How to Appeal against a School Exclusion
If your child has been excluded from a mainstream or academy school, there are several steps you can take.
1. Challenge the Decision
One of the first things you can do is ask the governing body of the school to overturn the decision if your child has been excluded permanently or for a fixed period over 5 days and/or the exclusion means they’ll miss an exam. The school governors won’t be able to change a decision if your child has been excluded for less than 5 days, but it’s still useful to contact them to raise any concerns you have with the exclusion.
2. Ask for an Independent Review
If your child was permanently excluded or you don’t have any luck with the governors, your next option would be to ask for an independent review panel hearing to be arranged by your Local Authority or Academy Trust.
You will be given an opportunity to put your case to the independent review panel in writing and at the hearing. The independent review panel will then have the option following the hearing to either:
- Agree with the governing boards decision to permanently exclude
- Recommend the governing body reconsiders reinstatement
- Withdraw the decision to permanently exclude and direct the governing body to reconsider reinstatement
3. Speak to Your Child about Counselling
It is likely being excluded from school will be upsetting and traumatising. If you notice your child isn't coping well, you could ask whether they'd like to speak to a counsellor.
4. Ask if Your Child's SEND were Taken into Account
If you believe your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), regardless of whether or not the school agrees they do, if you are appealing to the independent review panel, you can request that a SEN expert is appointed.
Their role would be to provide the panel with impartial and specialist advice on how SEND might be relevant to the exclusion. Furthermore, if you believe that the school didn't consider your child’s SEN when making a decision, contact our Education Solicitors for legal advice, as you may have grounds for a discrimination claim.
Statistically, children with SEND are far more likely to be excluded from school. It's usually the case that excluded students with SEND haven't been given the right level of support, which can cause difficulties, which lead to an exclusion. Students with a disability can expect schools to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate that disability and failure to do so can be grounds for challenging a decision to exclude on the basis of discrimination.
5. Consider Finding a New School
You could contact other local schools to find out whether they have any available spaces. But bear in mind that if your child is of compulsory school age, your Local Authority must provide them with education, which should normally be full-time in school, from the 6th day of an exclusion. Alternatively, some people might look into private schools.
6. Get Legal Advice
If the governors won't change their minds or you're unsuccessful in getting a review, then it's best to speak to one of our Education Solicitors and SEND Lawyers about what action you can take.
Tactics Used by Schools to Unlawfully Exclude a Child
By law, schools can only exclude children on the grounds of behavioural problems in accordance with their discipline policy and the decision is made by the headteacher. But, with increasing pressure to 'get results', some schools want to remove children in circumstances where there isn't a sufficient reason to permanently exclude them. This means that they look for other grounds on which a child can be stopped from attending school. Unless a child is formally excluded from school, preventing them to attend school at all or even just on a reduced timetable amounts to an unlawful exclusion.
Knowing exactly which methods schools use to exclude students is crucial for parents so that you can take action if your child is being targeted. Some common tactics include:
- Putting pressure on parents to withdraw their children from school, and threatening to exclude them if they don’t remove the child. Often parents are told if they withdraw their child it stops them having an exclusion on their school record.
- Keeping a child in isolation until their parents agree to move them to another school
- Informally excluding a child with SEND because the school says it can no longer meet the child’s needs, which could include only allowing the child to attend school on a reduced timetable.
- Straightforward, unlawful exclusions where a child is excluded without any paperwork being provided to formalise the exclusion
- Excluding a student for reasons relating to their academic performance
- Excluding a pupil for a reason which is discriminatory
It's unlawful for schools to exclude students on the basis of their academic performance, and your child's education shouldn't have to suffer because of bad decision-making.
Having to find another school at short notice can be stressful and difficult for parents, especially since some parents can end up paying hefty fees for private schools. Losing a place at school is devastating for children and their families, and can cause a lot of stress emotional trauma, as well as extra inconvenience.
How Simpson Millar Can Help You
Simpson Millar have the largest team of education law specialists in the UK. Our Education Solicitors and SEND Lawyers have successfully helped many families get the best outcome for their children. Contact us to find out how we can support you and your child.
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