There seems to be a growing belief in some local authorities that there should be no permanent exclusions and that everything can be sorted out by managed moves between schools.
It is important to note that the law in England and Wales has not changed. Only the headteacher can exclude. It is for the governors to decide what is an appropriate standard of behaviour for the school and for the head (while having regard to any suggestions from governors) to make rules to regulate the conduct of students, including determining sanctions.
The effective elimination of fixed-term exclusion over five days is producing highly undesirable consequences, as ASCL predicted, and one of those is the need either to impose a succession of five-day exclusions or to exclude permanently; where previously it would have been possible to impose a long pause to give time for a proper programme of support to be put in place.
However, schools have duties to others in the building and they are liable for negligence if they allow damage to other students and staff and, under health and safety legislation, if they permit an unsafe working environment to exist.
Exclusion, including permanent exclusion, may be an essential part of fulfilling these obligations and the head is given the responsibility of determining this. With the increase in movement between institutions these considerations now increasingly apply to colleges also and colleges would do well to revisit their disciplinary codes and share them with partner schools.
© 2014 Association of School and College Leaders