It is a distressing time for a family when a child is excluded from school; whether on a fixed term basis or permanently. Whilst the headteacher of a school has the power to exclude a pupil for a number of reasons (mainly because of a serious breach or persistent breaches of school policies and/or that allowing the pupil to remain in school would harm the education or welfare of others or of the pupil in question), it should be a decision that is made as a last resort and ideally, made after the pupil has had the opportunity to present his/her case. The decision should not be made in the heat of the moment. Pupils must not be excluded for non-disciplinary breaches such as failure to comply with school uniform.
If you feel your child was wrongly excluded and the procedure was not followed correctly, you can appeal the decision to the Governing Body.
Fixed term exclusions
The length of a fixed term exclusion can vary from 1 day to up to a maximum of 45 school days in any one school year. If a pupil is temporarily excluded for more than 5 school days but less than 15, you as the parent can request an appeal of that decision to the Governing Body by submitting representations. The Governing Body must consider the case within 50 days of notification of the exclusion. If you do not make representations, there is no requirement for the Governing Body to meet and they cannot direct reinstatement.
For exclusions of less than 5 days, you do not have an automatic right to a hearing, however you will still be able to make representations to the Governing Body. They will decide whether it’s necessary to put a note of their findings on the pupil’s records.
For exclusions totalling more than 5 days, the Governing Body must arrange suitable education for the pupil from the 6th day onwards.
If the fixed term exclusion is for more than 15 school days in a term, is permanent or would result in a pupil missing an exam, the Governing Body must meet within 15 school days of notification of the exclusion.
If the exclusion is permanent, as above, the Governing Body must meet within 15 school days to consider reinstatement of the pupil. If you are unsuccessful at this stage and the pupil is not reinstated, you can appeal to the Independent Review Panel (‘IRP’). It is a notable change in the law (since September 2012) that the IRP cannot order reinstatement. The function of the IRP is to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for them to recommend or indeed direct that the Governing Body should reconsider its decision to uphold the permanent exclusion.
The decision of the IRP will be binding on all parties.
Following a permanent exclusion, it is the responsibility of the Local Authority to provide full time education for the pupil from the 6th day following the permanent exclusion.
Excluded pupils with Special Educational Needs
Wherever possible, headteachers should avoid excluding pupils who are in receipt of Education Health and Care Plans. In the event that you believe your child has been excluded for a reason related to their disability, you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, Special Educational Needs and Disability within 6 months from the last act of discrimination. This can be an additional step to your appeal to the Governing Body and the IRP (if applicable).
For other forms of discrimination, it would be the Country Court.
If your child has been excluded from school or is at risk of exclusion, it is advisable to seek legal advice promptly. We are here to help.