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    « Staff mental health – did you know? | Main | Student awarded £16k in sexual harassment case »

    Landmark ruling on exclusion of disabled students

    Students whose disability impacts on their behaviour are now better protected from discrimination, following a landmark ruling. Are your staff clear on how to ensure discrimination doesn’t take place when managing a learner’s behaviour that might be linked to their disability?

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission have funded an appeal brought by the parents of a 13-year-old boy with special educational needs, known as ‘L’, who was excluded from school due to behaviour which was linked to his autism.

    The Special Educational Needs Upper Tribunal has now ruled that provisions in the Equality Act, which meant that schools were not required to make reasonable adjustments to support children in these circumstances, are unlawful.

    Responding to the judgment, Melanie Field, Executive Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

    'The level of exclusions of pupils with a special educational need or disability has risen dramatically in the last few years and they are now almost seven times more likely to be permanently excluded than other pupils.

    'We are delighted with this judgment which will require schools to make reasonable adjustments to try to prevent or manage challenging behaviour and justify that any exclusion in these circumstances is proportionate. This is a positive step towards ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential through education and increasing the inclusion of disabled children in mainstream education.'

    Some years ago, I worked with the Learning and Skills Development Agency to carry out research on best practice in supporting disabled learners. You can see some of my publications from this research here

    One of these, called What’s your problem? was a publication relevant to the full range of staff working in FE colleges, adult and community learning organisations, work-based learning and offender contexts. It surveys the steps necessary for organisations to review and revise their ways of including learners with challenging behaviour, including:

    • creating consensus in the organisation on what constitutes challenging behaviour
    • creating a clear and holistic framework that is supported at all levels of the organisation
    • exploring what needs to take place at policy, procedural and delivery levels, and creating a clear plan for implementing these changes.

    You can download this resource here

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