Academy put ‘zero-tolerance’ policy above pupil’s education, tribunal finds

Tes reports that a tribunal has criticised a school for putting its zero-tolerance behaviour policy above the education of a child with special needs.

After hearing a claim made by the parents of Hayden Damiral, a pupil with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a diagnosis of epilepsy, against Burnt Mill Academy, in Essex, the tribunal concluded that efforts to control the 15-year-old’s behaviour had compromised his education.

In its report, the panel said: “The question of Hayden’s actual education appears to have become secondary to the zero-tolerance policy of the school, in relation to his behaviour, with the result that a boy of average cognitive ability was not making the progress which potentially he could have been making.”

His parents had taken the school to tribunal, claiming that it had failed to meet the Year 10 pupil’s needs. The teenager had been given a fixed-term exclusion from school, as well as being excluded from a work placement. He was later permanently excluded.

The Burnt Mill Academy Trust, which runs the school, has stated in its behaviour policy that maintaining outstanding behaviour is a key priority. The policy adds that poor behaviour is a rarity and, when it is found, will be tackled by adults.

But the tribunal, which heard evidence last month, said: “The application of the behaviour policy, in relation to Hayden, was leading to increasing conflict, such that his education was becoming a series of…detentions and exclusions, which he was finding inexplicable.

“It was being imposed rigidly… Rather than continuing with this inflexible application of its policy, the [school] should have…to make reasonable adjustments for Hayden, who was being put at a substantial disadvantage.”

Read the full article Academy put ‘zero-tolerance’ policy above pupil’s education, tribunal finds

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Categories: Academies, Parenting, Primary, Secondary and SEN.


  1. Doug

    As an adult w ADHD (I wasn’t dx’d until about age 50… I’m 63 now), I’ve had to unlearn things, & teach an old doug new tricks (in case u didn’t catch it, I’m doug). They didn’t know about ADHD when I was young. Mix in being a survivor of early childhood abuse until about age 4 1/2, which caused me to literally fear my own shadow, but at same time that fear kept me from acting out on my impulsivity a lot… not always but point is, I cd have ended up a lot worse (“…for we know that He causes ALL things to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His good purpose…”), along w narcolepsy starting in the 9th grade (but also wasn’t officially dx’d until about age 50), & I was an all or nothing guy. I either had to stay busy w something (which may have contributed to being a workaholic among other things), or I was constantly nodding off.
    That said, my understanding of the ADA, as well as knowing that not all schools are equipped with adequate tools for dealing with kids w special needs, & NOT knowing the full story here (that is, does this child truly have ADHD or did someone just get a Dr to say he has it… yes folks, thst happens, especially when the parents want the meds), & if he truly has it, how is it being treated, ie w meds, diet, etc, & does this school specifically have a Spec Ed teacher or some kind of officially trained instructors who have an excellent knowledge of this disorder, or is this one of those entitlement scenarios where the parents put their child in a particular school bc they want them there bc it’s prestigious or whatever, not taking into acct the child’s needs, abilities, etc, & just assume they will be able to function in said environment?
    In other words there’s a lot to look at. How long has the kid been going to this… academy? If a long time, why did it take the parents so long to deal with this?
    Also, & it’s not to judge the parents but if this child truly has ADHD, if his Dr in communication w the school’s Spec Ed teacher & visa versa? If he’s on meds are there random tests to insure he’s taking his meds & not someone else?
    I say things like this bc there are parents who will tell the Dr the child’s doing great on his meds in order to get them & the child’s either been coached or is in fear to tell the Dr the truth, while at the same time they might be telling the school they either choose not to medicate him for their own reasons (like secretly taking it themselves… of course this never happens) or they say he’s taking it but it doesn’t help or he’s worse off the meds… you get the picture.
    Speaking of meds my alarm just went off to take my 2nd dose…
    Anyways I don’t know the full story here but it’s not just a matter of a school not doing it’s job. That’s the problem in our entitlementality society. We want, expect, demand, w/o any notion of personal responsibility, accountability, etc. We blame others, & sadly in the end the child suffers.
    It’s the problem w socialist (communist, progressive, etc) ideology that refuses to acknowledge individuals & individual achievements, differences (such as the insanity we are seeing now w all these newly created sexual identities which, sorry boys & girls but the simple fact is you’re born a boy or girl, w natural funtions which, if you choose to delineate from those natural functions then so be it but that shouldn’t entitle anyone to special treatment… & it absolutely shouldn’t be crammed down little kids throats in the public brainwashing I mean education system. Yet we’re in a society where an unborn animal has more rights than an unborn child & wonder why theses kids are committing such heinous crimes. & kids who can’t read, write, spell, speak basic English w/o sounding like a gutter full of swear words or that’s even comprehensible… all bc we’ve errantly put more emphasis on self-esteem instead of self-respect. They’re pushed along w passes bc they don’t want to offend the child by telling them the truth that they failed, bc we failed to learn from history which has taught us that failure is not the end but another stepping stone, that countless inventions & medical discoveries came, not as a result of a lot of successes but bc of a lot of failures. These kids can’t do the basics but we GRADUATE them bc they know how to put a condom on a pickle shown to them by a homosexual guest instructor back in kindergarten. We jump to conclusions bc we saw it on FB or the internet & assumed it was true, especially bc someone caught it on video, leaving out the fact thst there was a lot of other stuff going on that they either didn’t get on video or chose not to show it bc the real truth wd be exposed instead of the lie they were trying to promote, whether for attention or some political or racial agenda (& I’m talking all colors here bc I’ve seen it on all sides)… anyways just as there’s a lot that goes into making the right diagnosis of ADHD or anything for that matter, just like when I was a mechanic, fixing cars was the easy part… it was making the correct diagnosis that took time & effort…, so it is w commenting on this matter here. I’m not sure where the beginning parentheses is to this closing one so w that, I bid you adieu.)

  2. Doug

    Oops. It’s me again. I knew I forgot something. Regarding funding for schools & everyone blaming the gov’t or… what’s the new term I just saw… high tax parents…
    1. We need to get back to basics. We need to teach kids responsibility, about what’s expected in a constitutional republic (contrary to populist reeducation we are not a democracy & if they taught kids real history they’d understand the difference), moral absolutes, etc.
    2. WRT money, we need to get rid of the DOE which Pres Carter started, along w a ton of administrative personnel waste, & get the $$ back to the kids & teachers. Start there.
    The govt’s primary job is to protect our borders, not fund crucifixes in bottles of urine (yes folks, that’s just 1 of countless things your hard-earned taxpayer dollars go to fund.)
    So let’s get the gov’t back on track… of the people, by the people & for the people…
    Vote people in who will vote term limits on Congress. Demand it. If they don’t, if they won’t, then it’s just status quo. Pres Trump, regardless of what you think of him, was one of the best things to happen to us. A non-politician not controlled by the deep state or the swamp sent shivers down the backs of the establishment on both sides. If a non-politician cd win the top job other non-politicians cd win lower ofgices… ie theirs. That threatens their grip on power & control of the masses here. If you’re a liberal & think the right is evil, tell me what the Dems have done for the plight of the poor besides telling them they can’t do it on their own (thus calling their constituents stupid), that only gov’t handouts taken from others who work, are successful, can keep you going, thus enslaving you to them like indebted servitude? Who bankrupted the 1st American city? Who’s bankrupting other large American cities like Chicago, NYC, L.A., etc? Just saying. If you’re conservative, what have the Repubs done of late? They had the silver, gold, platinum AND diamond platters handed to them, & what did they do? Waffle! Demand better of these elected officials folks. Remind both sides that WE are their bosses & not the other way around. Demand term limits. Demand zero-budgeting, just like we have to run our households. Demand securing our borders as they are constitutionally required to. Demand protection of our constitutional rights, INCLUDING freedom of religion & speech, not caving in to socialism, progressivism, communism, etc.
    Sorry folks. I don’t know how I got off on that track. Oh yeah. Go take my meds.

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Doug i am the parent of this child and worked in education for 7 years. I have three children my eldest who also went to the same school and done very well there and is hoping after he has finished college to go to university. My youngest is 8yrs old and has worked on many projects unpaid through her acting to help raise awareness for the equality of conga and cancer. My children have been bought up to respect others and help people in need. We are from a large irish family all who are in the caring profession. While I agree there is a large amount of children who are bought up with no respect this is not always down to bad parenting as I have seen some fantastic parents with children who are unable to respect others and these children are struggling with either experiances they have been through, victims of bullying and other social influences. My son was diagnosed at a year old with epilepsy and Adhd / autistic traits at the age of eight and his promary school managed these needs with support from ourselves, fantastic teachers, education psycologist and other outside agencies and he achieved great sat results. Unfortunetly this did not continue in his secondary school which is in our catchment area. We offered the school advice and our full support. We as parents referred him ourselves to outside agencies who also gave the school advice on simple classroom practises that would not only support my son but other students within the class. The school has a senco and nurture group for the lower years but my son did not fit into the nurture group as his sat grades were good. Things did not get really bad until he was in year 9 after the loss of his nan to cancer and the new policy bought in with new head of zero tolerance while i agree there has to be good discipline in schools the zero tolerance policy was put to the extreme and children with neurological conditions were struggling. My case was not an isolated case and many parents were pushed into removing their children from this school and are now all doing fantastic in other schools so I wonder how can other schools with same resources /support manage the same children and get fantastic results. I believe this is because not all schools focus on being the top of the legue table but they balance getting goid results and doing right by each individual learner.
    My son is medicated but his epilepsy medication has side effects that paid a big part in my sons condition also the impact of problems with growth and puberty and how to manage his emotions due to losing one of the most closest people to him. Why did i not remove my son or take action until year 10 as i explained before this the zero tolerance policy was not in play and he had never been excluded until year 10 and within 4 months this turned to a permanent exclusion all incidents were extremly minor and while i believe he may have warrented a detention he did not deserve or warrent an exclusion and things the whole class were doing only my son was punished. He could of had a managed move to another school but the school chose exclusion which has destroyed my son he has not only mentally been effected by the treatment he recieved including the put downs, embarassing him in front of other peers , destroying his self esteem and belief in himself but he has also lost his education.
    I do not just blame the education system as i also believe policies within the government need to also change to protect our next generation of the work force and to prevent these children from having to claim benefits or use nhs services for mental health. My belief is schools are pressured into getting high results and to achieve higher each year and children with sen effect the schools results so many schools are using backdoor exclusions to remove these children as an aim of achieving the highest possible results with out thinking of the effects on these children and their families. Im hoping our case raises awareness for change within the law and nqt are given more indepth training in supporting children with nerological disorders. I appreciate all your comments but hope this has answered your questions kindest regards NDamiral

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