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School Exclusion Appeals

Expert Education Law advice courtesy of the dedicated team of nationally respected specialist lawyers at HCB.

According to the Education Act (2002), a head teacher in England or Wales has the power to exclude any pupil whose behaviour is not in agreement with the general standard of expectations of conduct.

Exclusion from school is considered a last resort, and certain steps must be followed in accordance with the guidance issued by the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of Education. If these steps are not followed correctly, it is likely that an appeal will be successful on the basis of breach of procedure.

What is a School Exclusion?

School exclusion means your child will be banned from attending classes or being on the school grounds; either for a set amount of time, or permanently. As it is considered a last resort, it will only be implemented when a serious case of misconduct has occurred. Though Local Authorities tend to avoid exclusions, but Head Teachers have been known to use them as a method of ‘setting an example’ to the other pupils, and to make it clear that such misbehaviour won’t be tolerated.

How do I Appeal against a School Exclusion?

The appeals procedure for exclusions can vary among Local Authorities for state schools, and will be distinctly different for private or independent schools.
Once you have received an exclusion letter, which will set out the steps necessary for challenging the decision, you will be able to put forward your argument to via the school’s Governing Body. If this outcome is unsuccessful, you can take the matter to an Independent Appeals Panel. They will be able to formally review whether or not alternative actions were taken into consideration and if the procedures were all followed correctly. Although they do not have the power to force the school to withdraw its decision, they can make recommendations that the decision be reconsidered, should an appeal be successful. This decision can then be susceptible to Judicial Review.

What are the Different Types of School Exclusion?

There are two types of school exclusion:

Fixed Exclusion: Also known as a ‘suspension’, this involves the pupil being temporarily disallowed at school for a certain period of time. This period cannot be undefined, and it must be reasonable, taking into account how difficult it may be for a student to integrate back into school life. The maximum amount of time a pupil can be suspended is 45 days, but if a fixed exclusion needs to be extended or made permanent, the Head Teacher must contact you to explain why.

Permanent Exclusion: Otherwise known as expulsion, this means the exclusion is permanent, and the student will not be allowed to return to the school. Expulsions should generally only be implemented if the pupil poses a risk to the other students, and it is considered an absolute last resort. Permanent exclusion should only be imposed if the Head Teacher deems the incident the student has committed severe enough, or that the school is unable to manage the pupil and their behaviour.

What can I do if I think that my child has been expelled through Discrimination?

The law in England and Wales dictates that it is illegal to base exclusions on the grounds of gender, race, or disabilities. If you think your child has been excluded on the basis of discrimination, you can make an appeal and/or complaint – the process of which will be outlined in your child’s exclusion letter.

My Child with Special Educational Needs has been Excluded, what can I do?

Children with special education needs are six times more likely to be excluded than the average child, according to research conducted by the School Exclusion Unit. A study by the Communities Empowerment Network asserts that in 2012 and 2013, that figure was 10 times more likely.

If you feel the school has failed to provide suitable support for your child, and that has led to your child being excluded, you can make an appeal. For instance, if your child has behavioural issues and this has led them to be considered disruptive, if adequate steps were not taken to support that child’s needs you will have a good case to appeal against their exclusion. The Equality Act (2010) legislation also dictates that it would be grounds for a Disability Discrimination case against the school.  This, however, would be dealt with by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. HCB Solicitors have a proven track record of success in such cases, and have helped many families achieve the results they want.

What Happens After a School Exclusion?

Once a pupil is suspended, it is the school’s duty to set and mark homework for the first 5 days of the suspension. If the exclusion extends beyond 5 days, the school is also required to organise alternative education from the sixth school day of the suspension. They should also advise parents of their child’s new arrangements, and then it is up to the parents to ensure the child attends. It is the responsibility of the parent to take control of the location of an excluded child during the first 5 days of their exclusion. If, during school hours, an excluded child is found on school premises or in a public place, you will have committed a criminal offence, and could be prosecuted and fined by the Local Education Authority.

If, after 5 days, arrangements have not been made for your child or you have reason to complain about the arrangements that have been made, you will either need to contact the school in the case of suspensions, or, in the case of expulsion, the Local Authority. If you are unsatisfied with the response you receive, you can also make a complaint to the Department for Education.

In the case of permanent exclusion, a panel of governors will need to review the Head Teacher’s decision. You will be given the chance to state your case at this meeting, as will your child, and you are within your rights to have a solicitor support you or speak on your behalf. Should the panel agree with the Head Teacher’s decision, you can request an independent review.

How can HCB Solicitors help me if my Child has been expelled from School?

The specialist education law team at HCB Solicitors can ensure all the procedures were followed correctly, and the appropriate criteria has been applied during the entire exclusion process.

What we find is that in many cases, procedures have not been properly adhered to. Often, the Governing Bodies determining whether the Head Teacher has made the right decision rarely fully understand the official regulation put in place by the Department for Education or the Welsh Assembly Government. In some cases, it comes to pass that witness statements have not been taken into consideration, or even that the child in question was not given the opportunity to give their account of the events.

Our specialist solicitors have extensive experience when it comes to exclusion cases. We will push hard for justice, and will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the decision to make sure your child was not wrongfully excluded – either on the grounds of discrimination, inconsistent evidence, or if procedures were not followed efficiently.

For personalised advice on an exclusion case, get in touch with us today.