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A Fixed Term Exclusion

1. Introduction

This can be a worrying time for pupils and their families, and this leaflet gives answers to the questions, which are most often asked about exclusions. As a parent you have certain rights and responsibilities and these are clearly explained. Good behaviour is very important for good education. Without an orderly atmosphere in the classroom, effective teaching and learning cannot take place. Poor behaviour affects the educational chances of the pupil who is behaving badly and may disrupt the education of the other children.

The school your child attends will have a written behaviour policy, which sets out the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Schools are entitled to expect the support of parents, and they will ask you to be involved if your child is misbehaving. Within the law and a whole-school behaviour policy, heads and teachers have legal authority to impose reasonable punishment and to promote and uphold good behaviour. Exclusion from school on the grounds of bad behaviour is the most extreme form this punishment can take.

2. What is an exclusion?

An exclusion is when the Head Teacher whilst carrying out the duty to maintain good order of a school exercises his/her right to punish a child for a serious offence, which falls outside the boundaries of acceptable behaviour as outlined in the school's behaviour policy.

The law allows for two types of exclusion:

a fixed period exclusion, when a date is set for a return to school; and
a permanent exclusion, when the school is seeking to remove the pupil from their school roll.

This leaflet deals with questions you may wish to ask about a fixed period exclusion. There is a separate booklet about permanent exclusions.

The head teacher of a school can decide to exclude a pupil from school for a fixed period of up to 45 days in any one school year.

If your child has been excluded from school then it means that he or she will not be allowed to attend school for a period of time because of difficulties that have arisen concerning your child's behaviour. Your child must not enter the school premises on the dates given.

3. How do I find out if my child is excluded?

You will receive a letter from the Head Teacher of the school, usually on the day that the exclusion takes effect. This letter will tell you the length of the exclusion and the reason for it. It will also outline the strategies already used by the school in trying to avoid an exclusion and tell you of your right to "make representations" and inform you about the arrangements for your child to undertake schoolwork.

4. What does "make representations" mean?

It means you can state your views about the exclusion to the Discipline Committee of the school's Governing Body. Representations will need to be in writing.

In the case of exclusions of between 6 and 15 school days in total in a school term or where the exclusion will result in your child missing the opportunity to sit a public examination, the Discipline Committee must meet between the 6th and 30th school day from the start of the exclusion; for an exclusion of over 15 school days the Discipline Committee must meet between the 6th and 15th school day after the start of the exclusion - to consider the exclusion regardless of whether representations have been made and, where practicable, decide whether the pupil should be reinstated.

The Discipline Committee will only meet in cases of exclusions of less than 5 days following the receipt of representations. Where the Discipline Committee is required to meet to consider the exclusion, details about the meeting and procedures will be sent to you separately - there is no formal timescale but if the exclusion causes the pupil to miss sitting a public examination the Discipline Committee should try to meet before the public examination.

A fixed period exclusion means that your child is having serious behaviour problems. Even if you have not been asked to go to school or do not wish to "make representations", you may still wish to contact the head teacher, or a member of staff to discuss your child's behaviour. At this meeting you can find out how to help and support both your child and the school.

5. What decisions can the governors make?

In very short exclusions (5 days or fewer) the Governors have no power to change the head teacher's decision. They can, however, express their views on the matter and this may affect future policies at the school.

In exclusions of over 5 days, or where the pupil has been excluded in total for more than 5 days in that term or where the exclusion would result in the pupil missing the opportunity to sit a public examination, the Governors do have the power to "direct reinstatement". This means they can insist the pupil returns to school, either immediately or on a specified date. In some short term exclusions the pupil may have already returned to school before the Discipline Committee have met.

However, parents may still wish to make their views known to the Discipline Committee.

6. Does the Local Education Authority (LEA) have any powers?

No. However, the LEA representative will also be invited to attend the meeting of the Discipline Committee. The LEA may make its own representation to the Committee when they are considering whether to uphold the exclusion.

You should be aware that in practice it is impossible for the LEA to be represented at every meeting discussing fixed period exclusions unless there is a specific and special reason.

The LEA is able to offer advice on the exclusion process to both parents and schools. This booklet is one method we are using to advise parents. Further advice is available from:

EBD Co-ordinator, Department of Education, the full address for your LEA should be on any letters you have had from the LEA or in the Telephone Book.

7. Can my child be excluded with immediate effect?

Yes. You may be asked to keep your child at home immediately after the decision to exclude is made. You will be expected to make your own arrangements, just as you do if your child falls ill.

8. Will the school provide work for my child to do at home?

Whenever a pupil is excluded for more than one day, the school is responsible for making sure that work is available to be undertaken at home and to ensure that it is marked. However, there is a parental responsibility to ensure that this work is collected and returned. You will therefore have to make your own arrangements to collect and return this work to school. The initial exclusion letter from the school should explain the arrangements at your child's own school.

You are reminded that your son/daughter is not permitted to enter the school premises for the duration of the exclusion.

It should be noted that if your child's exclusion is for a period in excess of 15 days, and has been confirmed by the Discipline Committee, the Local Education Authority will become involved. They will meet with yourself and the school in order to plan the provision for your child's education from the 16th day of the exclusion.

9. If my child has been excluded for a fixed period, does this mean he/she must be perminently excluded next time?

No. However, if the head teacher considers a "one-off" incident to be sufficiently serious to warrant a permanent exclusion, such an option is available to the school.

10. My child seem to be continually getting into trouble at school and has received a number of fixed period exclusions.
What happens next?

Such pupils are putting themselves at serious risk of permanent exclusion. It is probable that the school has already identified your child's behaviour problems and a strategy has been prepared. This strategy could be a Pastoral Support Programme, which is a planned intervention to help individual pupils better to manage their behaviour, following agreed approaches, understood by the pupil and all the staff involved with him/her and involving you as parents.

The Pastoral Support Programme is automatically triggered if a pupil has been subject to a pattern of fixed period exclusions.

Should the proposed interventions not be effective, it is likely that your child could be permanently excluded.

It is important to stress that exclusion is a warning that there is serious concern. The important thing is that your child learns from the punishment and tries to improve his/her behaviour. The school will appreciate parental assistance in their attempt to improve your child's behaviour. Experience has shown that where parents and school work together in these cases there is a far greater chance of success.

11. I am very concerned about my child and would be like advice about his/her problems. Who could help?

Your first line of contact is the school. Exclusion is a legal procedure and part of the disciplinary policy of the school. If you require details about policies at your child's school you should contact the head teacher. In addition, the head teacher or class teacher may be able to suggest ways of helping your child.

Your LEA Education Social Work Service can offer information, advice and counselling to your child and/or family regarding acceptable behaviour at school. There is and Education Social Worker (ESW) attached to every school.

General points to consider if your child has been excluded

1. It is not an automatic expectation that every parent wishes to oppose the fixed period exclusion of their child. Parents may wish to accept the exclusion and seek to work with the school to ensure the pupil learns from the punishment.

2. If you are given a date for your child to return to school, and s/he does not return, s/he will be marked as absent without authorisation in the register, unless s/he is absent due to illness.

3. It is important to remember that you may only have heard your child's version of events and that this is rarely the whole story.

4. It is not helpful for your child to go anywhere near the school during the time of the exclusion, as this could make the matter worse.

5. It is important for you to contact the school and make arrangements for work to be sent home, unless the exclusion is only for a short period.

6. It is in your child's best interest for you to attend any meeting in school, and try to support the school in dealing with poor behaviour.

7. If the Social Services Department is involved in supporting either yourself or your family, you should discuss the exclusion with them and seek their advice and support.

At any stage of the process, the Department of Education and Culture will be happy to answer any queries you might have and to provide any relevant information.

Alternatively, you may prefer to contact the Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) helpline on 020 7704 9822. 2004

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