What we asked for

  1. The education system must be set up so mainstream schools and further education provision fully include children and young people with a learning disability
  2. That no child or young person with a learning disability should face being illegally excluded from their school 
  3. That young people should be supported to gain the right skills to prepare them for adulthood and have access to learning opportunities throughout their lives 
  4. Learning disability awareness must be taught in all schools, so children understand why it is wrong to target someone for having a learning disability

Key stats

  • There are 1.8 million pupils in England with Special Educational Needs (SEN), of which 234,000 have a diagnosis associated with learning disability
  • Pupils with SEN are eight times more likely to be permanently excluded than their peers who do not have these needs (Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, 2012)
  • Young people with a learning disability are 3 times more likely to not be in education, employment and training (NEET) than young people without a learning disability.

Dee and Jack's story: education

There are 1.8 million pupils in England with Special Educational Needs (SEN), of which 234,000 have a diagnosis associated with learning disability. 

All children have the right to a good education. But too many children with a learning disability, like Jack, are being failed. 

Hear from Dee and Jack

I will carry on fighting so the children of the future with learning disabilities, don’t have to wear the same shoes that we have.

Most days Jack was dropped off at the school door and I hadn’t even got down to the bottom of the road before I got the phone call to take Jack home Jack just didn’t understand what was being asked of him at school and they didn’t understand him - he couldn’t communicate and so he behaved differently.

He spent most of his time standing facing the classroom wall as punishment for being the ‘bad boy’. He wasn’t being taught, his teacher just wanted him quiet and sitting still - when he didn’t, she sent him home.

We suspected something might be different about Jack. Everyone kept saying he was just a ‘tortured soul’ with ‘middle child syndrome’. We went to see a specialist and they confirmed what we had started to think - Jack has autism. It took Jack four years to get the confidence to go back to school again after the trauma of his first years in a classroom. But as soon as he did, his anxiety levels went through the roof and it all happened again.

We were losing our son. He was self harming. One morning he mentioned ending his own life, because life for us would be easier without him. He was becoming more isolated and secluded. 

Jack didn’t understand what people wanted from him. And he hated himself. There were no alternatives because we couldn’t get a special educational needs statement to get the support he needed. Children with a learning disability are treated like criminals. It’s not their fault if their environment distresses them.

As Jack’s parents we have had to learn how to speak to our son, how to listen to him through his behaviours and manage his anxieties. It has enabled Jack to become the son we knew was there. 

At the end of the day there has to be accountability. Somebody has to answer for what’s going to happen to our children, because they’re being discriminated against daily. It’s nothing short of abuse.

You might also like

Your child's rights in education

Get the education your child deserves
Read more

Education, Health and Care Plan

Your child's support plan
Read more

Education - what we think

Children and young people with a learning disability have a right to an inclusive education
Read more