“Change of approach needed” to see fewer ALN pupils excluded

Children with ALN (Additional Learning Needs) are being significantly over-represented in permanent and fixed term exclusions from Wales’ schools, according to data obtained by the Welsh Conservatives.

Pupils with ALN made up 80% of all permanent exclusions from Welsh primary schools and 44% of secondary exclusions.

For fixed term exclusions, of the 2,709 exclusions from Welsh primary schools, 2,382 were children with ALN – 87.9% of the total. This was highest in Swansea (96.9%) and lowest in Monmouthshire (56.2%).

For fixed term exclusions in secondary schools, of the 10,579 exclusions, 6,758 were children with ALN – 63.8% of the total. This was highest in Ceredigion (89%) and lowest in Conwy (42.3%).  

In Special Schools, children with ALN made up 97.9% of all fixed term exclusions and 86.9% from Pupil Referral Units.

Of all fixed term exclusions, 350 were looked-after children.

The (most recent) figures were revealed in response to a Written Assembly Question from Welsh Conservative Angela Burns AM. She said a “change of approach was necessary”.

 She continued:

“These figures are worrying since they suggest that exclusions are not being used as a matter of last resort, but as the norm for children with ALN.

“There needs to be an urgent overhaul in how educational staff deal with ALN pupils who are disruptive, and realise they do not necessarily behave in that way through choice.

“Welsh Government must now work with local authorities and schools to ensure that this number starts to drop to ensure that ALN pupils don’t miss out on an education and that teachers are trained to deal with disruptive pupils and not have to use exclusions so often.

Shadow Education Secretary Darren Millar AM commented:

“The fact that pupils with additional needs are massively over-represented in school exclusion figures is something that needs addressing immediately.

“There needs to be greater understanding of those with ALN – and indeed looked-after children – for staff to bring a holistic approach to teaching and discipline.

“This isn’t about simply letting behavioural standards slip, but learning from best practice to keep as many children in school as possible.

“So let’s have a constructive discussion across levels of government to get exclusions down across-the-board and use suitably different methods to discipline ALN pupils rather than exclusion.”