Yesterday, the Education Bill was debated for the first time in Parliament. The Bill will implement some sections of the education white paper, published in December.
We briefed MPs on the Bill, before it was debated and as a result, the impact of the Bill on children with autism was raised a number of times during the debate.
In particular, we had expressed concerns about the replacement of Independent Appeal Panels for exclusions with Review Panels, which would not have the power to reinstate children who had been permanently excluded.
A number of MPs highlighted the disproportionate number of children with autism who have been excluded. Conservative MP Richard Fuller said that the high number of exclusions of children with autism needed more attention.
Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham said, “Parents of children with disabilities and special needs already face a battle to get them a good education. With changes to admissions and exclusions, which will see schools become judge and jury, the Bill stacks the odds against those children even further”.
Education Minister Nick Gibb responded that parents would still have the right of appeal on exclusions.
The NAS are also particularly concerned that the Bill removes the duty on schools to co-operate with other local agencies.
We also oppose the Government’s earlier decision to remove the duty on local authorities to develop a Children and Young People’s Plan.
Liberal Democrat MP Annette Brooke stressed the importance of these plans and of joined up working between education, health and social care, particularly for those with complex needs, such as autism.
We look forward to the imminent publication of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Green Paper to determine further how the Government intends its educational reforms to impact on children with SEN.