‘Don’t let special needs kids be thrown on scrapheap and expelled without diagnosis’, urges councillor

PUBLISHED: 16:54 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 17 October 2018

New River College

New River College


Kids with learning difficulties need diagnosis and support sooner “to avoid the devastation exclusion can cause”, claims a councillor.

Cllr Phil Graham (Lab, Bunhill) says teachers require more training to help them spot pupils with special needs.

He has also called for an investigation into the number of excluded Islington students who are later diagnosed with austism, ADHD, or similar conditions.

Cllr Graham was due to ask his question at the last cabinet meeting on September 20 but there wasn’t enough time.

He told the Gazette: “In my experience schools don’t seem to be able to recognise autism – it can lead to kids going down the wrong path and dropping off the edge.

“We can’t just turn around and say ‘these kids can be thrown on the scrap-heap because we don’t have the money to deal with them.”

“When they are permanently excluded they get sent somewhere like New River College which, although its staff are very good at their jobs, isn’t dedicated to kids with autism and ADHD.”

He claimed central government cuts and the scramble for schools to get good Ofsted results is exacerbating the problem.

Cllr Graham says he’s working with numerous Islington youngsters who are struggling to get an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

He gave an example of a 17-year-old girl who was unable to participate in a day’s lessons because she didn’t have a support worker there.

“Support is the biggest problem an some school’s don’t get it,” he said. “

But Islington education chief Cllr Joe Caluori says 94 per cent of kids have EHC plans before the age of 11.

“I was in a meeting with child who was about to be permanently excluded the other day,” said Cllr Graham.

“But in the run up the teacher would always say ‘look me in the eye’. Autistic kids are very sensory aware and many can’t make eye contact.

“It’s all about recognising, once you’ve done that it’s easier to help.

“If there’s a naughty kid, you have to think ‘why are they behaving like that?’

He referenced one child being excluded at just eight years old.

Cllr Graham, who has personal experience of dealing with special needs, also claimed excluded children are four times more likely to go to prison

Last year, 23 kids were permanently excluded from council-run schools.

Cllr Caluori said: “None have since been diagnosed with autism or ADHD.”

“However, one young person with a diagnosis of ADHD prior to exclusion was permanently excluded from a non-Islington school.”

He added: “Islington has a higher number of children with special educational needs compared to other areas.”

Islington’s bidding to become a “trailblazer site”, to secure funds for training and support work for pupils with special educational needs

Latest Islington News Stories


A paedophile who groomed and assaulted a young girl at his Archway home has been jailed for 11 years – and police believe he has more victims.


The head chef at a Holloway care home is in the final of a national cooking competition.

Cycle stands in Finsbury Park have been removed after they were installed in “the wrong place”.

A Clerkenwell exhibition remembers what life was like “on Islington’s home front” during the First World War – it’s an essential experience ahead of Sunday’s centenary.


Children and veterans were among hundreds of people who marched together down Upper Street as part of celebrations marking the centenary of the Armistice yesterday.

Yesterday, 12:00

Islington’s George William Sleet was a career soldier who had seen the army as a way out of a life scarred by childhood neglect.

Yesterday, 10:00

When the sound of rockets was heard across north London on November 11, 1918, some feared for their lives.

Yesterday, 00:57

A man was stabbed off Stroud Green Road this evening – and his attacker remains at large.


Fostering older teenagers means giving them the skills for life as an adult. Here, a supportive lodgings carer with Islington Council and young adult who has left care share their stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Islington Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now