Academies and free schools denying SEND

Government education policy is now focussed on how schools perform in league tables based on exam results. They are not judged on the individual progress of pupils or the support they give to SEND children.

Consequently, many academies and free schools, supposedly centres of educational excellence, have been accused of refusing to admit SEN pupils or shunting them off to other less well performing schools, as they fear their league table academic performance would be blighted by less able SEN pupils.

In spite of MPs and Peers being assured that there would be parity between independent and maintained schools on the SEN issue during the passage of the Academies Act in 2010, it seems the rights of special needs and disabled pupils are not the same as those enjoyed by those in the state maintained sector.

A good example of this prejudice is Mossbourne Community Academy, which used its independent status to avoid taking in a child with cerebral palsy:

Academies' refusal to admit pupils with special needs prompts legal battles

Here are some other scandalous examples:

Academies turn away children with special needs to 'cherry-pick' pupils, charity warns

Academy trust accused of discriminating against disabled pupils

Secret Teacher: our obsession with targets is hurting vulnerable pupils

As one commentator has observed:

“If people don't complain, academy schools will be able to get away with cutting corners and manipulating their intakes via admissions and exclusions. The schools that will have to pick up the pieces will be the local maintained schools whose successes in performance compared to academies, seems even more admirable given they are not competing on a level playing field.”