Landmark ruling on exclusion of disabled pupils from schools

Published: 14 Aug 2018

Thousands of children whose disability means that they have ‘a tendency to physically abuse’ will now be properly protected from discrimination in schools after a landmark ruling in the Upper Tribunal.

We used our powers under Section 28 of the Equality Act 2006 to fund an appeal brought by the parents of a 13-year-old boy with special educational needs, known as ‘L’, who was excluded from school due to behaviour which was linked to his autism.

The Upper Tribunal has now ruled that provisions in the Equality Act, which meant that schools were not required to make reasonable adjustments to support children in these circumstances, are unlawful.

Responding to the judgment, Melanie Field, Executive Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

'The level of exclusions of pupils with a special educational need or disability has risen dramatically in the last few years and they are now almost seven times more likely to be permanently excluded than other pupils. We funded this case as we were concerned that children whose disability can result in them being more likely to be aggressive were being unfairly denied access to education.

'We are delighted with this judgment which will require schools to make reasonable adjustments to try to prevent or manage challenging behaviour and justify that any exclusion in these circumstances is proportionate. This is a positive step towards ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential through education and increasing the inclusion of disabled children in mainstream education.'

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