Child Expelled From School - What To Do Next
In the UK, a child can be excluded or expelled from school when there is a serious breach of school policies. This can be either temporary exclusion, known as a fixed term exclusion, or a permanent expulsion.
Finding out the news your child has been expelled from school can often be an emotional and worrying time. There are a number of options for pupils in this situation, and this article will highlight your rights, responsibilities and next steps if your child has been permanently or temporarily expelled from school.
If your child has been excluded, the school has a responsibility to inform you without delay. There should also be an explanation of why they have been excluded, for how long and what the process is for you to challenge the decision.
The Two Types of School Exclusions
Fixed Term Exclusions are for a specific time period, which can happen multiple times per academic year (up to 45 school days). If an exclusion is over five days, the school must organise suitable full-time education for the child.
Permanent Exclusions (Expulsions) are when the pupil's name is removed from the school admissions register. In this case, the local council must arrange full-time education from the sixth school day.
This article will be focusing on the next steps for pupils and students who have been permanently excluded, also know as being expelled, from school.
A decision to exclude a pupil permanently should only be taken: In response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy; and Where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
Reasons for Being Expelled from School
Expelling a pupil is often a last resort after a series of interventions to improve the behaviour of the child, and often sanctions such as detentions and suspensions. There are cases where a single offence may be enough to justify expelling a child such as bringing a dangerous weapon to school.
Whilst an exclusion may still be an appropriate sanction, the head teacher should take account of any contributing factors that are identified after an incident of poor behaviour has occurred. For example, where it comes to light that the pupil has suffered bereavement, has mental health issues or has been subject to bullying.
Schools are only allowed to expel students on disciplinary grounds. This means schools cannot exclude a child based on their disability or special educational needs (SEN), for example. It is also illegal to discriminate against a child due to factors such as their sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or because of a pregnancy or gender reassignment.
Reasons for expelling a child from school include:
Being in possession of a deadly weapon. Selling (or attempting to sell) illegal drugs. Breaking school rules and policies. Disruptive behaviour. Putting other pupils in danger. Preventing other students from learning. Committing a crime on school premises. Repeated failure to follow academic instructions.
More information will be set out in the school’s behaviour policy.
What Is the School Exclusion Process?
The school has the responsibility to let you know about the exclusion as soon without delay, as well as providing details about the length of the exclusion and for what reasons. At this stage, the school should also provide details about how to challenge the decision. This will include details about the parent’s right to make representations to the governing body, who to contact about this representation and their right to see copies of a child’s school record.
Throughout this exclusion period, the pupil should not attend school. In some cases, this may lead to a fixed term exclusion whilst an investigation is underway which could, in turn, lead to a permanent exclusion. Should the child be further excluded, the headteacher must provide a new exclusion notice to parents as soon as possible.
For the first five days of exclusions, regardless of whether they are fixed term or permanent, the school must take reasonable steps to provide set and mark work for the student. From the sixth day onwards, the responsibility of education falls on the school and local authorities.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that for the first five school days of an exclusion your child is not present in public places during normal school hours without a good reason. A valid reason would be a medical appointment such as seeing the dentist, for example.
If your child has been permanently expelled from the school, from the sixth day your local council must arrange suitable full-time education. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure their child attends any alternative education arranged for their child.
Next Steps - Challenging an Expulsion From School
Contacting the Governing Body
If the exclusion is permanent, the governing body must consider the grounds of the exclusion of the student and hold a review meeting with the school’s governors within 15 school days. The governing body meeting will invite the parents, headteacher and a representative of the local authority.
At this stage, the governing body must consider the interests of all parties including the excluded pupil and other pupils and students at school, as well as looking at the circumstances in which the pupil was excluded.
The governing body can either choose to uphold an exclusion or reinstate the pupil either immediately or at a particular date. They must notify the parents, headteacher and local authority of its decision.
In the case of a child being permanently excluded, the parents should be notified of the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed by an Independent Review Panel (IRP), or academy trust if the school is an academy. If parents believe that their child has been expelled due to discrimination, they can make a claim under the Equality Act 2010.
Independent Review Panel (IRP)
If the governors choose to uphold the permanent exclusion, you can opt to have an independent review by an IRP. Parents must lodge their application within 15 school days of receiving the decision of the governing body or the final determination of a claim of discrimination relating to the exclusion. These are stringent rules.
The parents must submit written representations and supporting evidence when lodging their claim. The decision of the panel will only take account of evidence available to the governing body. The panel, though, can include evidence that the governing body would, or should have had available to them throughout the review. This also includes evidence the governing body ought to have considered throughout the appeal. An IRP can either uphold the exclusion or recommend or direct that the governing body considers their decision.
Should the IRP recommend or direct the governing body to reconsider, the governing body must reconvene within 10 school days. From here, the pupil may be reinstated or the exclusion may be upheld and the case cannot be sent back to the IRP.
Challenging the IRP on a Permanent School Exclusion
Should the permanent exclusion still stand it may be possible to challenge the decision if the governing body made an error in law, acted unreasonably or was in breach of natural justice.
The application for judicial review should be made within three months of the decision date and would require legal representation. Equally, you can bring a judicial review claim against the decision of the Independent Review Panel (IRP) which may lead to a fresh hearing being arranged.
School Exclusion Legal Guidance and Advice - Get in Touch Today
If you are looking to challenge your child’s school exclusion, Whitehead Monckton’s Kent education solicitors can assist and advise you through the appeals process. With offices in Maidstone, Canterbury and Tenterden, our team have a wealth of experience in assisting parents with a range of education matters.
Graham Jones is our education law specialist has vast experience in all education law matters. For more information, enquire using the form below, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our friendly team on 01622 698000.