School Exclusions

Fixed term and permanent exclusions, managed moves and directed 'off-site' education.

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If your child has been excluded from school, it can be a very worrying and confusing time. You can expect to receive a letter from the school explaining why your child has been excluded and for how long.

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Fixed Term Exclusions & Permanent Exclusion

If it is a temporary measure, after which, your child should be allowed to return to school as normal. You should be told that you have the right to challenge the decision and how you can go about doing this.

There is often a timeframe to adhere to so ensure that you make your decision on whether you want to challenge the school’s decision and communicate this to the school before the timeframe expires. For the first 5 days of an exclusion it is your responsibility as parents/guardians to ensure that your child is not in a public place during school hours unless there is a good reason, otherwise you may be at risk of prosecution.

Permanent exclusion

A permanent exclusion is the most serious sanction that a school can impose. It is usually the last resort for a school and there is an expectation that the school has exhausted all other avenues of discipline before it reaches this decision. There will of course be exceptions to this when a single action is viewed so serious that the school feels they must permanently exclude the pupil.

A permanent exclusion is where a pupil is told that they cannot come back to school. Once this decision has been made by the school, there are several things that the school is legally obliged to do:

- The Headteacher must write to the parents/guardians of the child explaining that the exclusion is permanent and giving the reasons for the exclusion;
- The Headteacher must inform the Governors and the Local Authority;
- The Governors must meet within 15 days of receiving the notice of exclusion and parents have the right to attend;
- Parents have the right to make written representations which must be considered by the Governors;
- The Local Authority, and not the school, is required to arrange educational provision for excluded pupils of compulsory school age from the 6th day of the permanent exclusion;
- Where the parents dispute the decision of a Governing body to permanently exclude, they can ask that the decision be reviewed by an independent review panel.

Our education law expert, Louise O’Driscoll, can advise you on the procedures involved, help in drafting a written argument to go before the Governing body and attend the meeting itself where she can ask questions of the Headteacher and argue against the permanent exclusion before the Governing body.

It is the responsibility of the school to set work for the excluded child for the first 5 days. If the exclusion is for longer than 5 days, the school must arrange suitable full-time education from the 6th day. This is likely to be at a referral unit. If the school has failed to comply with its duties or you wish to challenge the decision to exclude, speak to our Education Law specialist for practical support and advice.

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Managed Moves & Directed 'Off Site'

A Managed Move is often suggested by a school as an alternative to permanent exclusion, so it does not go down on the students record. It is a voluntary agreement between two schools; the ‘home school,’ which the child currently attends and the ‘receiving school.’ The child and parent must agree to the move. It lasts for a maximum of 12 weeks with regular reviews and progress reports being prepared during the period of the move. A Managed Move Agreement will be drawn up at the first meeting, outlining the school’s expectations of the pupil, what will be done to support them and who will be responsible for overseeing the move/reviews. It is essentially an agreement that the pupil will transfer to a new school for a fresh start and if everything works out well, the child will be offered the opportunity to make the arrangement permanent. The pupil will be on roll with both school’s during the trial period with the ‘home’ school having overall authority.

If the Managed Move is unsuccessful, the ‘receiving’ school can terminate the move but this will usually be reserved for instances of a serious breach of the school’s behaviour policy or persistent failures to meet agreed targets. Under such circumstances, the child would return to the ‘home’ school.

Directed ‘off-site’

This is the power to direct that a pupil does not return to the school but receives alternative education provision to improve their behaviour. Parental consent is not required but it should be a collaborative process.

There are several issues to consider if parents wish to challenge a school’s decision. Some of these are listed below:

– The appropriateness of the ‘off-site’ provider, does it cater for the child’s needs from a behavioural perspective and an academic one?
– Does it provide for the pupil’s special educational needs? Is the pupil/teacher ratio favourable?
– Is it a mainstream or special education provision? Which is best for the pupil?
– Travel to the new provider, does it place an undue burden on the child to get there?
– Does it allow the pupil to continue the studies as they wish? Not all schools offer the same variety of GCSEs for example. Some schools are less academically focused and more practical in the GCSE’s they offer.

Our education law expert, Louise O’Driscoll, can advise you on the practical considerations and can prepare representations in support of how best to manage your child’s needs.

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