Exclusion Guidance

Recently, I have written a piece of guidance for the trust that I work for, in order to support the trust exclusion process. I was finding that I was being asked to support schools more and more with exclusions so I wrote a piece of guidance to help support this. I thought it may be helpful so posted it here. Please keep in mind that thsi has been written for schools who have Associate Principals and/or Executive Principals in academies but the general premise is the same for schools with different leadership structures and LA or maintained schools. The main changes between LA schools and academies are when parents make written appeals against exclusion decisions.

 

Exclusion Guidance

This guidance serves to support Head Teachers if they decide to exclude children. It sets out the difference between fixed term and permanent exclusions and it clarifies what constitutes to illegal exclusions. It also gives general guidance on the exclusion process, including time frames, and gives advice on what paperwork needs to be prepared for the Governor Review Meeting and/or the Independent Review.

This document should be read alongside:

  • DfE: Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England
  • The Trust Exclusion Policy

 

Guidance and policy

The exclusion process is part statutory and part non-statutory (it differs slightly between academies and local authority maintained schools) and the key driving policy behind it is the DfE policy mentioned above. The DfE policy governs the exclusion of pupils from local authority maintained schools, academies, free schools and pupil referral units. This also includes special schools (PMLD, SEBD etc) who are controlled by any of the listed educational establishments. All schools must follow the stipulated guidance from the DfE unless they have good reason not to. If in a particular case there is good reason not to, it would be good practice to document what was done and the reason why.

The Head Teacher or Executive Head Teacher can issue an exclusion to a child. If it is someone other than the Head Teacher (if they are away for example) it would be the next most senior person in the school, under direction and authority of the Head Teacher.

 

Types of exclusion

There are two legal types of exclusion; there are fixed term exclusions and permanent exclusions.

Fixed term exclusion – A fixed term exclusion can be issued by the Head Teacher and can be given for a number of days. The total number of days issued for fixed term exclusions can only be issued up to 45 days over an academic year to one child. After this, the Head Teacher must permanently exclude. If a child arrives from a previous school during the academic year, their exclusion days count towards the exclusion number for that academic year. Fixed term exclusions can be extended.

If a Head Teacher excludes a child, they must do so in writing. It is the schools responsibility to set work and mark work for (up to) the first 5 days of a fixed term exclusion period. On the 6th day, the local authority will have to provide education for the child for the remainder of the exclusion. If a child is excluded for 4 days and then the following week they are excluded again for another 4 days, neither of these take the consecutive number of days above 5 (although cumulatively they add up to more than 5) so the local authority would not need to intervene.

At the end of the fixed term exclusion, the school may choose to hold a reintegration meeting to welcome the child back to the school and ensure that they are ready to start back. This is not statutory although it is good practice to do so.

Permanent exclusions – A permanent exclusion is where a Head Teacher recommends to the Governing Body that a child is permanently excluded. The Head Teacher does not have the power to permanently exclude a child (this was introduced and quickly withdrawn in 2015) and they must recommend that this happens to the Governing Body. In practice, this means that the Head Teacher will permanently exclude a child and the Governing Body have the option to uphold the Head Teacher’s decision or reinstate the child, based on the evidence that the Head Teacher presents them.

A permanent exclusion can only be issued for one of two reasons. It can be issued for:

  1. A) a serious breach of the school behaviour policy

or

  1. B) Where a child persistently breaches the school 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.

 

Lunchtime and Illegal Exclusions

Illegal exclusions are when schools ask parents to pick their children up to take them home for time to ‘cool off’ or some other reason and the school does not record this as a formal exclusion. This is unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Any exclusion of a child, even for a short time, must be formally recorded.

Lunchtime exclusions count as ½ a day fixed term exclusion, even though they are only excluded for the lunch period. These are formal exclusions and must be recorded as such. Parents must be notified of these and the child is not allowed on the school site for the duration of lunchtime. These ½ day exclusions count towards the aggregate.

The Permanent Exclusion Process

If a Head Teacher decides to permanently exclude, there is a process that must be followed. This is detailed in more depth in the DRET Exclusion policy and the DfE: Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England. Please see these documents for an extended view of the process. Below is a simple outline of the process for when a child seriously breaches the school behaviour policy. If the permanent exclusion is due to persistent breaches of the policy, please take this into account.

·         A child does something that is deemed to be a serious breach of the school behaviour policy.

·         The Head Teacher should delegate to a member of SLT, the duty to investigate the incident and collect any evidence (statements, behaviour slips etc) which would help them to form their judgement as to whether to exclude. There may only be a limited amount of information available at the time.

·         The Head Teacher should make arrangements to inform the parents of the decision ‘without delay’.

·         The Head Teacher should write to the parents, stating the reasons for the exclusion. There are template letters in the DRET Exclusion Policy. Please note that the reasons on the letter cannot change ensure that they are correct and cover everything.

·         The Head Teacher would then have to inform the Local Authority that they had permanently excluded the child (same day) and send a copy of the signed permanent exclusion letter

·         The Head Teacher would have to inform the Chair of Governors and remind them that they have to set a date (within 15 school days of the exclusion date) to convene with at least three members of the GB plus a clerk.

·         The Head Teacher would have to inform the CEO of the trust.

·         There would be a date set from the GB for a review meeting. The Head Teacher would write to the parents, informing them of the date and time of the meeting, that they may attend the meeting if they wish to do so, that they have the right to bring representation (which could be a friend if they choose) and informing them that they will make the paperwork for the meeting available.

·         The Head Teacher should make arrangements to prepare the paperwork for the meeting. After this section, clear guidance is given on what constitutes to this pack.

·         The Head Teacher must attend the GB review meeting. They will make the packs of information available, discuss their reasons why they have decided to recommend permanent exclusion and answer any questions the GB may have. The parents will also have the right to speak. If the parents do not attend, the GB review meeting will still happen.

·         After the Head Teacher (or both sides) have had a chance to speak, they will be asked to leave the room. The GB will discuss and once they have made a decision, they will invite the Head Teacher and the parents in to inform them of their decision. The GB will choose to uphold the permanent exclusion or in cases where there are serious flaws in the Head Teacher’s decision, they will choose to reinstate the child. If reinstatement happens, the child would be allowed back the next day.

·         The GB will write to the parents to explain their decision fully and explain the appeals process. They will also inform the LA. The letter must be sent out by first class post (deemed delivered on the second day after posting)

·         The parents have the right to appeal against the GB decision. If they do so, they must put this in writing to the chair of the GB with 15 working days after the decision to uphold the permanent exclusion. If this has not been done within 15 working days, then there is no mechanism to appeal again.
·         If a parents appeals, then next stage is the Independent Review Panel (IRP). The IRP role is to review the GB decision to uphold permanent exclusions. It must also consider the Head Teacher’s decision so, if it wishes, it can commence its own fact finding investigation. It can also scrutinise the evidence that the Head Teacher presented at the GB review. This panel is made up of 3 or 5 members by the Academy Trust. They must be made up of:

– a serving governor or a recent governor of another school

– a serving Head Teacher or recent Head Teacher of another school

– where possible, they must come from the same phase of education

– someone on the panel must have had exclusion training within the last two years

– there must also be a trained clerk, additional to the 3 or 5 members of the IRP

·         The trust must arrange the meeting. The meeting must be at a neutral and appropriate venue (this may be another local school).

·         The meeting must be heard within 15 days of the parents request to appeal the GB decision to uphold the permanent exclusion.

·         Pupils can submit written witness statements.

·         At the end of the meeting, the IRP will make recommendations. It has no power to reinstate the child. It can:

– uphold the GB decision

– recommend that the GB reconsiders its decision

– quash the decision and recommend that the GB considers the exclusion again

·         The only way that the IRP can recommend that the decision is quashed is if they consider the GB or Head Teacher’s decision is flawed. Flawed means:

– illegal (Head Teacher/GB acting outside the scope of their powers)

– irrational (e.g. outrageous defiance of logical morality)

– procedurally improper (the process was so flawed or unfair that justice was not clearly done)

·         Parents can make a request for a SEND expert to attend to consider the pupil’s special needs (even if there is no identified SEND) and this cost is to be paid by the academy.

·         There is no decision for the IRP to be unanimous and this is the reason there are 3 or 5 members to the panel.

·         The decision is binding on all parties.

·         If the decision is quashed or recommended for reconsideration, the GB must reconsider the decision within 10 working days. If the decision is quashed, the LA may order the Academy to pay £4,000 to the LA if the GB does not offer to reinstate the pupil within 10 schools days of receiving notice of the decision. This is the equivalent of a fine.

 

Paperwork to support the Governing Body Review and/or the Independent Review Panel Meeting

There is no specific requirement to provide paperwork in any particular format for both the GB review and IRP meeting. There are specific/certain things that should go into the paperwork in order to articulate the Head Teacher’s reasons for deciding to permanently exclude, in order for the GB or the IRP to uphold the decision. The Head Teacher should arrange to put together the information pack between the date that the permanent exclusion was issued and the GB review meeting. If a parent appeals the GB’s decision to uphold the permanent exclusion, the same paperwork (along with the GB letter to the parents) should be sued for the IRP meeting. Below is a guide of things that should be considered to be included:

Proposed contents

  1. Brief summary of the reasons to recommend for a permanent exclusion
  2. Exclusion letters
  3. Dates of exclusions
  4. Statements of serious incident (inc accident forms)
  5. Behaviour incidents for this academic year (inc accident forms)
  6. Support Summary and Impact document
  7. Positive Handling Plans (or behaviour plans)
  8. Pastoral Support Plans
  9. Communication with home
  10. Details of other external support

 

  1. Brief summary of the reasons to recommend for a permanent exclusion

In this section, the Head Teacher should write a brief summary of the reasons to which they are recommending the permanent exclusion. This does not need to be long and certainly does not need to be more than a page (less is fine). Once done, it needs dating and signing.

  1. Exclusion letters

Place in all exclusion letters in chronological order. These must be signed by whoever excluded the child (the Head Teacher usually). If it was the previous Head Teacher who signed an exclusion letter, this is fine.

  1. Dates of exclusions

This should be compiled in chronological order and should state the start date, the number of days for the exclusion and the return date to school. This would also include the date of the permanent exclusion.

  1. Statements of serious incident, including any accident forms (this is if the main reason is for a serious breach of the school policy)

This should include all witness statements about the particular incident, with the names of staff recording. This may also include statements that have been taken by staff from other children. Staff names are ok on the incident form but other children names should be redacted. If there were any accident forms or police forms relating to the incident, include these.

  1. Behaviour incidents for this academic year, including any accident forms

Same as above in a redacted fashion again. These must be in chronological order. From the start of the academic yeat onwards is fine. This may include photocopies of slips, behaviour books, pastoral logs etc.

  1. Support Summary and Impact document

This is in the trust exclusion policy. There are 3 pages but you may not be able to get the child’s voice (page 3) because they may have been excluded before this was possible (where a serious breach of the policy was the cause). Make sure all forms are dated and signed.

  1. Positive Handling Plans (or behaviour plans)

Any plans in the child’s history at the school. This is to demonstrate that you have, as a school, attempted to support this child. Put them in chronological order.

  1. Pastoral Support Plans

If there have been any done, put them in, including any reviews. Again, put them in for the child’s entire school history and not just this academic year.

  1. Communication with home

Any minutes from reintegration meetings (if you have them) or anything else which demonstrates that you have tried to support. If there is nothing, this is fine.

  1. Details of other external support

Referral forms, reports from agencies, information from school nurse etc. This could be put together as a chronology or just the letters and forms placed in chronological order.

 

Final Notes

The guidance is clear that the Head Teachers decision must be reasonable and justified. When investigating an incident, it may be difficult to prove everything. The guidance allows for this and says that the Head Teachers decision does not need to be a criminal standard of proof (proven beyond all reasonable doubt) but must be a civil standard of proof (that on the balance of probabilities, the incident likely happened)

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Posted on March 30, 2017, in behaviour, Education, exclusion, fixed term, fixed-term, reduction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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