Academies ‘illegally excluding’ vulnerable pupils

Sky News is reporting concerns about the way academies are excluding pupils, as campaigners accuse schools of disproportionately targeting those with special needs.

Department for Education figures suggest that exclusions by academies are more likely to be overturned by an independent review panel.

Two-thirds of exclusions by academies were not upheld – 6% higher than at government-maintained schools.

The Government’s figures also show that children with special needs accounted for 70% of all exclusions.

Although there is no evidence that the overall number of pupils being excluded is higher among academies, campaigners believe academies are more likely to use illegal exclusions…

The Communities Empowerment Network has claimed many academies are not following due process – and alleged several practise illegal exclusions.

Its director, Deuan German, said: “Academies definitely have got to perform. They’ve got to be shown to be performing, and that’s how they maintain their academy status and get to open other branches in their chain.

“Unfortunately, in order to do that, they are choosing to exclude some of the more vulnerable pupils – pupils with special education needs or behavioural problems…”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have given head teachers more powers to tackle poor behaviour and have ensured they have the confidence to exclude pupils when it is necessary.

“Schools have a clear legal duty not to discriminate against pupils and are held to account by Ofsted for their use of exclusion powers – they and the Department take any misuse of these powers seriously and have shown we will not hesitate to take action…”

More at: Academies ‘Illegally Excluding’ Vulnerable Pupils


The campaigners are targeting academies but the figures quoted only suggest academies are more likely to have appeals against their exclusions upheld by a relatively small amount so if this is an issue, it seems like it could be as issue across all schools.

What do you think? Are academies (or perhaps all kinds of schools) too quick to exclude pupils with special needs? And are too many failing to adhere to the correct legal process?

Please tell us what you think in the comments or via Twitter… 


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  1. A OSullivan

    TES & HMI might want to investigate the online evidence of academies / federations who have so far got away with removing behaviourally challenging pupils (e.g. relocating or enforcing them to stay at home) purely as a result of Ofsted visit. No-notice inspections would change this.

  2. Britinfloridaus

    6% is not that much higher, bearing in mind that at secondary level (where the majority of permanent exclusions take place) are now in the majority.

  3. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove Check the rising note of hysteria as the madder features of the #GreatEducationHoax are called into question. #GroupThink

  4. The article differentiates between academies and ‘government maintained schools’.Sky doesn’t appear to understand that academies are ‘government maintained’ (ie state-funded’).  Perhaps it means ‘local authority maintained’ – disappointing Sky reporters don’t seem to understand the difference.

  5. HMStack

    SchoolsImprove Good to report on this problem, the true scale of which I suspect is yet to be revealed. An area of grave concern.

  6. motiv8222

    SchoolsImprove what happens when students are excluded from an academy … They become the responsibility of the LEA… Hardly fair is it.

  7. Britinfloridaus

    I had taken it to mean LA maintained schools.  Janet – you and I may know the difference, but millions don’t.

  8. JuliaTugwell

    My son was repeatedly excluded from his secondary school. He has Aspergers and was in a very anxious state due to my recent cancer diagnosis and treatment. I was a governor at the time and complained about the way he had been treated. Funnily enough the chair of governors decided not to uphold my complaint, but did decide that i was no longer welcome as a governor. Due to my illness and stress of treatment I didn’t fight further. I should of done. The Head of inclusion told me that ‘It was a mainstream school not a special school and she did not get paid enough to deal with his behaviour’ 
    I have been a primary school teacher for nearly 20 years and luckily have spent the majority of my career in schools who embrace their inclusion policies, rather than just see them as ‘policy box to tick’. I asked for a freedom of information act from my LA regarding ASD children and exclusions and it showed them to be excluded at a far higher percentage than their non ASD peers.

    It’s rife. 

    The other thing I asked for as a FOI request was whether the LA had to be informed of school complaints and their outcomes by schools. The answer was no. So Academies may be doing this but it has been going on for much longer. 

    A legacy of ‘corporate, paper pusher’ teachers who would rather brown nose league tables than care about the pupils who pay their wages.

  9. Davis77Alex

    SchoolsImprove “Schools are choosing to exclude students with behavioural problems”. Why else would you exclude?

  10. JoSanger

    My sons school changed to a academy, the has adhd, asd and statement, they isolated him, sent him to pru, excluded him, permanently excluded him,joke of a system, used withdrawn exclusion guidance jan 2015, to get rid!!

  11. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove This looked like an interesting article until I read it and found out that the headline was unproven

  12. A_Mary_Queen

    SchoolsImprove the article categorically states they have no evidence for this. On the other hand, schools have been doing this for years.

  13. chiv100

    My daughter is 9 and is awaiting formal diagnosis of asd already diagnosed SPD. She has been repeatedly excluded. We are on our 7th school. She was excluded 5 times in the first half term of this school year. I keep asking for ehc and I’m told not enough evidence.

  14. JoSanger

    Not good for such a young child, my son was ok in primary school, but secondary school, as academy different, no understanding, just excluded him, isolated, sent to pru, is not violent, but permanently excluded him for non compliance, now home education, this went on three years, since exclusion guidance 2012 was in force for academies to misuse

  15. Josanger3

    motiv8222 TimAnchorhouse @SchoolsImp academies take sen funding from la and la responsible for alternative education after exclusion

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