In my work as a SEND specialist, I am very aware of the disparate needs of children, and the challenge of supporting them effectively so they can achieve their true potential. It’s not impossible though to achieve great things with these amazing youngsters, and I am proud to be working with schools to help them with strategies, training and advice in an effort to minimise, even eradicate the need for exclusions.

Sadly, the trend for exclusions for SEND children is on the rise, which is why I’m keen to promote awareness and share helpful interventions to support schools.

It is important for all of us to understand the root causes for disruptive behaviour as pupils are at a higher risk of exclusion if their needs are not understood.

Guidance tells us that you need to be able to demonstrate that you have done everything possible to avoid exclusion. When you are reflecting on your decision-making process, it may be helpful to consider these five areas:

  1. Understand the importance of inclusivity in your policies and practices
    • Do you have a whole school approach to inclusion, with all staff being aware of additional support and intervention needed for specific pupils?
    • Is there a shared understanding and consistent approach across the whole staff team?
    • Are your staff non-judgmental with unconditional positive regard for all pupils?
    • Are all children’s successes, however small, amplified and promoted?
  2. Ensure all staff have a good understanding of SEN issues and appropriate provision
    • Do you encourage early identification of behaviour issues and are any underlying medical needs investigated?
    • Are timely assessments carried out to enable interventions to be put in place that support a pupil to be successful in school?
    • Are learning and social and emotional needs being identified before they manifest as challenging behaviours that could lead to exclusions?
    • Do teachers give all children effective feedback and encouragement, thereby helping pupils to build on their skills, feel more confident and improve their individual success?
    • Is there a structure to each day, and a predictable environment, enabling children to feel safe and nurtured, and in a place where they feel calm and ready to learn?
  3. Seek professional support at an early stage
    • Are you aware of the support that is available to you?
    • Have you drawn upon the expertise of a team of external professionals for support and advice, ensuring their recommendations are implemented, measured and shared?
    • Are staff aware of how to adapt resources, teaching and the environment as appropriate?
  4. Include parents and carers in monitoring and managing their child’s needs
    • Do you have a child-centred family approach with close liaison between parents and the school?
    • Are parents and carers asked to share their knowledge and experience of the child, including details of birth and early development?
    • Are they kept informed where there is a risk of exclusion?
  5. Monitor and keep track of behaviour incidents and exclusions
    • Are you monitoring and analysing your exclusion data?
    • Have you identified the most vulnerable individuals, and highlighted whether there are any hotspots, such as a particular subject, member of staff, or time of day when a child’s behaviour becomes more challenging?
    • Have you used this to inform CPD and organisational changes?
    • Are aspirations high for all pupils, with strengths as well as difficulties being recognised?

It is so important that all professionals in schools and children’s services work together to reverse this concerning increase in the number of exclusions for children with SEND.

I have explored this topic more in a recent podcast interview with Mental Health in Schools specialist, Anna Bateman of Halcyon Education. We also discussed in more detail the links between SEND and SEMH and the importance of collaboration between the SEND and mental health leads in school to ensure all pupils requiring assistance receive the right support, tailored to their individual needs.

You can listen to this podcast here.

With a more proactive approach to supporting every SEND pupil in the way that they need, I believe we can start to reverse the trend of increasing exclusions. I am on a mission to achieve a significant reversal in all of the schools I work with, and would be happy to work with you too, to put strategies in place that can make a real difference. Feel free to get in touch.