Permanent exclusion from school
Permanent exclusions should normally be a final (last resort) sanction following a range of other support strategies and disciplinary measures. They should only be implemented in relation to serious or persistent breaches of discipline policy or if allowing a pupil to remain would seriously harm the welfare or education of the pupil or others. Permanent exclusion may, however, occasionally be in response to a single, serious, one-off incident.
Head teachers must inform you without delay of the decision to permanently exclude your child from school and the reasons why this happened.
Your child must not return to the school or enter the school site. The only exceptions are if they are specifically asked to attend a meeting or if the head teacher has agreed limited re-attendance for exams.
Challenging permanent exclusion
For permanent exclusions, the School Governors' Pupil Discipline Committee must meet to consider the head teacher’s decision. The meeting must be held within 15 school days of a head teacher's decision. You are entitled to attend this meeting, the school will write to you with details. The Pupil Discipline Committee can confirm the head teacher’s decision or else can overturn the decision and reinstate the pupil (they will set a date for this to happen).
You or your child can ask the Governors' Pupil Discipline Committee to hear your views. You can make representations to the governing body in writing or verbally at the meeting.
You have the right to see your child's school records. You will need to contact the school direct if you wish to see these records.
After the Pupil Discipline Committee's meeting, the chair must without delay send you a letter stating the decision reached by the Committee. This will include the reasons for their decision and, where the permanent exclusion has been upheld, confirm your right to have the decision considered by an Independent Review Panel (IRP).
Independent Review Panels (IRP)
If the Governors' Pupil Discipline Committee agree with the head teacher's decision and your child is to be permanently excluded, you are entitled to make a request for the decision to be reviewed by an IRP. The role of the independent review panel is, as an impartial body, to review the head teacher's decision to permanently exclude your child.
You do not have to go to an IRP; you will receive a form which asks you to indicate whether or not you wish to have a review. This should be included in the letter from school or academy confirming the Pupil Discipline Committee decision. If you do not wish to have a review you should complete the “no” section and return it to the stated address. You have 15 school days from receipt of the letter to request a review. Where any request is received after the 15 school days timeframe then it will be treated as late and there will be no review of the decision.
Your child's name cannot be removed from the school roll during this time or until after the outcome of the review (unless you formally waive your right to request a review at an earlier date).
IRPs will meet within 15 school days of receipt of your review request. The panel is usually held at a local venue, not at the school or academy. Generally hearings last around one to one and a half hours.
During the panel
You can take a friend or representative to the review and your child can attend. The panel will follow a set structure which will be explained. You will be given the opportunity to state your case in full, ask questions and to sum up at the end of the hearing.
You should include in your case anything which you feel is relevant. You may submit documents or supporting evidence. If papers are submitted in advance the panel will have more time to consider them prior to the hearing.
The panel comprises three (or very occasionally five) independent persons. The chair of the panel will be a lay member. This is somebody who has not worked in a school or academy in a paid capacity. The other panel members will be a school governor and a head teacher. Where possible, the panel will usually be drawn from outside of the local area.
The head teacher will attend and may bring a witness (who often will be a member of staff). There may also be a governor in attendance.
You can also request the presence of an independent special educational needs expert. You can do this regardless of whether the child has any special educational needs. The review request form allows you to confirm whether you will require an Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert to be present at the hearing. SEN experts do not represent the parents or guardian of an excluded child at the hearing.
The SEN expert's role at the IRP meeting is not to make an assessment of the child's particular needs. The focus of the SEN expert advice should be on whether the school or academy policies relating to SEN were legal, fair and reasonable in relation to the permanently excluded pupil. If the school or academy does not recognise that the pupil has special needs then the SEN expert can advise on whether they acted in a legal, reasonable and procedurally fair way in relation to identifying any SEN. They can also advise about any contribution which this could have made to the circumstances of the permanent exclusion.
The outcome of the review (IRP)
The panel may:
- uphold the exclusion decision
- recommend that the governing body reconsiders its decision
- quash the decision and direct that the governing body considers the exclusion again.
An independent review panel does not have the power to reinstate an excluded pupil. Nor does it have the power to remove the exclusion from a pupil's record.
If the school or academy governors are asked or directed to re-consider they must arrange to do this within ten school days of the decision of the panel. If they have been directed to reconsider and do not re-instate the pupil then the school or academy may have an additional budget deduction of £4,000 imposed by the panel.
If the panel upholds the permanent exclusion and you disagree with the decision, the Local Government Ombudsman can consider any procedural anomalies which you feel may have occurred. A Judicial Review of the decision can be sought if you feel that it is unreasonable.
The Ombudsman or the Courts cannot reinstate the pupil to the school or academy. The Secretary of State cannot change the decision of the panel.
Children with particular needs or disabilities
Pupils with disabilities can be excluded but there must not have been discrimination. If you consider that your child has a disability you can raise any issues in your representations to the governors (Pupil Discipline Committee).
If your child has a statement of special educational needs or an education health and care (EHC) plan then the school may present evidence about your child's educational ability, behaviour and social background as well as the facts surrounding the incident which led to the permanent exclusion. The county council may provide a view or comments about whether it feels that permanent exclusion is appropriate or not. You will receive copies of this information in advance of the meeting.
If the child is in public care (a looked after child) you must discuss matters with your social worker (who may wish to attend any relevant meetings). Looked After Children should only be excluded as an absolute last resort.