Contact a Family needs help from parents caring for disabled children in England and Wales who may have been unofficially excluded from school.
The charity is asking parents to fill out its short survey to get a better picture of how widespread unofficial exclusions are for disabled school children in England and Wales, and how this type of exclusion can impact on family life: www.surveymonkey.com/s/contactafamily_unofficialexclusion2012.
Contact a Family’s unique SEN National Advice Service receives a number of queries each month from parents concerned that their child has been unofficially excluded from school.
Typical calls include parents called by school to pick their child up early because they are misbehaving, parents informed that their child should remain at home while the rest of the class take part in a planned activity, for example a school trip, or parents who are not consulted before the school puts their child on a part-time timetable.
However, a child can only be legally excluded from school for disciplinary reasons. In these cases Headteachers must formally tell parent carers that their child will be excluded by giving them the following details in writing: the reason for the exclusion and how long it will be for, information about parents’ rights to state their views about the exclusion and attend a School Governors’ hearing if relevant, that during school hours their child is not allowed in a public place for the first five days of the exclusion and the arrangements for provision of full time education from their child’s sixth day of exclusion.
Jill Davies from Contact a Family’s SEN National Advice Service says: “Because unofficial exclusions are not formally recorded by schools it is almost impossible to find out how widespread this practice is. There is also a real gap in understanding about how unofficial exclusions can affect a child’s self esteem and progress at school as well as a parent’s ability to work for example.
“Unofficial exclusions are unlawful – even if parents’ give their consent. If you are the parent or carer of a child who has a disability or medical condition and who has been unofficially excluded from a school in England or Wales please take five minutes to fill out our short survey (www.surveymonkey.com/s/contactafamily_unofficialexclusion2012)
“The information you provide will help inform Contact a Family’s campaigning work around this issue.”
Contact a Family is the only UK charity that provides vital support and information for families of disabled children whatever their condition or disability. Last year we helped 340,000 families to access life-changing help. Call the helpline 0808 808 3555 or visit the website www.cafamily.org.uk