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Increase in School Exclusions
As Education law solicitors, we have seen an increase in the number of enquiries from parents who have been notified that their child has been, or will be excluded from school. Child exclusions are a serious concern for parents and alarmingly, the most recent figures issued by the Office of national statistics shows that the total number of children being excluded has increased.
With the increase in exclusion rates, it is imperative that parents know how they can avoid / what to do after their child has been excluded.
What is school exclusion?
Under the Education Act 2002, head teachers have the power to exclude a pupil if their behaviour falls below that which is expected by the school. Exclusion means that a pupil is prohibited from attending school or being on the school premises.
Types of exclusion
There are two types of exclusion that can be utilised by the school, these are;
Fixed term exclusion – This occurs when a pupil is excluded from school for a set period of time. Fixed term exclusion is not for a continuous period. Instead, a pupil is excluded for a ‘fixed’ number of days. It is important to note that a pupil can only be excluded for a maximum of 45 days per academic year and the head teacher must notify you in writing if the period will be extended or made permanent.
Permanent exclusion - is when a pupil is prohibited for a definitive period and will not be allowed to return to school. Permanent exclusion should be used a last resort and the Head Teacher should only consider this option if he/she believes the pupil posses a risk to other pupils.
What can I do if my child has been excluded?
If your child has been permanently excluded, you do have a right to appeal. However, please note that there is no uniform appeal procedure. Instead, different Local Authorities tend to have their own exclusion procedure.
Once your child has been excluded, you should receive a letter from the school which sets out the steps you must follow to challenge a decision. If your exclusion letter does not include this information, you should contact the school to enquire about their procedure.
If the exclusion is for more than five days, or if the exclusion means that your child has missed a part of the national curriculum, you have the right to approach the board of governors and request that they reconsider their decision. If the exclusion is for less than five days, you can still approach the board of governors, but they cannot overturn the head teacher’s decision.
Where your child has been permanently excluded, you have the immediate right to challenge the decision through the governing body. If the Governing body does not provide the desired outcome, you may then take the matter to the independent Review Panel (IRP). The IRP is an independent body which will review the decision to exclude in a formal hearing. Unfortunately, the IRP cannot overrule the decision of the head teacher. If the hearing is successful, the IRP will make recommendations that the head teacher’s decision be reconsidered. However, if the head teacher decides to uphold their decision, then, the school must pay £4,000 to the local authority. Please note that any further decision by the school or IRP could be subject to Judicial Review (depending on the circumstances of the case).
If you are experiencing difficulties in relation to exclusion, then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist education law solicitors team on 02920 291704.