Exclusions – Are They Barbaric? 

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, our education system has done it.

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

I can recall an eleven year old boy in my French class, who was actually a low achiever and 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 (who at the time 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’ve been French for all we knew and I certainly didn’t understand the impact they would have but the punishment for him would’ve been mentally ingrained.

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

Which leads me back to the subject of using exclusions.

Who ever thought the idea up of using exclusions as a tool for discipline?

I know let’s segregate you, that’ll teach you a lesson.  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.

Sanctions like this only just fuel the fire because these kids already feel bad, we don’t need to add to that.

Excluding a child is not a magic wand to rid them of their unwanted behaviours.

More often than not it sets the wheel of negativity to the point of no return – this being a permanent exclusion and long-term psychological damage.

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

This is data straight from the Department of Education and my guess is that the levels are much higher as not all children with SEN are identified.

So does this mean then that a child with SEN 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 anyway.

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

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

More alarming then that she has an educational health care plan in place – a legally binding agreement drawn up for school to follow so that they can meet her needs to ensure this doesn’t happen.

A document I identified wasn’t working and asked to be reviewed eight months before.

Lots of procrastination happened but very little action and in the mean time school gathered enough evidence they needed to 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 SEN 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 loopholes the army of SEN parents find theirselves forced to go through.

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

Ostracising an already vulnerable child (or family for that matter) just makes 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 SEN exclusions would have fallen by now.

Maybe one day our grandchildren will come home from school and say:

“Do you know what they did in the old days?  They used to kick the disabled children out of school and say they were naughty – it used to be called exclusions!”

My word, those were barbaric times, lucky we don’t discriminate like that now.


  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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