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Published, 21 November 2017

Adopted children and exclusion from school

Adoption UK has published the results of a UK-wide survey asking adoptive parents about their children's experiences in school, particularly exclusions.

While the majority of responses to the survey related to children attending school in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are represented.

Summary of results

Special education needs:

  • Nearly half of all adopted children represented in the survey have a recognised Special education need or additional support needs (SEND/ASN)
  • 45% of adopted children represented in the survey have social, emotional and mental health needs as their primary area of need compared to 16% for all SEND pupils in England
  • Children with SEMH needs are 10 times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion and adopted children are over-represented in that cohort


  • 23% of children had received a fixed period exclusion and 14.5% of these had been excluded more than ten times in their school career
  • 4.7% of adopted children represented had been permanently excluded
  • 23.5% - nearly a quarter - of children had been illegally informally excluded
  • 12% of parents indicated that their child's school had suggested to them that the only way to avoid permanent exclusion was to voluntarily remove their child (sometimes known as a managed move)

Higher levels of fixed period and informal exclusions for adopted children were recorded in Scotland than in the other nations, despite falling numbers of exclusions in Scotland as a whole, and compared to national statistics from the Department for Education and devolved governments, adopted children are over-represented in exclusions statistics in all nations.

It's also interesting to note that in the general school population, most exclusions occur during the final two years of secondary school. In the survey, most exclusions of adopted children occurred during the first three years of secondary school.

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