My son is being assessed for autism at my initiation and pursuit. He is in year 1. I have older children on the spectrum so have an awareness of the signs and traits. I pursued a private assessment whilst waiting for the NHS assessment because I am aware of the dragged out process from past experience. Both adhd and autism were reported as highly likely.
The report was shared with school But he had been subtle in his behaviours there up until a recent transition into breakfast club. Anxiety took over him and the fight or flight response kicked in (and out!). He was excluded permanently after 3 short weeks. 3 weeks which were disruptive for him due to the Xmas timetable at school, resulting in frequent room alterations - where he did not cope due to joining different children as clubs (infants and juniors) combined to share facilities.
Breakfast club felt they could no longer meet his needs and suggested he needed 1:1 provision. I know school have forced their hand. The club is a separate business from the school but run on their premises. On his last day at the breakfast club he had a meltdown because his safe space had been taken by two other children. He ran off around school with me in toe trying to help him. He threw chairs and pencil pots. Teaching staff came and shouted at him to stop. Then told me I needed to take him home - whilst he continued to kick and punch me (clearly I could do very little with him at that moment and just needed to keep him contained and safe). I felt like they might as well have waded in aswell the way they looked at us and spoke to us. I was scolded at because he was in a teachers classroom before 8:50am (I was invited to take him in by said teacher) but this made me feel like they didn’t care because their job starts at 8:50am anything outside of that - tough luck when a child and mother were very clearly in need of help not judgement. Later that day I received a phone call from breakfast club to say he was excluded.
To me he has been excluded due to his disability. One which with time could have been supported and successfully achieved - once he had established a relationship with his key worker. Is this not discrimination??
How do parents work if they have disabled children? My job was already term time to suit.
Sorry for the journal! And thanks in advance
Given the school’s awareness of disability and that apparently no reasonable adjustments were made for your son in order to assist him with these difficulties before jumping to exclusion, then yes, I would describe this as disability discrimination.
You mention a couple of things in your post - frequent room alterations, lack of safe space - that you are clearly aware cause particular difficulty for your son. I would suggest making a list of these things and then demanding to discuss them with the school, mentioning to them their legal responsibility to provide reasonable adjustments under the Equity Act. If they still failed to make any adjustments I would then make the demands in writing, you could then ultimately escalate this with an advocate or legal action if necessary.
Without reasonable adjustments your son is quite simply being denied equal treatment. I would highlight this to the school and the fact that your son/the school would no doubt face less difficulties from his behaviour should suitable adjustments be made for his needs. Certainly, in these circumstances they need to try adjustments before concluding that exclusion is the only option.
I do hope you make some positive progress with this.
Hello, Here are a couple of organisations that should be able to help you:
It may be worth looking at this site as well. Ambitious About Autism
All the best, Graham.
Thankyou for your reply. I believe it is discrimination and wanted to confirm . Would this be true even though he has not been formally diagnosed? He has a private pre-diagnostic assessment which highlighted both asd and adhd.
School have completed screening questionnaires so are more than aware of the process and have had a copy of the private report findings.
I have been very proactive with communication right from when he started reception, increasingly so this year as the transition into year one has highlighted (for me) more of his needs.
I have highlighted a need for a safe space for him and the need for a weighted blanket and ear defenders verbally. However, I was told by the deputy head teacher (also responsible for “behaviour”!) that his needs were a breakfast club issue and they didn’t want it crossing over into school. This was after they had “positively handled” him because he had scaled the toilet cubicle in one of his “fight/flight” episodes-he ran off to the toilets locked the door and they attempted to open the lock, so he scaled the cubicle door to the next toilet. I suggested a safe space might help avoid this happening again.
I am waiting for the exclusion in writing and then will consider taking it further - it is unacceptable for us to be treated in this way. The impact of no childcare will result in me having to quit work, which will obviously impact the whole family.
Thankyou for your reply, I will indeed seek support from the organisations you have signposted.
With the breakfast club being separate to the school, they are well within their right to say they cannot meet his needs. If it were part of the school then they may have been able to do more to make it something he could access. The breakfast club will have a ratio of staff for the club. If your son were to run off when you weren't there then they would need 2 staff to go after him. Without funding this just wouldn't be possible. The school can't do anything about it for a separate club. You would need to speak to those responsible for the club. The local authority might be able to help.
It can be hard to make adjustments for these things when a child is not diagnosed as the school needs money in order to do these things. They can apply for emergency funding if it is becoming problematic.
It is not fair of the school not to help you in that situation. You shouldn't be made to feel like that when you obviously needed help.
Yes, it’s still discrimination whether there is a formal diagnosis or not - the Equality Act sets out that the laws apply if the ‘A knows, or should reasonably have known that B has a disability’. This being so vague, it even can apply if a person shows repeated symptoms of a disability (that they may be unaware of themselves). I think it is clear in this case that this criteria is met given the pre-.assessment, your son’s behaviour and your personal knowledge of ASD traits.
It sounds like you’re doing everything right but the school aren’t being very helpful, and aren’t recognising your son’s needs when in their care. So hopefully escalating things will get the to do their part. I realise I forgot to mention in my earlier post that Citizens Advice should be able to assist you with this also.
Hi, if the breakfast club is run separately from the school you would need to pursue discrimination with them as in essence it sounds like they just use the school building. This was the case with my sons breakfast/ after school club although it was on school grounds it was different staff and nothing to do with the school.
It does sound like discrimination but I'm not sure the links for inclusion in education would be any use as breakfast clubs are not education. You may have grounds in that they accepted your son knowing of his condition but I'm not sure you have quite the same rights
I would check what the provision states is available for children in your sons situation if they advertise that they cater for all then you may still be able to complain, check with local authorities but I think private breakfast clubs have control over who they accept.
You may be right “I think private breakfast clubs have control over who they accept” and I want to investigate and challenge this if it is the case...can we imagine a country in which this would be acceptable in other forms of discrimination? There would be uproar and rightly so, equally my son has a right to be treated fairly with reasonable adjustments made.
Schools are required to be accessible under the Sen code of practice- ramps and lifts are required by law in new or updated buildings, Braille is located around the school, disabled toilets etc I want to see the same for safe spaces in schools for our children.
They are still required to comply with the Equality Act and they can’t refuse to accept a child based purely on factors related to a disability (that they should reasonably know about) - that’s what discrimination is.
On the other hand, they are only obliged to provide ‘reasonable’ adjustments, and that can be open to interpretation...
I agree that services should be accessible for all and that they should not discriminate, I just wasn't sure if it fell into the same category as education rights
Definitely check with your local authority
I wish you and your son luck!