The department publishes statutory guidance on exclusion titled ‘Exclusion from maintained schools, Academies and pupil referral units in England’. This guidance covers the entirety of the exclusion process and includes specific requirements in relation to pupils with Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Schools have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against disabled pupils by excluding them from school because of their disability. Head teachers should make additional efforts to consider what extra support may be required to avoid exclusion of pupils with SEND, and as far as possible, should avoid permanently excluding pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP).
Our statutory guidance is clear that head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding permanently any pupil with an EHCP, and that early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any SEN or disability that a pupil may have. The head teacher should also consider the use of a multi-agency assessment for a pupil who demonstrates persistent disruptive behaviour. Such assessments may pick up unidentified SEN but the scope of the assessment could go further, for example, by seeking to identify mental health or family problems.
The government previously committed to revising guidance on exclusions and behaviour and we will provide an update on plans to publish revised guidance in due course.