Education Authorities Skirt "Special Needs" Law, Leaked Letter
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 15, 2005
LONDON, ENGLAND--Thousands of students with disabilities in England and Wales are being "excluded", meaning expelled or suspended, from school because local education authorities are finding ways to get around -- or break -- the law, according to The Observer.
The paper claims to have seen a leaked, confidential letter written by Ian Coates, head of the Department for Education and Skills' special educational needs and disability division, that was sent three weeks ago to all chief education officers and directors of children's services.
In the letter, Coates reportedly admits that authorities are guilty of deliberately breaking the law, forcing up to 20,000 "special needs" children to be excluded from school every day.
Coates said in the letter that the needs of some children are not being assessed properly or at all so education officials can avoid serving them. One local authority is now being investigated for refusing to label students as 'dyslexic' unless their reading, writing and spelling scores are all five years below their chronological age.
The Observer noted that recent statistics show two-thirds of permanent exclusions, or expulsions, involve children with disabilities.
"When these children don't get the classroom support they need, their behavior can become too disruptive and the children end up being sent home," responded John Wright, of the Independent Panel For Special Educational Needs, a parent advocacy organization.
"Scandal of secret school exclusions" (The Observer)