Making an Exclusions Appeal
For many parents, having their child permanently excluded from school can be an overwhelming event. In some cases, however, parents may appeal the decision – and occasionally get an outcome that is satisfactory to them.
Children can be excluded either permanently or for a fixed period of time. This usually depends on the nature of the transgression, as well as whether this was the first time it occurred, or if it was part of a continuing negative behaviour pattern seen as being detrimental to the school and other pupils.
Why Are Children Excluded?Reasons that a headteacher can send a pupil home vary, but can be either due to very bad behaviour or a failure to adhere to school rules. Generally, your child can be excluded if the school administration believes that:
- His or her behaviour is serious enough to have a negative impact on the learning of the other pupils at school, and/or can compromise their safety.
- You as parents have disregarded rules for behaviour set out by the school, and therefore de facto have encouraged your child to break the school rules.
Fixed Versus Permanent ExclusionA fixed period, also called a suspension, is when your child is excluded for no more than 45 days in a school year. A permanent exclusion is when the school decides that your child can no longer continue to be educated there, and must continue his or her education in an alternative setting.
If your child is excluded for a fixed period of time, it is the parents’ – and the child’s – responsibility to ensure that he or she keeps up with all schoolwork while they are at home. A suspension is not a home holiday for the child, and they will have to complete all work missed to a satisfactory level. The school has the responsibility to send homework to your child.
If your child is excluded permanently, you will be contacted as soon as possible – often by phone – and the headteacher will explain the details of what has happened. It is the headteacher’s duty to also inform parents about previous problems with behaviour, as well as previous warnings that have been given to your child.
You will be given the opportunity to come in and speak with the headteacher about the exclusion, and also talk to the governors – in fact, the governing body will have reviewed and supported the permanent exclusion. There is usually a set period of time in which this meeting will be held.
Remember, the school has to give set reasons behind your child’s exclusion, and also has to set these reasons out in writing and send them to you within a set period of time, which is usually about a week.
Making an AppealIf you are not happy with your child’s permanent exclusion, you have the right to appeal the school’s decision. You can contact your Local Education Authority (LEA) and make an appeal in writing, either through the post or online.
Once you make an appeal, it will be heard by an Independent Appeal Panel, which will have three members: a governor of a school, a headteacher and a lay member who is not a paid school staff member. The headteacher of your child’s school, a governor and an LEA officer will also be present.
You can bring someone with you, either for support or to help present your case, or you can have the case tried in your absence (which is less likely to result in a positive outcome for you). There is a set protocol that will be followed; you can ask your LEA what will happen in your area.
The panel will then decide whether or not your child was responsible for their behaviour, and whether a permanent exclusion was the best course of action to take. There is a choice of three possible outcomes:
- Your appeal will be refused.
- Your child will be reinstated in the school, either immediately or soon.
- Your child could be reinstated at a different school, as the panel will decide that a permanent exclusion was wrong, but that going back to the same school would be detrimental.