Eleanor Leydon successful in challenging permanent exclusion of seven-year-old disabled child

A primary school permanently excluded a seven-year-old child because of behaviour arising from his disabilities: he has ADHD, autism and a sensory processing disorder. At the original tribunal hearing, at which the family did not have legal representation, the FTT held the exclusion to be a proportionate response.

Eleanor provided a pro bono merits advice on prospects of appeal; drafted grounds of appeal identifying an error of law; and subsequently secured a de novo decision under s9(5)(a) Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. Following an oral hearing, the original tribunal panel decided that the permanent exclusion had been disproportionate, and was therefore discriminatory. The tribunal ordered that the school apologise to the child and his family; remove an inappropriate description of the child’s behaviour from his school records; and train its staff on disability discrimination. From September 2023, the child will be educated at an appropriate school elsewhere.

Eleanor was instructed by Caroline Barrett and Jennifer Wright of Rook Irwin Sweeney, with funding from the EHRC.