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Permanent Exclusion from School

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 permanent exclusions. As a parents 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.

A permanent exclusion from school is the last sanction available to a head teacher when a pupil seriously misbehaves. It means that unless the governors of the school direct otherwise, your child will not be allowed to return to the school, and you will need to seek another school for your son/daughter.

Permanent exclusion is not a step that head teachers take lightly and they will have made the decision based on the fact that:

there has been a serious breach of the school's discipline policy; and
a range of alternative strategies have been tried and have failed; and
allowing your child to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil, or of others in the school.

A formal process has to be followed in the event of a permanent exclusion, and strict timescales are set by the Government for the various parts of the process.

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 the pupil to return; and
a permanent exclusion

This Information Sheet deals with questions you may wish to ask about a permanent exclusion. There if a separate Information Sheet about fixed period exclusions.

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 unless reinstated by the Governors or the Independent Appeal Panel.

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

You will receive a letter from the Head Teacher of the school, usually sent on the day of the exclusion, which is a "written notification" of the permanent exclusion. The letter will tell you the reason for the exclusion, and will be accompanied by information relating to the exclusion, which should allow you to understand what has happened to lead to the decision to exclude permanently. The letter will also outline the strategies already used by the school in avoiding exclusion. In addition, the head teacher will advise you, either in this letter or in a prompt follow-up letter, of any relevant previous warnings, fixed period exclusions, other disciplinary measures taken and the use of the Pastoral Support Programme before the present incident.

It will also tell you that you have the "right to make representation" to the Governors' Discipline Committee of the school. You have 5 school days from receiving the letter to let the governors know that you intend to make representations.

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.

Following notification of the permanent exclusion, the Discipline Committee must meet between the 6th and 15th school days after the start of the permanent exclusion to consider the exclusion and decide whether the pupil should be reinstated. The Governors will let you know how they intend to consider your child's exclusion and your representations, if applicable. They will invite you to attend the meeting. It would normally be expected that you would be allowed to have a friend to accompany and help you at the meeting - although you should advise the Clerk to the Discipline Committee in advance if this is the case. Your child would normally be permitted to attend the meeting and speak on his/her behalf.

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

The school must provide work for your child to do at home, the initial letter from the school should explain the arrangements at your child's own school.

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.

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

6. When will the Discipline Committee Meet to consider my child's exclusion?

Such a meeting must be held no earlier than the 6th school day but no later than the 15th school day from the date on which the Committee was notified of the exclusion.

These time limits are introduced to allow time for you to prepare your case and to allow a "cooling off" period between the Head teacher's decision to exclude and the Discipline Committee's consideration of the case.

7. What decisions can the governors make?

The Discipline Committee can either allow your child to return to school - "direct reinstatement" - or uphold the head teacher's decision.

If the Committee decides your child should return to school, they will set a date for reinstatement.

On the other hand, if the Committee decides to uphold the permanent exclusion (that is, agree with the head teacher's decision to permanently exclude) they will inform you immediately in writing, giving the reasons for their decision. You will also be informed of your right to appeal to an independent appeal panel and that you will be able to make both spoken and/or written representations to that panel. You will have the right to appeal even if you have not made any prior representations to the Discipline Committee.

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

No. However, the Local Education Authority (LEA) will also be invited to attend the meeting of the Discipline Committee. The Authority's representative make their own representation to the Committee when they are considering whether to uphold the exclusion.

The LEA provides advice to both parents and schools on the exclusion process, for example through this booklet. Further advice is available from:

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

9. Do I have to appeal?

No. If, however, you disagree with the exclusion and consider your child should return to that school, you may wish to appeal.

10. How do I submit an appeal?

The letter from the Discipline Committee will have advised you of your right of appeal. The letter should also explain how to make a formal appeal and the last day by which any appeal must be made. The LEA will also write to you confirming your right to appeal.

The appeal will be to an Independent Appeal Committee and you should write to: The Clerk to the Independent Exclusion Appeal Panel, the contact details will be provided in the corresponence from the school about the exclusion, setting out your grounds for wanting to do so.

Your appeal will not be considered if the letter is not received within the 15 school days.

11.When will the appeal be heard

If you have exercised your right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Committee, and have done so within the 15 school days allowed by the law, an Independent Appeal will be organised by the Local Authority's Committee Services Section of the Central Services Department. If you require further time in which to prepare your case the LEA may agree to your request. The appeal will be heard by the Independent Appeal at a formal meeting, usually held in the Town Hall or somewhere neutral, within 15 school days of your letter notifying the Clerk to the Appeal Panel of your wish to appeal.

12. Who will attend the appeal hearing?

You are entitled to attend and will be invited. You also have the right to be legally represented or be accompanied by a friend. The head teacher and a member of the Governing Body are entitled to attend and to make written representations. The Governing Body has the right to be represented at the hearing. The Local Education Authority will also be entitled to attend and make oral representations. Your child will normally be allowed to attend and, if so, may also speak to the panel.

13. Who will be on the appeals panel?

The appeal panel will consist of 3 or 5 members. At least one member will have experience of education, have knowledge of the educational conditions in the area, or be a parent of a registered pupil in another school. At least one other member will be a lay person, that is, someone without personal experience in the management of a school or the provision of education.

14. What decisions can the appeals panel make?

You will receive a letter by the end of the second school day after the conclusion of the appeal hearing. This letter will explain the panel's decision.

The panel can either direct reinstatement, i.e. allow your child to return to the school, or they can uphold the decision to exclude. If the appeals panel decides to direct reinstatement, they will set a date for your child's return to school. This date will be no more than 5 school days from the date of their decision.

The decision of an Independent Appeal Committee is final and binding on all parties. There is no further right of appeal.

15. What happens if I decide no to appeal or the appeals panel upholds the perminent exclusion?

Your child's name will be removed from the schools roll. This means that your child can not return to that school.

You should contact the Pupil and Student Services of the Local Education Authority in order to discuss an alternative school for your child. Arrangements can vary as alternative provision to another mainstream school can become available if this appropriate. The LEA should keep you informed of progress once you have made the initial contact.

General points to consider if your child has been excluded

1. It is not an automatic expectation that every parent wishes to oppose the permanent exclusion of their child. Parents may wish to accept the exclusion and seek an alternative placement so as to give their child the chance of a fresh start and keep as short as possible the child's time out of school.

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 permanent 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.

You should contact: EBD Co-ordinator, Department of Education the address can be found on any letters from the LEA or the local Telephone Book.

You should also contact this section immediately if you do not wish your child to return to the school which has permanently excluded him/her and are seeking a place elsewhere; or if your final appeal has not been successful and you must now look for another school for your child.

Further advice and support is also available through the: Education Social Work Service or District Exclusions Officer.

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

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