Every school has a behaviour policy, which lists the rules of conduct for pupils before and after school as well as during the school day. The policy should also say what the school does to prevent bullying. You can ask the school for a copy of the policy document.
Schools can punish pupils if they behave badly. Examples of punishments include:
- A telling-off
- A letter home
- Removal from a class or group
- Confiscating something inappropriate for school
The punishment should ‘fit the crime’ and should not be disproportionate.
Schools don’t have to give parents notice of after-school detentions or tell them why a detention has been given
Physical contact by school staff
School staff can use reasonable force to control and restrain pupils. This could include leading a pupil by the arm into a classroom.
Complaining about a punishment
If you disagree with the way your child’s been punished, first talk to the head teacher. If you’re not satisfied, ask for a copy of the complaints procedure and complain in accordance with the procedure.
Headteachers can exclude your child if they misbehave and breach the behaviour policy.
What happens when your child is excluded
Your child’s school should let parents know about exclusion as soon as possible and follow up with a letter including information about how long your child is excluded for and why. You should also be told how to challenge the exclusion.
Exclusions can start the same day but the school can’t make you collect your child straight away. For the first 5 school days of exclusion, it’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure your child isn’t in a public place during normal school hours unless there is a good reason.
Types of Exclusion
There are 2 kinds of exclusion:
- Fixed period exclusion (of up to 5 days)
- Permanent exclusion
Fixed period exclusion
A fixed period exclusion is where your child is temporarily removed from school. They can only be removed for up to 45 school days in one school year.
If a child has been excluded for a fixed period, schools should set and mark work for the first 5 school days. If the exclusion is longer than 5 school days, the school must arrange full-time education from the sixth school day, normally in a pupil referral unit.
Alternative Education and Exclusion
The school must tell you about any alternative education they or the local council arrange. It’s your responsibility to make sure your child attends. Contact the school for fixed period exclusions or the local council for permanent exclusions if they haven’t arranged anything after 5 days, or if you have a complaint about the education.
Challenging an Exclusion
You can challenge fixed period exclusions if a pupil has been excluded for more than 5 school days in a term or exclusion will mean they will miss a public exam or national curriculum test.
For exclusions of 5 school days or less, parents can ask the governing body to consider their views.
You can challenge permanent exclusion with the governing body. If the governors agree with the head teacher’s decision to exclude, you can appeal to the local authority and ask the local authority to convene a review panel or you can appeal to the Academy Trust if the school is an academy.
What we can do for you
We can advise you on how to challenge a permanent exclusion at a review panel, prepare the submissions and make oral representations at the review panel hearing.
We can also advise you the regarding legality of the review panel’s decision. We can advise you about bringing judicial review proceedings on public law grounds if such grounds exist.
We can advise you about Equality Act 2010, if your child has a protected characteristic and if you suspect that there has been discrimination on the part of the school or governing body.
For initial advice or to arrange a meeting with one of our solicitors, please contact us on 020 8299 6000.