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Expelling a Student from School in London
The Education Act 2002 permits any Head Teacher of a state or private school in England or Wales to exclude a student on a temporary or permanent basis if such behavioural problems exist that do not meet with the general standard of conduct dictated by the behaviour policy of the school.
A school exclusion should only ever be used as a last resort and not before other solutions have been explored without success. Local Authorities in London are keen to prevent exclusions and do not deem using expulsion as a way of setting an example acceptable.
The Department for Education (DfE) clearly stipulates that alternatives must be considered before expelling a child from school in London. There is also a set process to follow. If this is overlooked then a parent may make an appeal and overturn the decision. It is advisable to take exclusion advice for schools from a London education law specialist so as to make sure all the correct procedures are being followed for expelling a student.
Who is Allowed to Expel a Student?
Only the Head Teacher, the Principal of an academy or the teacher in charge of a Pupil Referral Unit are permitted to expel a student.
What is the Process of Expelling a Student from School in London?
Permanent exclusion must only result from a serious breach or ongoing breaches of the school’s behaviour policy. It is also permissible to expel a student from school if allowing them to remain would have a significant negative effect on their welfare or education, or that of other students at the school.
When expelling a student from a London school, it is necessary to give them the opportunity to present their case. If there is any indication that the circumstances leading up to the exclusion were a result of provocation by means of, for example, bullying or harassment, then it will not be correct procedure to continue with the exclusion.
Once the student has stated their case and the Head Teacher is satisfied that exclusion is the only option, a formal letter must be sent to the parents. This letter should set out the reasons for the exclusion together with steps for challenging the decision.
The Governors’ Discipline Committee must meet within 15 days of the expulsion, regardless of whether the parents have issued an appeal. The meeting is held with the aim of making sure the situation surrounding the exclusion has been adequately investigated; that anti-discrimination law and the policies of the school have ben adhered to, and that all the evidence has been considered.
If the behaviour exhibited by the pupil involved violence or theft then this will constitute a criminal offence and the police should be informed. Extenuating circumstances should always be considered though, for example it is important to look at whether the behaviour seriously impacted the school or other pupils and whether there were health or other personal or emotional issues to consider on the part of the offending pupil.
Under What Circumstances can a Pupil be Expelled from a London School?
All permanent school exclusions are required to be fair, reasonable and lawful. Discrimination must not factor in any decision leading to expelling a student from school in London and it is necessary to extend particular consideration to certain groups who are more prone to exclusion than others, such as those with disabilities or conditions that go hand in hand with behavioural issues.
No Head Teacher in London or elsewhere in England is permitted to expel a student unless they have continuously or seriously breached the behaviour policy, whether at school or outside of it. A Head Teacher may also legally expel a student if keeping them would affect their education or welfare, or that of other pupils.
Alternative remedies should usually be explored before a permanent exclusion decision is made, however there are some situations where this is not necessary. These include where there have been serious threats of or actual assault, sexual abuse or violence; the carrying of an offensive weapon or the supply of an illegal drug. Any offence of this nature must be reported to the police.
What Steps can I Take to Make Sure an Expulsion is Legal?
Various pieces of legislation must be adhered to when permanently excluding a student, including the Equality Act 2010.
It is normal for Head Teachers to question how to expel a student from school in London legally. All permanent exclusions have to be fair, reasonable and rational and must not be out of proportion with the offence. They must follow a thorough investigation that takes into consideration the version of events as recounted by everyone involved.
Head Teachers must be satisfied that, ‘on balance of probabilities’, it would be more likely than not that a certain fact is true. If they are not, then the process will not be deemed legally sound.
In line with the Equality Act 2010, London schools must not discriminate against students on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or belief or following gender reassignment. It is also classed as discriminatory to expel a student on the grounds of them being pregnant.
Formal recording of exclusions and the procedures followed is a must.
How do I Expel a Student with Special Educational Needs?
Expelling a special education student in London involves numerous statutory duties and must follow the SEND Code of Practice.
It is not permissible to expel a student on the grounds that they have a need for additional support, cannot reach a particular level of academic ability or have disabilities that cannot be catered for by the school. In other words, the expulsion must be discipline based.
What are the Different Types of School Exclusion?
School exclusion can be fixed term (temporary), or permanent.
Fixed Term Exclusion
A temporary exclusion should be for the shortest timespan necessary. Any one pupil can only be excluded for a maximum of 45 days in any school year. Head Teachers should always consider the challenge posed to students returning to school life after being excluded.
If a decision is made to extend a fixed term exclusion, or a need is found to make it into a permanent exclusion, then the Head Teacher must write to the parents, clearly stating the reasons for the decision.
Sometimes a Head Teacher in London will make the decision to exclude certain pupils from school premises at certain times, for example at break or lunchtimes, if they are prone to disruptive behaviour during these periods. The same process of sending a notification letter to the parents applies.
When a student is permanently excluded from a school in London, they will not be allowed back at any point. As already stated, this decision must be an absolute last resort as London Local Authorities will not tolerate example-making. In other words, expulsion should only ever be on the grounds of disciplinary issues rather than being handed out as a punishment.
How can HCB Solicitors in London Help with School Exclusions?
Expelling a student from a London school is fraught with pitfalls and there is a raft of legislation with which to comply. If a parent makes an appeal, things can become very complex and time consuming.
The London based specialist education lawyers at HCB Solicitors have extensive experience in all aspects of school exclusions and can offer in-depth, practical advice to Head Teachers seeking to ensure they follow all the correct procedures. Keeping schools within the law is something we do on a daily basis, so you can rest assured that with our guidance you will be able to make all the right decisions.
If you are seeking advice on the process of expelling a student, or are concerned about expelling a student with disabilities for fear of accusations of discrimination, talk to our experts today. We work with London schools on an individually tailored and fully confidential basis. We look forward to assisting you.