At 06:27 and five more times this morning, BBC Scotland News headlined:
‘Over a third of children with autism have been unlawfully excluded from school in the past two years’
There you have it – this morning’s daily dose of scaremongering to keep No voters in their pens. I’ve searched and searched but cannot find the report commissioned by three charities, on their sites, on the BBC website or anywhere at all. I’m itching to assess it! Dear readers, let me know if you can. It wouldn’t be the first time that one of you demonstrates superior information skills here.
Anyhow, see that ‘unlawfully’ there? That’s a serious accusation to be making especially when there’s no apparent source to check for it’s reliability and methods. Schools can, of course lawfully exclude pupils. Here’s the National Autistic Society’s own definition:
What is an exclusion?
The law states that a school or local authority can tell a pupil they can’t attend school if:
- their parent is not following school rules, or is not allowing their child to follow them
- by staying in school the pupil would affect the school’s order and discipline, or the other pupils’ educational well-being.
This may be because:
- of a pupil’s behaviour
- an incident has taken place
- a staff member who works with your child is unavailable
- of health and safety reasons.
If you are told that your child can’t attend school, they have been excluded.
The school or local authority may use other terms, such as expulsion, cooling-off period or sending a pupil home. No matter what term is used, you should consider your child excluded from school.
All exclusions should be formally recorded and set procedures followed.
I really want to see what the unlawful exclusions were.
Though unable to find the source for the BBC Scotland story, I did find this, strangely (?), in the Sunday National two days ago:
‘The Scottish school system is failing our autistic children’. Young people with autism are being failed by schools across Scotland because they are not putting in place the support to help pupils with additional needs meet their academic potential, it has been claimed. Charities and legal experts said “urgent changes” were needed to give children with autism and other learning disabilities adequate support at school.
There is only anecdotal evidence from one or two individuals here and absolutely no sign of the kind of empirical evidence you’d need to back up that headline. This kind of thing and the regular ‘critical’ commentaries by Fry, McKenna and Boyd, make me suspicious that the National may be a kind-of supporter of the campaign for Scottish independence but remains too-wedded to notions of journalistic independence to avoid harming it.