Schools Law: Exclusion v Inclusion
- November 28, 2016
- Winston Brown
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Getting the Balance Right
Of all the issues that face head teachers the dilemma over whether to permanently exclude a pupil is perhaps one of the most sensitive. The implications for pupils, families and schools are far reaching. In 2012 for example, think tank Demos found that only 1% of excluded children received the equivalent of five A* to C grades at GCSE level, compared with 70% of pupils who remained in school. The disparity is startling.
The Scale of Exclusion – On The Rise
The number of permanent exclusions across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools has increased from 4,950 in 2014 to 5,800 in 2015. This corresponds to an average of around 31 permanent exclusions per day in 2015, up from an average of 26 per day in 2014
Solicitors with specialist education law knowledge can advise schools and governing bodies, ensuring a legal balance between the interests of the pupil and those of other pupils and people working at the school.
The Law: Exclusion Must Be Lawful, Reasonable And Fair
There is extensive guidance on exclusions from maintained schools and academies (independent schools operate their own regimes). But it is important to remember that the law on exclusion from school does not operate in a vacuum. Schools must also have regard to a wide range of legislation, including:
- The European Convention on Human Rights
- The Equality Act 2010
- Children and Families Act 2014
- Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015
A head teacher who wishes to exclude a pupil permanently must be satisfied that the sanction is:
- In response to a serious breach, or persistent breaches, of the school’s behaviour policy; and
- Allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
What We Do
Winston Brown at Brown & Co Solicitors has many years’ experience of public law and education law. He advises schools, head teachers, governing bodies, local authorities, Academy Trusts and independent review panel members on the procedures surrounding fixed term and permanent exclusions.
With key experience working inside local government he has an unrivalled insight into practice and procedure in this area. His work involves:
- Guidance on early intervention measures, including possibility of multi agency assessment
- Preparing schools for Ofsted inspections and advising on logs and records that will be inspected in relation to exclusions
- Advice on the procedures to be followed by head teachers when considering whether or not to exclude a pupil
- Distinguishing between the suitability of permanent and temporary exclusions
- Advice on specific guidance relating to specific groups of pupil, including looked after pupils, pupils from ethnic groups with a disproportionately high rate of exclusion and SEN children
Independent Review Panels, The Facts:
In 2014/15 in maintained primary, secondary and special schools and academies there were 390 reviews lodged with independent review panels. Of these only 20 resulted in an offer of reinstatement. We:
- Assist governing bodies and independent review panels ahead of meetings to consider exclusion decision
- Advise on the duties of panel members, clerks and SEN experts
- Represent parents who apply for an independent review following the decision of governing body not to reinstate an excluded pupil.
To find out how we can advise you on any aspect of exclusion from school, please call 020 8858 5996 or contact us online