was undertaken a month after the incident that led to the exclusion, so the school had not taken reasonable steps to avoid placing the child at significant disadvantage (by excluding him).

The decision does not mean pupils with ADHD or other behavioural difficulties cannot be excluded if teachers or other pupils are assaulted. The tribunal found the reasons for the exclusion, being based on health and safety and maintenance of standards, were justifiable grounds for the exclusion.

The decision merely reminded schools that there is a requirement to ensure that sufficient training is given to staff about that condition and how to deal with certain situations. Had the school had the training six weeks earlier, the decision could have been very different and a lesser cause of concern to the teaching community.

Richard Freeth, Associate, Anthony Collins Solicitors, Birmingham.

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