Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Reaching the point of no return

A recent judgement has stressed again the importance for a school, when permanently excluding a student, to present arguments as to why the student should not be returned to that school.

In some cases, an independent appeals panel may decide that there is not a good reason to uphold the decision to exclude permanently but that the student should not return to school if for "exceptional circumstances or other reasons reinstatement is not practical".

In a recent case, the lawyers for the child made a great deal of the wording of the legislation: "did the reasons have to be exceptional circumstances or could there be other reasons?" and so on.

The court did not go that far but it did decide that the panel must decide this issue separately and that this could only happen if the school had put forward reasons why it was not practical and the parents had a chance to answer them. Anything else would be a breach of fairness.

Those who have attended the ASCL MAPS exclusions course will remember that they have been urged to make sure that they do present arguments as to why the pupil cannot return. This judgement reinforces the point.

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