‘Illegal’ exclusion of kids with further help wants from East Lothian colleges

One in four children with additional support needs was “informally” excluded from school, according to a new survey, with nearly half of them being sent home nearly a dozen times.

Parents who responded to the Inclusion in East Lothian Education support group survey said they were asked to pick up their children early or to leave them at home for certain activities or events.

It is illegal to prevent a child from attending school without a formal disqualification.

However, some parents stated that this had not only happened to them, but that their child had been “informally excluded” up to eleven times in several cases.

The Facebook support group was set up late last year when the East Lothian Council launched a public consultation on its latest draft education policy on inclusion.

It now has more than 130 members and polled them to find out about their parents’ experiences.

READ MORE: Warning Of Children At Risk

The survey, which was attended by 88 members, found that 14 parents had learned that their child had been officially banned from school, but 22 of them had been asked to “informally banned” their child. 10 said this had happened more than eleven times.

It was also found that 15 parents reported their child being placed on a part-time schedule against their will.

The majority of parents (73) reported that their child had mental health problems that had been exacerbated by their school experience, and more than half of parents reported that their ability to keep employment was increased by having a child with additional Support needs had been impaired.

Last month, a report to the East Lothian Council warned that schools are at high risk of failing children with additional support needs because they are unable to support them in the county.

One mother in the group said her child had traveled 40 miles to attend a school that could provide him with the support he needed – paid for at a “feast for the eyes” of the council.

The report to the Council’s Audit and Governance Committee last month warned that the demand for assistance was exceeding capacity, leading to the risk of “customer needs not being met and the security and independence of customers at risk, which may pose a reputational risk to the council and fail to meet legal responsibilities ”.

A support group spokesman said some parents were concerned that the informal exclusions they were experiencing were due to the school being unable to support their children due to staffing issues rather than concerns about the child or an incident In terms of behavior.

The Council’s current inclusion policy, adopted two years ago, warns that “excluding any other learner from school who does not comply with the 1975 regulations is illegal”.

It adds: “In any situation where learners are sent home for certain periods of time to cool off or to do longer term assessments and planning, they need to be officially expelled.

“For reasons of behavior or an incident, children and adolescents must not be sent home from school without being excluded.”

The group encourages school principals to receive additional training to assist children with additional support needs and to listen to parents’ concerns.

The survey found that 72 of 88 parents said their child’s school did not point them to outside sources of support, while 75 (out of 88) respondents encountered resistance, delays, or both in accessing services such as educational psychology or occupational therapy.

And it showed that two thirds of families said that their children had experienced bullying at school because of their need for additional support.

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