Special needs admissions concerns at ‘minority’ of Lincolnshire schools

Coun Colin Davie.
Coun Colin Davie.

Special needs students are being dissuaded from attending a ‘minority’ of Lincolnshire schools because of government pressure to meet attainment targets, a report has revealed.

Lincolnshire County Council’s children and young persons scrutiny committee spent nine months scrutinising schools’ admissions policies to ensure young people were not disadvantaged in their education.

Although no evidence was found that admissions policies were being breached, the committee felt there was a risk some schools may ‘steer’ certain students away, prior to admission.

Committee member and ward holder for Ingoldmells Rural Coun Colin Davie said: “The committee is concerned that some schools may be pressured towards breaching the admissions code and this will not be tolerated.

“Any schools undertaking illegal practices will be reported to the secretary of state.

“We want every child in Lincolnshire to receive the education they are entitled to without any bias from any provider.”

Anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers suggested that a minority of schools were persuading special education needs children to attend other schools, to help them meet the government’s national floor targets.

One headteacher told the committee about a mother and daughter on witness protection who suffered an ‘horrendous’ experience visiting a school.

The headteacher said: “The mum had said that by the time they got half way round the first corridor it was clear they did not want us as we had problems.

“There is a perceived undue pressure on parents to leave or not to go to the school in the first.”

The report also claims a number of schools may be using illegal methods of ‘unofficially excluding’ pupils by asking parents to keep their child at home and suggesting they move to another school for a ‘fresh start’ to avoid formal exclusions.

The committee has recommended that future admissions and exclusions data be monitored to ensure no children are disadvantaged.

With many of the problems attributed to the pressures of government floor standards, the committee also agreed to highlight its concerns to the secretary of state for education.

The committee has not revealed the ‘minority’ of schools which it believes are dissuading special needs students from attending.