Decisions on school exclusions are never taken lightly
28 February, 2019
• WITH reference to your report (Camden to probe link between school exclusions and knife crime, February 21), it was the words “kicked out” that concerned me.
We are talking here about young people many of who come from complex families with all manner of issues and who are, themselves, vulnerable and often have medical or mental health issues.
In order for a school to exclude a pupil the law is quite specific; Department for Education: Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England September 2017 sets out the process which all schools must abide by.
There are two types of exclusion, a fixed-term and permanent. A fixed-term exclusion is where a pupil is temporarily removed from the school which can be anything from half a day up to a maximum of 45 days in any one academic year.
A permanent exclusion is where a pupil is expelled. In this case the local authority must arrange full-time education either in a pupil referral unit or a managed move to another school.
The decision to permanently exclude a pupil can only be taken by the head teacher. The head is obliged to follow the school’s behaviour policy and must inform the governing body of the action.
The governing body must consider the exclusion and will usually form a sub-committee of at least three governors to consider any representations made by or on behalf of the parents, the head and the local authority.
The governing body must apply the civil standard of proof being “on the balance of probabilities” (it is more likely than not that a fact is true). The governing body can either (i) decline to reinstate the pupil or (ii) direct reinstatement of the pupil immediately or on a particular date.
The parents have the right to appeal the decision to exclude. If they do so, the local authority must arrange for an independent review panel hearing.
I have sat on these panels following a head teacher’s decision to permanently exclude and I know that it is not at all easy for the school and for the parents. It can be very emotional and stressful for both parties.
These decisions are never taken lightly and it is only when a school has done everything it possibly can to keep that pupil in the school that a decision such as this is made.
Camden Mews, NW1