Do exclusions assist or hinder the education system? 

One day, in the future, I am certain we will look back at our education system and cringe.

Just like we do now when we think about how they used to discipline in the not-so-old times.

Every parent or grandparent can tell you a barbaric tale about themselves or someone they knew who got the cane. From being belted to strapped, to the Victorians’ use of the dunce’s cap, you name it and our education system has done it.

That’s without the most damaging use of punitive punishments – using humiliation.

I can recall an eleven year old boy in my French class (who was actually a low achiever and socially deprived); the teacher wanted to prove a lesson as he hadn’t done his homework.

He was told to stand up behind his desk and repeat after the battle-axe teacher, a delightful truncheon who bathed in Picasso perfume and had an out-dated perm, the following words:

“I am an inbecile and one day I’ll end up on the dole.”

The words could have been French for all we knew and I certainly didn’t understand the impact they would have. But the punishment for my peer would have been mentally ingrained.

The old crow never considered that if he could have done the homework then perhaps he would have.

Which leads me back to the subject of using exclusions. Who ever thought the idea up of using exclusions as a tool for discipline? Well, I’d like to stick that brainiac in the corner, facing just a wall for company and stick a hat on them with a capital D.

Excluding a child is not a magic wand to rid them of their unwanted behaviours. Sanctions like this only just fuel the fire because these kids already feel bad, we don’t need to add to that.

More often than not it sets the wheel of negativity to the point of no return – usually a permanent exclusion and often long-term psychological damage from the trauma occurred along the way.

If we look at statistics, a child with SEND is seven times more likely to be permanently excluded than a neurotypical child.

This is data straight from the Department of Education and I would guess the levels are much higher as not all children with SEND are adequately identified.

So does this mean that a child with SEND is seven times more likely to be badly misbehaved than the average child?

Or could it just really show that they are just part of a higher percentage of children whose needs are not being met in our out-dated education system? After all, behaviour is better understood as communication of unmet needs.

I have one of those children that make up the statistics.

She was just turned six when she got permanently excluded and it took months to talk about it openly.

Again, like so many other children or young people, she had an educational health care plan in place, which was supposed to identify her needs and prevent her school placement from failing.

A document I identified wasn’t working and asked to be reviewed eight months before – legally binding paperwork that felt like it really wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Lots of procrastination happened but very little action and in the mean time school gathered enough evidence they needed to feel they could justify a permanent exclusion.

I’m in the process of appealing this and although I can’t write too much pending the results of the independent hearing – a lot of new information has come to light. And, it wasn’t good from the school’s point of view.

Let’s just say when you’ve broken SEND laws and you try to cover your tracks it would be better to hold your hands up and accept the negligence. Certainly don’t fabricate evidence to prove your innocence.

At the trial I shook with a mixture of nerves and adrenaline – for the first time in two years the truth was being told.

I felt a weight had lifted off of my shoulders.

Its damaging on the soul when you know you’re being oppressed.

My case never fell apart and I didn’t stumble because it was the truth. Either way, it was singlehandedly one of the most traumatic things I have been through.

Sadly, I’m not alone and it is a common reality of the many loopholes us SEND parents find theirselves forced to go through just to find an adequate provision for our children.

When a child is prohibited from integrating with their peers, it doesn’t only affect the individual but their parents too. SEND parents are continuously excluded just like their children.

Ostracising an already vulnerable child (or family for that matter) just make the problems worse. It’s ludicrous this use of punishment still goes on when it’s quite clearly failing. If it worked then these kids would still be in school and the data for SEND exclusions would have fallen by now.

When will the government realise that our education system (that is still based on rewards, bribes and punishments) is simply outdated?

Maybe one day our grandchildren will come home from school and say: “Do you know what they did in the olden days?  They used to kick children, who were disabled, out of school and say they were naughty – it used to be called exclusions!”

“Yes, they did,” we reply. “Aren’t you lucky that you didn’t go to school back then?! It seems so barbaric now when you think about it.”

*This post was written two years ago and the permanent exclusion was lifted from my daughter’s file. The next post ‘Relight my school run’ covers the outcome from this case – a quick link can be found here.


  1. Sal

    There is nothing but truth in this post. This is us at the moment. The part where you spoke about not just segregating the child, but also the parent and the family is spot on. Such a hard time for so many family. It needs to get better. I hope one day it does.

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