Where a pupil has been excluded from school, the extent of the parent’s right of
appeal, the procedure to be followed and the powers available to the appeal panel
will all depend upon the length and nature of the exclusion.
Not every breach of discipline at school should lead to exclusion, and not every
decision to remove a pupil from school will be a true “exclusion”. For example,
a removal on medical grounds or a removal following an alleged criminal offence committed
offsite and unrelated to the school will not be a true exclusion, nor will a refusal
to allow a pupil to enter the school site (e.g. for refusing to be scanned for weapons).
“Internal exclusions” are not true exclusions, but so-called “informal exclusions”
or sending a child home to cool off are in fact exclusions and the correct procedures
must be followed, otherwise the exclusion is illegal.
Where an exclusion has in fact taken place, the school must always inform the parent
in writing of their right to ask the governing body’s discipline committee to review
the decision. Where the exclusion is for 5 days or less, and the parent requests
a review, the committee cannot direct reinstatement but can record its decision on
pupil’s school file. Where the pupil is excluded for between 5 and 15 days and the
parent requests a review, the committee must hold a hearing within 50 school days
of the exclusion notice; the committee can change the decision but not to the pupil’s
detriment. Where the exclusion is for more than 15 days (added together within a
term) or is permanent, the committee must meet in an any event within 15 school days
of the notice.
Where a discipline committee upholds a permanent exclusion, the decision notice must
inform the parent of the right to appeal to an Independent Review Panel, within 15
school days of the committee’s decision letter. The parent must give written grounds
of appeal and set out various other matters in the appeal notice. The hearing must
take place within 15 school days of receiving the notice of appeal, though it may
be adjourned if the case is not ready. The appeal panel will have three or five
independent members, assisted by a trained clerk. New evidence can be put forward.
The panel’s options include upholdingthe exclusion or directingthe governors to
reconsider. The panel can no longer order reinstatement.