Finding out that your child has been excluded from school is an incredibly stressful experience for parents.
Head Teachers can issue either fixed term exclusions (up to a maximum of 45 school days in any single year) or permanent exclusions for disciplinary reasons.
There is a strict procedure that has to be followed when excluding a child. The decision has to be made by the Head Teacher and a letter has to be sent to the parent or guardian immediately, informing them of the type of exclusion, length of it, reasons for it and the right that the parent has to appeal the decision.
A school has to provide a child school work for the first five days of any exclusion. Thereafter, on the 6th day of a fixed exclusion, the governing body has to provide work for the child and the local authority, in the case of permanently excluded children.
Having the blemish of, in particular, a permanent exclusion on a child’s academic record can have a profound effect on a family. In the first instance, the child may not accept the reasons why he or she has been excluded. Perhaps they were not responsible for the serious breach of the school’s behaviour policy that led to the exclusion. Maybe there are profound mitigating circumstances, for example the child was pressured in to committing an act or under untold stress at the time or even suffers from a disability, be in emotional or learning.
Parents have the right to make representations against the decision to exclude, to the governing body of the school or academy if:
- The exclusion is a permanent exclusion
- The fixed term exclusion would bring the total number of excluded days that term to 15
- The exclusion would mean the child misses a public examination or national curriculum test
- The fixed term exclusion is more than 5 days but less than 15 ( the governing body has 50 days to convene a meeting in this case alone)
The Governors will convene a meeting within 15 school days of being given notice of the exclusion. Parents, the Head Teacher and in the case of a maintained school, a representative of the local authority, will be invited to the meeting.
The Governors will consider the Head Teacher’s reasons for excluding and whether they were reasonable, legal and proportionate. They will listen to your representations too. A decision will then be made to either re instate your child or uphold the decision to exclude.
If the Governors decide to uphold the head teacher’s decision to exclude, you then have a right to request an Independent Review Panel hearing. This can be requested at no cost to you at all. If you request such a hearing, then a date and time will be set for you and any witnesses to attend a hearing where an independently selected panel ( with no connection to the school or academy trust in question) will examine your and the schools case and make a decision on whether the Head teacher was right to exclude.
If your child has special educational needs ( SEN) then a SEN expert has to be appointed to attend the hearing, again, at no cost to you, to give evidence as to whether SEN issues played a part.
The panel can either agree that the Head Teacher was correct and uphold the decision or recommend that the Governor’s reconsider their decision. The panel has no power to force the Governors to re admit the child. However they face a £4,000 penalty payable to the local Authority if they do not.
Navigating around the minefield of school exclusions is stressful. Independent Review Panel Hearings require the proper consideration and challenging of evidence presented by the school as well as skilled questioning of witnesses called.
If your child has special educational needs, then the school or academy has to have made reasonable adjustments to its policies and practices to ensure that your child is protected. A failure to do so will likely mean that an exclusion is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
We are experienced in advising and representing parents at Governing Body meetings, Independent Review Panels and First Tier Tribunals where disability discrimination has played a part in the exclusion of a child with protected characteristics.