Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 13:51 UK

Expelled from school at five

By Angela Harrison
Education reporter, BBC News

young child in school
Most children who are expelled are boys and many have special needs

"I remember it was a struggle. I used to get into arguments with teachers all the time. I knocked over desks, was always getting sent to other rooms."

Ed, from Surrey, was first expelled from school at the age of five.

By the time he was nine, he had been to about six schools.

He is now happy and settled at a school which specialises in helping children with dyslexia, one of the two conditions he has since been diagnosed with. He also has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.

"I had anger problems back then. If I did not get something and someone asked me about it, I would get angry, and if a teacher expected me to do work and I wanted to chill out I would get angry," he said.

"It was quite unsettling having to move school."

For Ed, who is now 14, memories of primary school are sketchy and not good.

He says he is much calmer and happier at the school he now attends, a boarding school which specialises in helping children with dyslexia.

He passed through "three or four" state primaries and two private schools, funded by the local authority.


His mother, Amanda, says some schools tried harder with him than others - but all eventually asked him to leave.

"One head told me when we arrived, he had fought the local authority not to take him.

"Some schools, such as a Church of England one, did try very hard, they were more tolerant, but it did not work out. I was being called to the schools every week or every other week to take him home. He could be violent and got in trouble for not doing what he was told to do."

It was only when she found him a place at a special school that he was officially diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome - a form of autism which usually affects someone's ability to communicate and relate to others and make sense of the world around them.

He was a nightmare child until he was eight, you would not believe it if you met him now
Amanda, parent

Amanda says it was clear to her from an early age that Ed would find it difficult to settle in mainstream school.

"He was a nightmare child until he was eight, you would not believe it if you met him now," she said.

"As a toddler, he never passed the progression tests and had trouble communicating.

"But he is a different person now. He is very happy and popular and although he cannot read and write, has a very high IQ. He plays bass guitar in a band and can re-wire a house."

Both mother and son agree the turning point came when Ed was diagnosed and began to receive help in a specialist setting at the age of nine.

He has been at his present school for two years.

"Teachers here are really nice and have helped me with my problems," he says.

"They have talked to me a lot and I have done art therapy. Some of the teachers have had similar problems, some have dyslexia. I don't have many problems now where I get angry.

"I do a lot of sport, such as football and athletics."

'Parents in denial'

Amanda believes some children are not able to cope in mainstream classes - and that brings problems for the child, the teacher and the class.

"I don't blame the teachers," she said.

"They should not have children throwing desks at them. I felt sorry for them, dealing with a child who was not going to be able to do anything for them.

"It's not just a question of schools not dealing with it. There are parents in denial, fighting tooth and nail to get their child into a mainstream school and it doesn't work.

"I did not want to think my son had special educational needs. There's pressure from society: it's very important that your child is normal and everyone must be integrated."

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