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School absences and exclusions experienced by children with learning disabilities and autistic children in 2016/17 in England

Chris Hatton (Centre for Disability Research, Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 2 November 2018

Issue publication date: 12 December 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine data on absences and exclusions from school amongst children with learning disabilities and autistic children in England in 2016/2017.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were drawn from Department for Education statistics for the school year 2016/2017 on school absences (authorised and unauthorised) and school exclusions (fixed-period and permanent) for children in the primary special educational needs categories of moderate learning difficulty (MLD), severe learning difficulty (SLD), profound and multiple learning difficulty (PMLD) and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

Findings

Authorised school absence rates were higher for all groups of children investigated compared to children without special educational needs, primarily due to illnesses and health-related appointments. Rates of unauthorised school absences were low. Rates of fixed-period and permanent school exclusions were higher for children with MLD and ASD compared to children without SEN, and lower for children with SLD and PMLD. Reasons given for exclusions were similar across children (persistent disruptive behaviour, physical assault against a pupil, verbal abuse against an adult), although physical assault against an adult was also commonly mentioned for children with SLD, PMLD or ASD.

Social implications

Reducing school absences for children with learning disabilities and autistic children will involve co-ordination of health and social care support arrangements to ensure they are convenient and efficient for children and families. In terms of exclusions, schools need to consider the extent to which they are making reasonable adjustments for children with learning disabilities and autistic children.

Originality/value

This paper presents in one place statistics concerning school absences and school exclusions for children with learning disabilities and autistic children in England.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The writing of this paper has been supported by Public Health England, as part of the work of the Public Health England Learning Disabilities Observatory. Views expressed in this paper are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Public Health England.

Citation

Hatton, C. (2018), "School absences and exclusions experienced by children with learning disabilities and autistic children in 2016/17 in England", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 207-212. https://doi.org/10.1108/TLDR-07-2018-0021

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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