School exclusion - finding out about our rights in an independent school

autism school informal exclusion, equality act

This week I am a little less fearful about my Son's future at school as we have found out a few more facts, and we are starting to feel like the odds winning the game of "Find Help Before Our Son is Excluded" a.k.a "The Gameare a little more in our favour.

Fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what's about to happen. When you feel helpless, you're far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts.

-- Chris Hadfield (Astronaut)

We now know that since ASD and ADHD is a recognised disability schools are bound by legislation when dealing with behaviour linked to this disability. In addition we have identified people/ organisations who can join us in meetings with the school, and guide us through the EHC assessment process.

This knowledge has given us increased confidence to discuss options with our Son's school, and the disorientating feeling of not knowing where to turn or what to do is starting to fade.

The Legislation

Informal Exclusions are unlawful in mainstream schools
In mainstream schools informal or unofficial exclusions are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of the parents.

Unfortunately independent schools are not required to comply with exclusions legislation and guidance, however an informal exclusion may be challenged if informal exclusions are not contained as a Sanction in their Behaviour policy.

Equality Act 2010
All schools are bound by the Equality Act 2010 which states that schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to both to their policies and practices when dealing with behaviour attributable to a disability.

This includes providing auxiliary aids and services, including additional support or assistance for a disabled pupil.

So what is classed as reasonable?

This seems to be a subjective judgement based on the associated costs and resources available to the school, which makes it tricky to know what  exactly what would / wouldn't be considered as a reasonable adjustment if we don't get an EHC plan.

That said it does seem, based on the advised received to date, that the school may be required to provide some support for our Son, even if we don't get the EHC funding.

Hopefully one day this legislation will go further, and it will be easier to access support for children in school, even in private schools, which would mean a lot less stress for the family and the child.

Getting Advice and Support

National Autistic Society
I have read almost every word on the NAS Website website including their guide Asperger syndrome: a school's guide, which is a great source of information.  

We received invaluable advice during a phone appointment with the NAS School Exclusions Service, which they followed up with an email containing a customised 20 page report detailing the points discussed on the call.

This report was an amazing source of information - outlining our legal rights, advising of potential training courses and providing contact details for organisations who can offer support, including those that can offer free legal support for challenging exclusions.

Send IAS
The other great source of support was from Bucks SEND IAS who also advised us of the legislation and our rights, and are able to provide independent advice and support during discussions with the school. They also offer support for the EHC process.

Looking ahead

While the thought of a legal challenge is very unappealing, it is good to know our rights and where we can turn to should we find ourself in a situation where we forced to fight an informal or permanent exclusion.

Have you had to deal with temporary or permanent exclusion? If so, were you able to get support in challenging the exclusion and getting the school to change their stance?

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