School Inclusion not Exclusion by Beverley Walters, head of content for Tes SEN North

Hear from Beverley Walters, the head of content for Tes SEN North, about her inspiration for putting together this year's seminar programme with its core theme of inclusion.

Baroness Mary Warnock, the architect of SEN legislation placed the focus for effective teaching and support of children and young people with SEN in mainstream settings and on enabling those settings to develop an inclusive philosophy.

Developing inclusive practice is at the heart of the Tes SEN North 2019, which opens with the Keynote Panel Debate to engage the audience in debate around the relative impact of inclusion, exclusion and how we manage them both.

The current rate of school exclusion is in danger of undoing Baroness Warnock’s work to promote inclusive practice. Schools don’t exclude lightly and in 18 years of developing support for frontline teaching staff, I have learned never to underestimate the lengths most schools will go to, to support children and young people who challenge our systems and practices. Despite this, the number of permanent exclusions across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools has increased from 6,685 in 2015/16 to 7,720 in 2016/17. This corresponds to around 40.6 permanent exclusions per day in 2016/17, up from an average of 35.2 per day in 2015/16. Pupils with identified special educational needs (SEN) accounted for around half of all permanent exclusions (46.7 per cent) and fixed period exclusions (44.9 per cent). Pupils with SEN support had the highest permanent exclusion rate at 0.35 per cent. This was six times higher than the rate for pupils with no SEN (0.06 per cent). Pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or with a statement of SEN had fixed period exclusion rates over five times higher than pupils with no SEN. Find out how we begin to challenge this narrative and put children and young people with SEN on a level playing field with their peers, in the free-to-attend Keynote Panel Debate, in seminars and on the exhibition floor.

Having SEN puts a considerable proportion of pupils in our schools at a much higher risk of school exclusion compared to their non-SEN peers. School exclusion not only has the potential to impact negatively the education, well-being and self-esteem of children and young people but also can cause irreparable damage to their futures and their progress into adulthood. It impacts all involved including those excluded, their parents, carers, families, friends and relationships, teachers and the entire school workforce. Exclusion from school sends the message that problems can be solved by giving up or walking away and affirms to children and young people their status as a disengaged learner. Their entitlement, however, is to be an engaged learner, an active participant in a school community.

The focus of content for Tes SEN North 2019 is Inclusion not Exclusion and is dedicated to Baroness Mary Warnock 1924 – 2019.


Data taken from DfE Statistical First Release Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2016 to 2017. Published 19 July 2018. Last updated 6 August 2018