Government guidelines on excluding children from school in the UK clearly state that no child should be excluded in the heat of the moment, unless there is an immediate threat to someone's physical safety. More specifically, a child should only be excluded in such cases when both of the following are true:
- there has been a serious breach - or the latest in a series of serious breaches - of the school's policy on acceptable behaviour, and
- where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
Official guidelines further state that before a decision is made to exclude your child, the headteacher should endeavour to:
- ensure that there has already been a thorough investigation
- give your child the opportunity to offer a defence of the allegations, where practical
- carefully consider the available evidence
- make sure that the exclusion is as short as is possible
- investigate whether there were extraneous circumstances leading to your child's actions, such as whether where your child has suffered bereavement, has mental health issues or has been subject to bullying
- take into consideration the school's policies concerning pupil behaviour, as well as other legislation, if appropriate
Obviously, the more serious the allegations against your child's behaviour are, the more clear-cut the evidence against them must be. This is why only in the most serious situations, when someone is actually in danger, is it permissible to exclude a child in the heat of the moment. However, if you believe there has been a massive overreaction, then there are steps you can take.
How do I appeal against the head teacher’s decision to permanently exclude my child?
Your first step should be to write to the governing board of the school, informing them of your desire to appeal the head teacher’s decision, after which you will be offered a date to attend a hearing. Preparation at this stage is key and you must make sure that you do the following:
- read and understand the school's official guidelines thoroughly
- stick to the guidelines scrupulously - you don't want to diminish your case's chances by not following official procedure closely enough
- collect all relevant evidence that might help support you in your case
If governing board decides not to reinstate your child you can make an application to request an Independent Review Panel hearing to review the decision. You need to do this within 15 school days of notice of the decision being given to you, or, if an application has not been made within this time frame, within 15 school days of the final determination of a claim of discrimination, in relation to the exclusion, which has been progressed under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
If the Independent Review Panel confirms the validity of your child's exclusion, the Local Authority will be obliged to find him or her a place in a different school, or else provide alternative education outside of school.
Match Solicitors have an excellent record of representing parents and children at such appeals. We have a highly qualified and experienced team of dedicated education specialists who can offer expert advice and guidance throughout the appeal process. If your child has been excluded in the heat of the moment, call us today and we can discuss your case in complete confidence.