Despite being a passionate advocate for vulnerable young people, sometimes decisions have to be made that result in even students with statements of SEN being excluded.
I have been working with a young female student in Year 8. She is a looked after child (LAC) and has a Statement of SEN for complex needs, SpLD (specific learning difficulties) and behavioural problems — all of which are tied in to the complexities that come with being taken into care. She has a lot going for her but the social circumstances that she’s grow up in have resulted in a lack of positive role models to show her that school and basic social compliance are important.
I have tried to steer the ‘tough line’ between understanding her needs and whole-school considerations, but on several occasions a fixed-term exclusion has been a necessary result.
An article in the TES last Friday (New law would make exclusion of SEN children more difficult, Kerra Maddern, 15th May) raised the issue of students with SEN being excluded. This is not a straightforward issue, but the outweighing priority must be for all students to feel safe and secure in their learning environment — whatever their needs.
I will always continue to be a strong advocate for those with SEN, but sometimes you have to make all parties realise that having a specific need does not put you above the law — be it school rules and regulations or the laws that support the society in which we live.
I think there is a lot of new legislation to come through on this issue; it needs revision in order to accommodate the different needs of the 21st Century child. All students need a level and fair playing field, especially those with SEN, but it is important that mechanisms that are put in place ensure that students with specific needs get equality, and are not unduly protected from the realities of social acceptability.