Education

 

New Guidance on Suspensions and Permanent Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England, including pupil movement came into effect from September 2023.

The suspension and permanent exclusion guidance explains the legal responsibilities of professionals involved in suspending and permanently excluding children from school, including:

  • head teachers
  • governing boards
  • local authorities.

The new guidance uses the word 'exclusion' to refer to both suspensions and permanent exclusions.

Only a head teacher (or acting head teacher) or principle of an academy has the power to suspend or permanently exclude a child or young person. They must write immediately to parents outlining the reasons for the exclusion or the length of the suspension and inform the Local Authority.

Fixed-term suspension

A fixed-term suspension is for a fixed number of school days when your child cannot attend school. A suspension can also be for half a school day or for a certain period of the school day, for example, lunchtime.

Fixed-term suspensions may be used for up to 45 days per year or over 15 days in one term. This doesn’t have to be for a continuous period.

During the first 5 days of suspension schools are responsible for setting and marking work and parents are responsible for their child's whereabouts and ensuring they are not in a public without reasonable justification.

From and including the sixth day of suspension your child’s school must arrange suitable full-time education, if they are of compulsory school age (between the ages of 5 and 16).

Informal exclusions such as being asked to take your child home without formally excluding from the school is unlawful. You should not be asked to keep your child off school because the school is unable to meet their special educational needs.

What if I disagree with the suspension?

If you disagree with your child’s suspension, you have the right to challenge the decision and how you do this must be set out in the letter your child’s school sends to you about the suspension.

Meetings about the suspension

Schools will not usually hold a meeting if the child has been suspended for less than 5 days. You can, however, still request a meeting takes place.

You can ask the school's governing body to overturn the suspension if either:

  • your child has been suspended for more than 5 days in a term
  • the suspension means they’ll miss a public exam or national curriculum test.

If the suspension takes the child over 15 days of exclusion in a term the meeting must be held.

The meeting consists of:

  • a panel of at least three Governors
  • yourself and your child (you can be accompanied by a friend or someone to support you if you wish)
  • the Head Teacher
  • a representative of the Local Authority unless the school is an academy
  • a person to take the minutes of the meeting.

During the meeting the governors will introduce everyone. The head teacher will give the reason for the exclusion.

You will have an opportunity to speak on behalf of your child, they may wish to speak themselves or provide their views in writing.

The Governors can ask questions of both parties.

The Local Authority representative will give an overview of exclusion process and the factors the governors must consider in reaching their decision.

After both the Head Teacher and parents/carers have been given the opportunity to summarise, everyone except the Governors will be asked to leave the room to allow them to reach a decision.

The Governors can confirm the Head Teacher's decision to exclude your child or overturn the exclusions. You will be informed of their decision in writing and may be informed verbally on day.

If your child has a disability this should be taken into account when making the decision to exclude as schools are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that children who have a disability are not placed at a disadvantage to other pupils who don’t under the Equality Act 2010.

Disability discrimination claims have to be made within 6 months of the exclusion.

Headteachers should also consider the following:

a) an off-site direction (temporary measure) as a way to improve future behaviour and not as a sanction or punishment for past misconduct. Off-site direction should only be used where in school interventions and/or outreach have been unsuccessful or are deemed inappropriate and should only be used to arrange a temporary stay in an alternative provision or another mainstream school.

b) managed moves (permanent measure) as preventative measures to exclusion and involves the transfer of a pupil to another mainstream school permanently. Managed moves should be voluntary and agreed with all parties involved, including the parents and the admission authority of the new school.

Schools should support pupils to reintegrate successfully into school life and full-time education following a suspension (this may also be after a cancelled exclusion) or period of off-site direction.

Schools should work with relevant staff and multi-agency organisations, such as teachers, pastoral staff, mentors, social workers, educational psychologists or the safer schools team, to identify if the pupil has any SEND and/or health needs.

The law does not allow for extending a suspension or ‘converting’ a suspension into a permanent exclusion. In exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light, a further suspension may be issued to begin immediately after the first suspension ends; or a permanent exclusion may be issued to begin immediately after the end of the suspension.

Permanent exclusions

A decision to permanently exclude, means your child must leave their school on a permanent basis and receive their full-time education somewhere else (re-instated or the decision is withdrawn).

A permanent exclusion should only be taken:

  • in response to a serious breach, or persistent breaches of the school's 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.

Any exclusion from school can have serious implications for a pupil and should only be used as a last resort. Before deciding to exclude, the school must have tried all other methods of help to support your child in school.

A permanent exclusion can start immediately (on the same school day as the misbehaviour occurred) or on another school day.

Your child’s school will let you know about a permanent exclusion as soon as possible. They will follow up with something in writing, telling you the reason for your child’s permanent exclusion. If your child has a social worker or is under the Virtual School Head, they will also be told about your child’s permanent exclusion.

During the first 5 days you as parents are responsible for your child's whereabouts, you must make sure that they are not in a public place without reasonable justification during school hours. You could be prosecuted if your child is found in a public place when they’re not supposed to be.

If you disagree with your child’s permanent exclusion, you have the right to challenge the decision and how you do this must be set out in the letter your child’s school sends to you about the permanent exclusion.

Meetings about the exclusion

This must be arranged within 15 school days of you been notified of the exclusion.

This meeting consists of:

  • a panel of at least three Governors
  • yourself and your child (you can be accompanied by a friend or someone to support you)
  • the Head Teacher
  • a representative of the Local Authority
  • any witnesses to the incident
  • a person to take the minutes of the meeting.

During the meeting the governors will introduce everyone. The Head Teacher will give the reason for the exclusion.

You will have an opportunity to speak on behalf of your child, they may wish to speak themselves or provide their views in writing.

The Governors can ask questions of both parties.

The Local Authority representative will give their view of the exclusion.

After both the Head Teacher and parents/carers have been given the opportunity to summarise, everyone except the Governors will be asked to leave the room to allow them to reach a decision.

The Governors can confirm the Head Teacher's decision to exclude your child or allow them to return to school. You will be informed of their decision in writing without delay.

If your child has a disability this should be taken into account when making the decision to exclude as schools are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that children who have a disability are not placed at a disadvantage to other pupils who don’t under the Equality Act 2010. Disability discrimination claims have to be made within 6 months of the exclusion.

If the exclusion is upheld

If the permanent exclusion is upheld by the Governors then you have the right to appeal to an Independent Review Panel (IRP). You have the right to appeal within 15 school days of notice being given to you the parent by the Governors of their decision or within 15 school days of the final determination of a claim of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

The IRP's role is to review the decision of the Governors, although they are unable to reinstate your child at school. They can recommend or direct the Governors to reconsider the exclusion. You can request a SEN Expert at an IRP who can provide impartial advice to the panel about how SEN could be relevant to the exclusion.

Duty to provide education/alternative provision

Alternative Provision (AP) is described in the exclusion’s guidance as suitable full-time education that is arranged for a pupil from the sixth school day (or earlier) of a suspension or the sixth school day (or earlier) after the first day of a permanent exclusion. In other circumstances, AP may refer to education arranged for pupils who are unable to attend mainstream or special school and who are not educated at home, whether for behavioural, health, or other reasons. AP includes Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), AP academies, free schools, and hospital schools, as well as a variety of independent, registered, unregistered and further education settings (quoted from statutory guidance – 2022).

It is important pupils still received their education when excluded, therefore schools are responsible for setting and marking work during the first 5 days of exclusion. Schools still have duties to make reasonable adjustments for pupils with SEND. School’s may use online platforms for this to do this.

From the 6th day (and including) schools should now arrange suitable full-time education for any pupil that has a fixed term exclusion/s that will mean they will miss more than 5 days of school.

For Permanent exclusions, the local authority must arrange suitable full-time education for pupils to start from the 6th day after the permanent exclusion took place. In East Riding this is often in the form of home tuition until a new school placement can be secured. Where a child resides in a different local authority but attends an East Riding school it will be the home local authority that is responsible.

There is a benefit of alternative provision starting sooner, therefore where possible this should happen as soon as possible. For looked after children or a child with a social worker the LA and school should work together to try to arrange alternative provision from the first day.

Alternative provision can also be arranged for a time limited period when a child maybe directed off-sight (exclusions guidance 20-22).

More information on getting temporary education in place by the local authority can be found on the IPSEA website:

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/getting-temporary-education-put-in-place (external website)

More detailed information on the different steps, depending on the type of exclusion and for how long can be found on the IPSEA website:

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/what-steps-does-the-school-have-to-take (external website)

What has changed from September 2022? 

Points taken from page 8 and 9 of exclusion’s guidance:

  • headteachers can cancel a permanent exclusion that has not been reviewed by the governing board (sometimes known as rescind or withdraw). If happens parents, the governing board and the local authority (LA) should be notified and social worker and/or VSH (virtual school head) if involved (page 13)
  • If a child gets a fixed term exclusion or is permanently exclusion and is looked after or has a social worker the headteacher must now (without delay) notify the virtual school head and / or social worker.
  • Regardless of the length of the exclusion, headteachers must notify the LA without delay about the exclusion
  • New guidance on manages moves, what they are and the circumstances they can be used.
  • Guidance on social workers and the use of virtual school during governors’ meetings and independent review meetings
  • Further clarity on involving pupils in all aspects of the process
  • Clarification on use of off sight direction (page 20 – 23 Exclusions guidance July 2022)
  • Guidance for governing boards to review data to consider the level of pupils moves and characteristics of pupils who have been permanently excluded to ensure only used as last resort. They should also evaluate and challenge what data is saying, so for example if a lot of children with SEN are off-rolled they may want to review SEN support (Page 36 exclusion guidance July 2022).

What has changed from September 2023? 

New guidance and amended regulations about a headteacher’s ability to cancel an exclusion before the governing board has met to consider whether the pupil should be reinstated. This practice is sometimes known as withdrawing or rescinding an exclusion. If this occurs, the parents6, the governing board and the local authority, must be notified and, if relevant, the social worker and VSH. Further information on other actions that should take place following a cancelled exclusion is set out in paragraph 13.

  • Governing board reinstatement meetings and IRPs can now be held via the use of remote access (for example, live video link) for suspension and permanent exclusions if requested by the parents, provided certain criteria are satisfied. Meetings held via the use of remote access should not be a default option and face to face meetings should always be encouraged. Further information is set out in Part Eleven.

Suspension and Permanent Exclusion guidance July 2022 (publishing.service.gov.uk)

September 2023

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