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Exclusions

Fri 01 Sep 2017

The Department for Education has published new exclusions guidance which comes into effect on 1 September 2017. This will replace the previous guidance which was published in 2012 which remains effective until 31 August 2017 and still applies to exclusions under review which were imposed prior to this date.

A link to the new guidance is available here.

There are a number of changes set out in the document so it is important that those involved in the exclusions process are familiar with this new version of the guidance. In addition, if you are using template exclusion letters, these will also need to be updated to reflect the requirements in the new guidance. Our updated template letters will soon be available on our portal for Gold members of our School Support Service or they are available to purchase by other schools/trusts for a fee.

One difficult issue which is (partially) addressed is the question of imposing an interim fixed term exclusion while an incident is being investigated. The old guidance provided that a fixed term exclusion could be “converted” into a permanent exclusion, but the new guidance confirms that this is not possible.

Although a fixed term exclusion cannot now be converted into a permanent exclusion, it is still possible in exceptional circumstances to issue a further fixed term or permanent exclusion for the same misbehaviour. Generally this will be where further evidence has come to light. Headteachers should bear in mind that a fixed term exclusion is still subject to the exclusion guidance, so they must have sufficient evidence to justify imposing a fixed term exclusion.

If possible, the investigation should be completed before taking any decision on sanction. In reality, there will be circumstances where the initial investigation simply cannot be carried out on the day of the incident, but there is enough immediate evidence to be satisfied that the student should at the very least be excluded for a fixed period. In that case, the fixed term exclusion should be properly documented. It should also be made clear in the letter that the investigation is continuing, and that the sanction may be revisited in the light of the evidence gathered.

If, following further investigation, a permanent exclusion is justified, this must be separately documented as a new, permanent exclusion. That permanent exclusion will start from the date that the decision is made to permanently exclude, not from the date of the initial fixed term exclusion. Importantly, the guidance provides that this should only happen in exceptional circumstances – it may be difficult to demonstrate this if every incident of serious misbehaviour is routinely met with a knee-jerk fixed-term exclusion.

If you have any questions, please contact our School Support team on 0345 070 7437 or schoolsupport@wslaw.co.uk.

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