The decision to permanently exclude a child from school should only be taken in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school’s behaviour policy, and where allowing the child to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
The decision on whether to exclude is for the head teacher to take. However, where practical, the head teacher should give pupils an opportunity to present their case before taking the decision to exclude. While exclusion may still be an appropriate sanction, head teachers should take account of any contributing factors that are identified.
Once the decision has been taken to exclude a pupil, the head teacher must notify parents without delay. They must also provide parents with the following information in writing:
- Reason for exclusion.
- Parents’ right to make representations about the exclusion to the governing body and how the pupil may be involved in this.
- How to make any representations.
- Where there is a legal requirement for the governing body to consider the exclusion, that parents have the right to attend a meeting, be represented at this meeting (at their own expense) and to bring a friend.
Written information should be either hand-delivered to parents, or posted to the last known address.
Parents’ responsibility for a permanently excluded child
For the first five days of exclusion (or until the start date of alternative provision where this is earlier) parents are legally required to ensure their child is not present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification. Parents who fail to do so may be given a fixed penalty notice or face prosecution.
The local authority's responsibility for a permanently excluded child
For permanent exclusions, the local authority must arrange suitable full-time education to begin no later than the sixth day of exclusion. Where it is not possible to arrange alternative provision during the first five days of exclusion, schools should take reasonable steps to set and mark work for pupils. Work provided should be accessible and achievable by pupils outside of school.
Consideration by the governing body
The governing body will meet to consider the exclusion between the sixth and fifteenth school day after the notification of the exclusion (this does not include school holidays). You will be invited to attend this meeting. You can bring a friend or legal representative with you or somebody to speak on your behalf. If you prefer to you may make your representations to the governors in writing.
The local authority should also be invited to send a representative to the meeting. The governors can instruct the head teacher to re-admit your child to the school.
After the meeting the governors must advise you and the local authority of their decision within one school day of the meeting, giving their reasons.
The local authority has no power to instruct a school to readmit a pupil.
If the governors confirm the permanent exclusion of your child they must advise you of your right to request the decision to be reviewed by an independent review panel. The local authority will also write to you within three working days of the governing body meeting to confirm your right to an independent review.
The governing body can delegate some or all of its functions in respect of exclusions to a committee consisting of at least three governors and such a committee may be called the discipline committee.
Right to an independent review
If you wish to request the decision to be reviewed by an independent review panel, you must write to the clerk of the panel within 15 school days of the governors’ decision.
Your application should explain the grounds on which it is being made and, where appropriate include, reference to any special educational needs you consider to be relevant to the exclusion. The role of the panel is not to reinstate a permanently excluded pupil but to review the decision of the governing body of the excluding school. Where a panel decides that a governor’s decision is flawed, it can direct the governing body to reconsider its decision.
Please note that you are still able to request a review even if you did not attend the meeting. The excluding school should confirm details of where your application for the panel should be sent. This is usually the panel’s clerk.
The panel must meet within 15 school days after receiving your letter. You will be told as soon as possible when and where the hearing will take place.
Your review will be heard in private and the hearing will be as informal as possible.
If possible, you should attend the review. If you do not attend, and do not inform the clerk you are unable to get there, the panel will consider your appeal in your absence. You may wish to bring a friend or representative with you. You also have the right to make representations and to be represented.
Your child is also able to attend the review and advice should be given by the clerk on how best to support their participation. If your child feels unable to attend the review, they may wish to contribute their views through a representative or a written statement.
You may also wish for a Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert to attend your child’s review. If so, this needs to be included in your application to the panel. You may request the presence of a SEN expert regardless of whether your child has a recognised Special Educational Need.
The role of the SEN expert is not to assess your child’s special educational needs but to advise on whether the school’s policies which relate to SEN and the application of these policies with regards to your child were legal and fair.
If you decide that you do not wish for an independent review you should notify the Alternative Education Commissioning Service at the local authority of your decision in writing as soon as possible.
Possible outcomes of an independent review
Following the review the panel can decide to:
- Uphold the exclusion which means your child will subsequently come off the roll of his/her excluding school and education will continue through the alternative provider.
- Recommend the governing body reconsiders their decision, as this is only a recommendation; the governing body can refuse to reconsider the exclusion. You will be advised accordingly. Should the governors reconsider the exclusion; your child will remain on the school roll until a final decision is reached.
- Direct the governing body to consider the exclusion again. If the governing body fails to reinstate your child within 10 school days of receiving notice of the panel’s decision, the excluding school will face a £4000 fine.
The panel’s decision is binding
If your child is not reinstated following your review or you have decided not to proceed with an review and your child is still of compulsory school age (5-16), the teaching offered by the alternative provider will continue until it is felt appropriate to reintegrate your child in a mainstream or alternative setting.
In addition to your right to request an independent review, if you feel your child’s exclusion occurred as a result of discrimination, you may make a claim under the Equality Act 2010 to the first-tier tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), in the case of disability, or the county court, in the case of other forms of discrimination. Your claim should be lodged within six months of the date which your child was excluded.