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The news of the 1st August 2000 regarding the new powers of the use of exclusion for head teachers could have major implications for children with ADD/ADHD.
The new guidelines give head teachers the right to exclude more children who are disrupting the life of the school.
Schools Minister Jacqui Smith told delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) annual conference on the 1st August, that new guidance for exclusion appeal panels makes clear that headteachers must have the power to exclude violent or very disruptive pupils.
The new guidance says that appeal panels should not normally reinstate a pupil who has been permanently excluded for -
It also makes clear that where a head has excluded a pupil, in line with an explicit discipline policy, the appeal panel should not normally direct re-instatement.
According to the DfEE website report, Jacqui Smith said: "Our approach to school exclusions is to give headteachers the powers they need to tackle a variety of discipline problems. That means that heads must be able to get disruptive pupils out of the classroom quickly, using on-site units where appropriate. Where heads need to exclude for more serious offences, the excluded pupil will receive a proper education in off-site Pupil Referral Units.
"It is right that parents have some recourse to appeal where their child is excluded, but it is equally important that the needs of all other children at the school are met. "We will be providing training for appeal panel members to ensure the changes we are proposing are implemented.
"There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about the rights of headteachers to exclude permanently where necessary, nor of the Government's clear commitment to providing proper funding for appropriate in-school and out-of-school units to help teachers ensure that disruptive pupils are not kept in the classroom.
"Spending through the Standards Fund on truancy, discipline and the education of excluded children has grown from £17 million in 1996/97 to £140 million in this financial year. At Easter we announced plans to have over 1,000 on-site learning support units within the next two years. The extra money means there are more off-site units and there has been an increase of 250 qualified teachers in pupil referral units with students on roll up from 7,500 to 8,500 since 1997.
"By 2002 all excluded pupils will be offered a full-time education rather than the cursory few hours a week that was all too common in the past. Excluded pupils will continue their education rather than causing havoc on the streets."
"Provision for excluded pupils is now funded properly for the first time. Our policy supports better discipline in schools, allows heads to exclude permanently where they need to, and makes sure excluded pupils are educated."
"Today's guidance makes abundantly clear - appeal panels should concentrate on genuine cases where exclusion has been used inappropriately, not on rewriting clearly understood school discipline policies."
Caroline Hensby of adders.org commented: "Although I can see the reasons and accept that a number of the issues warrant such serious interventions I can see this leading to situations where children with ADHD and related conditions could become innocent victims.
The first three points of the document are without doubt a necessary part to ensure the safety of all pupils and staff but the fourth point, which says:
"persistent and malicious disruptive behaviour including open defiance or refusal to conform with agreed school policies on, for example, discipline or dress code."
has various meanings depending on how the head teacher wishes to interpret it.
We already have Codes of Conduct and Behaviour Policies to ensure that disruptive pupils are monitored and already lead to many fixed term or permanent exclusions.
However, it is my belief that due to the nature of ADHD a number of our children are targeted unfairly and that the new guidelines will make it more and more difficult for these children to get a fair hearing.
We all know that children diagnosed with ADHD have poor attention skills and find the current methods of teaching hard to follow. This can lead to them being disruptive and generally appear to be blatantly disregarding the rules. However this can normally be attributed to their frustration at not being able to fit in and to their having missed certain instructions when they have not been attending adequately.
Will we now see these children discriminated against due to their condition?
Is this an easy option for schools to remove our special children from their registers to help them gain higher results in the school league tables?
I believe that the new guidelines will severely hamper the education of children with ADHD and that there will be more permanent exclusions. Unless we can educate the educators, to understand more about the condition and to realise that these children are not deliberately disruptive but that it is their cry for more help in the classroom environment.
We need to learn to teach children in the best ways for them to be able to learn and to succeed.
Caroline Hensby for adders.org
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