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Permanent Exclusion with Statement of Educational Needs

(105 Posts)
Hawthorn1000 Mon 20-Feb-17 18:49:13

My 8 year old son has just been excluded due to behaviour issues. The statement he has was for this poor behaviour and he was on maximum support from the local authority. The exclusion decision was made by the head and the lad was given a 3.5 day exclusion, followed without warning by a permanent exclusion without him having returned to school. Just wondered if anyone had experience of this as it seems to be just a little knee jerk and will do nothing for the boy who has attachment and anger issues dating back from before he was adopted. We have always been very support of the school and feel let down that they have just dropped him without even an attempt at a planned move.

Mary21 Mon 20-Feb-17 19:06:57

Get in touch with IPSEA they have lots of info on their website and ensure everything is in writing

Hawthorn1000 Mon 20-Feb-17 19:36:24

Mary21 - thanks, just reading some of it now and it seems more 'real world' than some of the other information on the internet which doesn't seem to get the pressures involved for a young boy in this situation

admission Mon 20-Feb-17 21:08:59

The 3.5 days would be a typical fixed term exclusion whilst the school were properly investigating an incident, in other words a holding action.
So the first question is whether the letter from the school giving your child a 3.5 day exclusion said that it was for behaviour and that it could be extended depending on the outcome of an investigation. If it does then they are entitled to extend the exclusion to PE. If not then they will have to explain that at any Independent Review.
If I had to guess the school have spoken to the LA, not got the response they were looking for and made the decision to PE the pupil. Where the school have a real challenge is that your child has a statement for behavioural issues, so the school will have to prove that they have tried all appropriate and recommended actions to change the poor behaviour. I also note that child is adopted, which is a big red flag in terms of school looking for alternative strategies rather than PE. Even more reason to keep the pupil in school.
You clearly need to get the letter which resulted in the PE and see exactly what that says. You then need to get onto the special needs people at the LA and ask them for an explanation for this action. They actually can do nothing directly, as it is the school's decision to PE but they can certainly exert some pressure.
There is a set procedure that will be followed and the next step is for the governing body to consider the exclusion and agree / disagree with the decision of the head teacher. You need to understand (and probably also the school) that the head teacher can rescind the PE at any time up to the time of the governors meeting and that is also the time by which any managed move has to be organised. At the GB meeting the can either agree with the PE by the head teacher or they rescind it and send the pupil back to the school.
After that you can go to an independent review panel, so you do need to understand that this is probably going to be an extended time period when child will not be in a school, unless you can get a managed move.

Hawthorn1000 Mon 20-Feb-17 22:44:19

Thank you for your information which is useful. The original exclusion did not warn of any further action which is why I was astonished to receive the PE after 3pm on an inset day prior to the school shutting down for half term. In the week prior to the PE beginning I could not speak to anyone to do with the school nor obtain any further information.
My biggest concern was to try and avoid the stress for the lad and the impact of the rejection from the school but this is now past and I am struggling to understand what is now best for him - give up on the school that no longer wants him after four years and find somewhere new or put him through a war to stay where he is.
The head teacher was reminded of the history and they know well the issues with him as they have developed the strategies for dealing with him since he started at the school and we as a family have worked closely with them and were very trusting of their actions which I now realise was very foolish. I sort of thought some one somewhere (!) would point out that there had to be a better way to handle this!

tethersend Mon 20-Feb-17 23:06:43

What was the reason given for the exclusion?

The school should have held an emergency/interim EHCP review and invited someone from the LA SEN team before resorting to PE. This is the forum in which they should be stating that they can no longer meet your son's needs. Since they have not done this, it is likely that you could successfully appeal the exclusion. The exclusion letter should outline the process for this- contact your LA's Independent Advice and Support Service who will help you with this.

You need to decide if you want him to return to the school- they could, even if the exclusion is overturned, follow SEN procedure and state to the LA that they can no longer meet his needs.

If you choose not to challenge the exclusion, it is important that your son has the chance of a proper ending at school, particularly given that he is adopted. He needs to be given the chance to say goodbye to staff and friends.

Was he adopted from care? If so, how have the school spent his pupil premium plus?

As he has been permanently excluded, the LA has responsibility to provide full time suitable education from the 6th day of the exclusion (including the initial 3.5 days). Have you spoken to the exclusions team?

Hawthorn1000 Tue 21-Feb-17 07:10:12

Good morning and thanks for your reply

The reason for the exclusion was that 'allowing him to remain in school would seriously harm the education and welfare of pupils and staff'. The lad is challenging and that was what the pupil premium was being spent on - various measures were in place at the school but the head teacher was constantly complaining about lack of money which I believe is the driving issue here.

The last SEN review in October came up with a plan (largely driven by the parents) which focused on closer communication and Theraplay (recommended following a clinical psychologists report in the summer which suggested that if something effective wasn't done soon then this might be the last opportunity for intervention) which would commence as soon as possible and indeed started a week before the PE (this therapy is now in disarray).

I had thought that all you say would ring some alarm bells but none of the LA departments have been able to make an impact here (the lad is schooled in a different LA area from where he lives which I don't think helps).

The lad was adopted some five months before he started school at this location and this has been his only school so far in his life.

There has been no talk of any managed parting from the school. I had proposed that an emergency SEN meeting should take place with the clear understanding that a managed move might be on the agenda but the head teacher has refused this (even when raised with the LA SEN) on the grounds that it would be dangerous for pupils and staff for him to remain there until Easter (the time the LA SEN felt it would take to put everything in place). There has been no talk of parting company with his friends and teachers who he loves - at risk of being cynical the head teacher wants rid of the problem and has no interest in the impact of him and sadly no-one in authority seems able to do anything about it (and thus I am enquiring for help on this forum).

You mention that the exclusion clock started ticking from the first 3.5 day exclusion if I read this correctly - does the inset day in between not affect this? If so then does the 15 school days for a Governors meeting start from the first day of exclusion (and presumably does not include the inset day and half term)?

Thanks for your help

admission Tue 21-Feb-17 18:19:21

All time periods are in school days, that is when pupils are in school.
You are in a slightly difficult position in that responsibility for education of the child lies with the LA where you live, not where you go to school, which may be why you are not seeing anybody do anything.
I would approach the "virtual head" for looked after pupils in the LA that you live. They will have some responsibility as a previously looked after child to ensure that their education is continued.
The idea that everything has been tried is blown away by the fact that the latest idea had only been going a week. Also not holding an emergency SEN meeting is unacceptable. I do have sympathy for the school in some ways as I know as a Chair of Governors how difficult some of these problems are for the school. But in this case you are I think quite right they have just decided to get rid but is wrong and very unprofessional.
You need to think seriously about whether you want him to go back to this school - I suspect not. But I would seriously suggest that you do take this PE further to try to get it rescinded, so it is not on their record. Having a PE on their school record will be a potential problem later on in their education.

tethersend Tue 21-Feb-17 20:10:40

The 15 school days starts from the date of the PE- however, the six day plus provision (the responsibility of your home LA since he has been permanently excluded) starts from the first day of the exclusion, including the 3.5 days.

Since there appears not to have been one major incident, I echo admission- they have no grounds for not having convened an emergency EHCP review, as this situation was wholly anticipated. This is strong grounds for challenging the PE.

Unfortunately the Virtual Head does not have any responsibility for previously looked after children, only for those currently in care. However, this is likely to change in the near future with the advent of the Children and Social work bill, so you may find that they are willing to offer some advice. If you PM me the authority in which the child lives, I can give you the Virtual School's contact details.

I would be seriously thinking about whether you want the child to return to a school which does not allow him to say goodbye to children and adults he has formed attachments to. It speaks of a serious and harmful lack of understanding of his needs as an adopted child. Irrespective of this, I would still challenge the PE and ask SEN to name a different school on his EHCP. This normally needs to be done via an EHCP review.

NotMeNoNo Tue 21-Feb-17 20:24:41

I just wanted to say this could not be more timely as we are rapidly cannoning towards PE with our adopted 12yo. I'm reading all this with interest. Our school has no concept of DS's level of anxiety and hypervigilance which is coming out in (to him) defensive behaviour.
(Hugs) to you both I hope you get something worked out and you sound much calmer than me!

tethersend Tue 21-Feb-17 21:54:52

PAC-UK run an Education Advice Line which you may find useful:

Tel 020 7284 5879
Wednesday & Thursday 10.00am-12.00pm
Excluding half term and school holidays

Hawthorn1000 Tue 21-Feb-17 23:38:23

Really honestly thank you to everyone that has responded!

It is not even so much the concrete information that has been provided (which I am reading) but it is the support of my gut feeling that this is just not fair or right and that this needs to be challenged firmly which I will do.
I was half way to just walking away because clearly nobody in authority was going to help (sorry, a bit sad of me) but there are concrete things to fight for such as removing the PE and ensuring that the lad has the right resolution to his time with the school.
I agree with Admission and tethersend that he cannot go back to that school and particularly when the same head is still in charge. An additional rather obvious reason I have not mentioned before is that his sister is also at the school - she however is two years older and thankfully does not have the issues the lad has but I cant reasonably not contest the way this man is handling things at the school while she is still there (albeit she will leave soon).

I have a meeting now planned with the SEN co-ordinator from the local authority but this is solely to do with the identification of a new school. As she has posted to me today - 'well the school has made its position clear so we need to move on'.
I am also now in touch with the Governors with a view to arranging the appeal date. I feel cheeky in raising this bearing in mind that you admission are a Chair of Governors but I do wonder how independent they will be when I step in front of them bearing in mind they employ the head teacher and I assume that they will have been involved in the decision making prior to the PE. Am I just becoming too cynical about everything now following my recent experience?
I would just like to make a point about my lad's behaviour and that is to say that it was not the best either at school or at home. The teachers we could talk with, and the family got on well with most of them, could share jokes with us about how it was now our turn on a Friday as he went home and we could respond that it was their turn as he went back into the school gates on a Monday morning. But all those 'front line' people were doing their best for him.

Notmenono - I really know where you are and I assure you that any calmness is just careful typing! There is a lot of real anger and frustration in the family and it is very difficult to focus on doing the day to day work and running a family things but I think this is partly to the feeling of having absolutely no control over what is going on.
I hope that the advice that the other posters are giving will help you see where you can find further help and find some control over what is going on.
If I can offer advice from our own current experience and it hurts me to say this because I think the best of people but I don't think that you can afford to trust much of what is being said to you without checking it and very importantly writing it down. Document every meeting that takes place, any comments and follow them through. Get the post adoption people involved and the SEN co-ordinator. We trusted them, we didn't query exclusions (even informal ones) and this is where it has got us.
The other much more experienced posters might tell you different or more specific advice but as one to another this is what I see just now and I think (and hope) that if you can get this control then you can make some positive progress.
Many hugs back and if we can do anything to help then let me know.

bojorojo Wed 22-Feb-17 00:19:51

I am wondering if you could negotiate a change to the statement to name a special school which will have a greater understanding of his needs? He will need another school named, so try and get an appropriate one.

Also if he has funding from his statement and PP funding, he is well funded! The school cannot use poor funding as an excuse. However it appears mainstream is not working. If he can go to a special school he will get transport. The teacher/pupil ratio will be much higher and they will be experts in child behaviour. Usually you have to wait for a place at a special school and mainstream schools used to employ the PE tactic to speed this up. I am sorry to see it is still happening!

NotMeNoNo Wed 22-Feb-17 11:43:42

Wise words about not taking things at face value and getting it in writing as we are now finding out.

Hawthorn1000 Wed 22-Feb-17 13:25:30

Thanks bojorojo

Yes special schools are on the agenda and there are two in the area.

And it seems that mainstream is not working but then what do I know! I would imagine that some mainstream schools may be able to do a more effective job particularly with (as you say) substantial additional resources. One of my concerns with the way the existing (or ex-school) has been the fact that the plan from October was not fully implemented so is that an indicator that they really are not up to this job anyone.

My lad seems to be over active and is certainly a handful - does this mean a special school is the way forward or would a more disciplined approach within a mainstream environment be more appropriate? The answer is I don't know and am trying now to find out as quickly as I can.

I am interested in the idea that the existing school might be doing us a favour by applying the PE to get us up the list of a special school but it seems a strategy that is very sure of itself and the level of help my boy needs and I have never had the impression that they were that on top of things. Will discover more before our meeting tomorrow.

bojorojo Wed 22-Feb-17 17:35:11

When I used to work in this field (a long time ago now), PE was regularly threatened and carried out when children had behavioural difficulties in primary schools. These days, schools are supposed to be more inclusive but some do throw the towel in. They cite exactly what yours has done. They cannot meet the needs of your child and they think other children are not safe.

I would also think the LA and the SEND Officers will have great difficulty in persuading another mainstream school to have him. They can alter the statement to the "best fit" mainstream school but if they cannot establish a good relationship with this school, then you are not in a good position for success. For example, a school may already have 30 in the class. They may already have quite a few SEND children. Even mainstream schools that have fantastic experience of behaviour difficulties will find an additional child with complex behavioural needs very difficult to cope with and may not welcome the challenge.

If I was doing my old job now - I would be talking to the Statement team and the Ed Psychs as a matter of urgency to see if they thought mainstream was realistic for the immediate future, or whether we should look at an appropriate Special School.

I am not sure a disciplined approach in a mainstream school is really possible. It would take a huge amount of effort and would be quite a different approach to that employed in many mainstream schools.

Special Schools have staff who are experienced and qualified to deal with his behaviour on a daily basis. Much more individual attention because of significantly higher staff/pupil ratios and usually a very calm and purposeful ethos with clear rules and consequences, but understanding at the same time. I would try and see what his Ed Psych thinks as they have experience of similar children and are an important cog in the statement process. I have no doubt your existing (previous) Head will be making it clear they are unable to educate him in mainstream. Therefore I really would try to get expert teaching, smaller classes and a school that wants him. No child has to stay at a special school if they improve. They can reintegrate. Spaces at Special Schools are at a premium but if the LA cannot find a mainstream school, they will negotiate with the Head of the Special School as they will need to offer him a place at an appropriate school. Hope your meeting goes well.

admission Wed 22-Feb-17 17:36:15

I do think that you need to consider whether a special school is the right place for the child. It could be the right place if he has no control over his behaviour but your posts suggest to me that this is more of a question of him using poor behavior to try and achieve what he wants. In that case a special school is not necessarily going to be the right place for him.

In terms of the governor discipline panel, I am afraid that it is a difficult situation for everybody. The panel of governors must not have had any dealings with issues about your child. The whole purpose of the meeting is for the GB panel to consider the circumstances of the PE and be convinced by the head teacher that they made the right decision. As such they should take into consideration the previous history of poor behaviour but much more importantly be considering whether given the child is adopted and has SEN that the school have done everything possible to change the poor behaviour.
The obvious answer from your posts is that they should come to a conclusion that the school has not done everything and rescind the PE. Will they do that? Well it depends on what experience they have of PE and the governor appeal panel. In many primary schools that might be very limited. It will also depend as you say just what kind of relationship there is between head and governors. If it is the right relationship then the head
teacher will expect and get asked appropriate questions asked of them. However I would have to say that i could name plenty of schools local to me who do not have that relationship and it is very much a view that the head is always right. In that case I am afraid that the governors appeal panel will just rubber-stamp the PE decision.
I would however be very clear that in my opinion you should be looking to get this PE overturned if possible and that you should attend the governors appeal panel.

PoppyStellar Wed 22-Feb-17 18:04:29

I agree with admission. I have some experience in this area (and am also an adoptive parent) and you should definitely attend the panel. You are entitled to ask a representative from the LA to attend (this is often someone from the LA exclusions team but I think - although don't know for definite - that you could ask someone else from the LA if you already have a link with them.) You are also entitled to bring an independent person with you as support - this could be a friend or relative or someone else you know in a professional capacity, eg if you have any post adoption support you could ask someone from that team to attend.

A good governor panel should independently scrutinise the decision and should, in my opinion and experience, and from what you've said, recommend the PE is overturned. Adopted children are part of the groups of children considered most vulnerable for exclusion. For permanent exclusion of these groups of pupils schools need to demonstrate that they have exhausted all avenues of support prior to PE and it does not look like this has happened. It is not the governors' job to just rubber stamp the Head's decision, although I'm sure this does sometimes happen, and you should feel confident to challenge the school and the governors if it looks like this is happening at your hearing.

Best of luck with it all.

Hawthorn1000 Wed 22-Feb-17 18:05:51

Thanks bojorojo and admission for your views which give differing approaches both of which I will bear in mind for the meeting tomorrow.

As an objective overall either with the Governors or the independent review I will be looking to get the PE rescinded.

As to a special school or mainstream school there will need to be some hard talking with the LA. One thing that will be core will be that the school will be in the same area as the LA as the split arrangement has no doubt contributed to all this event to the extent that trying to get the Educational Psychologist involved with the different LA is a feat!

Part of me is looking forward to meeting the Governors panel to hear what they have to say.

There is a large amount of stress building here in terms of managing work commitments for the family against the extreme flexibility that this whole process is taking - an obvious number one priority for the family but less for employers who are not closely involved.........

lougle Wed 22-Feb-17 18:31:57

If any of the governors were consulted about giving a PE to your child, they can't form part of the panel for the exclusion hearing. If too many, or even all of the governors have in someway be involved ('tainted'), then they need to borrow governors from another school to hear the appeal, and the LA can help with arranging this. It's surprisingly common - small situations are dealt with by governors 1, 2, 3, then situation 2 is dealt with by governors 4, 5, 6. Situation 3 gets handed to governors 7, 4, 9 ... then it all his the fan and the Clerk looks down the list and realises that only governors 8 and 10 haven't been tainted.

Re. Special school, if he doesn't have a learning disability, then you'd be looking at a BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties) school. The only issue there is that, of course, all the other children would have similar difficulties and children can sometimes 'learn their craft' in terms of picking up new behaviours. On the positive, the staff will be experts at de-escalation and making positive behaviour rewarding.

Megatherium Wed 22-Feb-17 18:40:05

Contact the School Exclusion Project - they offer free help with challenging exclusions and are very good on SEN aspects. You might also like to consider a disability discrimination challenge, they can probably help with that.

tethersend Wed 22-Feb-17 19:25:12

Whatever happens, your son is entitled to be in full time provision now. Please contact your LA and ask what 6 day plus provision will be put in place while he is excluded. This would usually be the Pupil Referral Unit.

bojorojo Thu 23-Feb-17 09:47:14

I agree that the PE should be challenged and it will be interesting to see if the Governors question the Head in any meaningful way. In my experience Governors hate going against the "professional" judgement of the Head even when the Head is clearly wrong! They worry about their relationship with the Head and also feel they must back the Head because they appointed the Head. They can even defend the indefensible! Do get appropriate support in the meeting and you can counter the arguments of the Head. If your child is reinstated, expect a sulky Head and staff. They will resent this decision. They obviously wanted your child out of the school. It will be very hard to continue at this school - for all of you.

I do not actually agree that special schools give opportunities to learn more poor behaviour. It is only the children who need the most help that get into them but he would join a school where interventions were already beginning to work and staff are skilled in behaviour management. From what I see they are calm and organised. Much more than a teacher with no behaviour management experience who is having to learn on the job with a class of 30 in mainstream.

I appreciate your relationship with your home LA and the school being in a different area is a problem and I would seek to regularise this if possible. It is not helpful to have this arrangement and as you may need to amend the statement there is an opportunity to revisit this.

Megatherium Thu 23-Feb-17 14:21:02

In addition to pushing for your son's right to full time education, push them for all the support that's set out in the statement. It sounds like they probably need to do a full reassessment anyway, given that the support he had previously was obviously inadequate.

Hawthorn1000 Thu 23-Feb-17 16:26:58

Update following meeting with LA.

The meeting was generally positive (but bear in mind that this is the LA responsible for the SEN and post adoption and not the LA for the school as that is in a different County).
The SEN LA (to use a method of defining them) advised that they made representations to the head teacher to at least change the PE to a fixed exclusion while they arranged a SEN review to try and manage things. They tell me that the head refused this on the grounds that it would take too long and his staff and pupils would be at risk.
The SEN LA have suggested that the school may not have had the required skills to handle the lad and have proposed that they short list some schools in their LA area that are known to have succeeded in more extreme SEN cases and that negotiations be opened with them. The SEN LA have offered to provide their view to any potential school that they were not in agreement with the PE decision.
Contact is being made with the educational psychologist (unfortunately from the School LA) to obtain their input to discussions about a special school as this has not at this time been ruled out as an option.
We are going to hit the statutory date for the local LA to take over the schooling on Monday 27th February but the SEN LA has advised that it is unlikely that this will happen as the timing of things means that it is half term in this area now (having already suffered the inability to obtain information during the half term in the previous area last week - the head teacher could not have organised things less well if he had tried!). Not sure if we want to make anything of this if in fact anything can be made of it?
A referral did go to the Pupil Referral Unit as this happens automatically but apparently (at least in this LA) if a child is SEN then the referral is suspended until the LA SEN team have become involved!
We are receiving homework from the school working with the lad on this.
Starting to prepare for the Governors appeal next week and any suggestions on how to do that would be well received. The objective is to try to have the PE rescinded (an idea very helpfully suggested on this site) and to then highlight the failings of the head so no other parents or children should have to go through this. It is accepted he will no longer go to this school.
In the appeal then should we -
- provide a lot of detail about the background?
- be brief with just bullet points and allow then to ask?
- separate the desire to rescind the PE from the wish to complain about the head and raise a separate complaint later?
Does anyone know how long it takes for the Governor body to make a decision on these appeals and to advise parents? Is it straightforward then to go to an independent review?

Once again, thanks everyone for your help. We have not really got anywhere yet but the understanding of how it all fits together is becoming more clear.

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