Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Campaigning successes on exclusions

The National Autistic Society (NAS), along with other members of the Special Educational Consortium (SEC), has been campaigning on the proposed reforms set out in the Education Bill.

We had particular concerns about proposals in the Bill in relation to exclusions. The Bill proposes replacing Independent Appeals Panels (IAPs) who currently review decisions on exclusions with new Review Panels.

Unlike IAPs, the Review Panels will not have the power to reinstate students who have been excluded if they feel that they were wrongfully so. We were also concerned about the knowledge and understanding of autism and other Special Educational Needs (SEN) among members of the Review Panels.

These reforms apply to England only.

Following campaigning from the NAS and the SEC, the Government has made the following commitments on exclusion:

  • The SEN Tribunal will hear disability discrimination cases where a child has been permanently excluded and re-instatement will be a possible remedy in these cases;
  • Revised statutory guidance on exclusions will explicitly state the need for Governors to take special educational needs into account when reviewing the decision to exclude;
  • Parents will be able to request that an SEN expert attend the review panel; and
  • Using risk of exclusion as a trigger for a multi-agency assessment of need will be included in guidance
The NAS has continuing concerns on the specifics of these commitments. For instance, who will be the SEN expert that sits on a Review Panel? We also remain concerned about who the statutory guidance will apply to and how it will be monitored and enforced.

Let us know what you think of the changes in the box below.