Landmark legal case on challenging behaviour and exclusion

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Court decides exclusions are unlawful


Children and young people with PDA or other forms of autism, or indeed other special educational needs, can struggle with behaviour which challenges. Our Being Misunderstood survey showed that almost 1 in 10 had experienced permanent exclusion at some stage.

This has been possible because schools have said that the 'tendency to physically abuse' makes these young people exempt from the equality laws which otherwise would require reasonable adjustments to be made.

The National Autistic Society and the Equality and Human Rights Commission supported a test case which was brought by the parents of a 13 year old with a PDA profile of autism.

The judge said that ‘Excluding such children often has a massive impact upon them. They may have struggled to find school placements in the first place and if excluded may struggle to find them again.’

“In my judgment the Secretary of State has failed to justify maintaining in force a provision which excludes from the ambit of the protection of the Equality Act children whose behaviour in school is a manifestation of the very condition which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. In that context, to my mind it is repugnant to define as ‘criminal or anti-social’ the effect of the behaviour of children whose condition (through no fault of their own) manifests itself in particular ways so as to justify treating them differently from children whose condition has other manifestations.”

This is a landmark ruling which should mean that schools no longer have the right to make exclusions in the way they have been doing in recent years. For further information please see article in the Law Gazette.
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