A new report from JUSTICE calls for significant change to the current system, including better training for schools on excluding pupils, a new Independent Reviewer of individual exclusion decisions and the possibility of appealing to a judge-led tribunal.
Just for Kids Law's Alex Temple was part of the working group that contributed to the report, chairing the sub-group looking at the Independent Review Panel process.
Alex Temple, Public Lawyer and Policy Officer at Just for Kids Law, said:
“We are proud to have been a member of the Working Party that contributed to this report, and welcome the report’s recommendations for reforming the process for families seeking to challenge unfair exclusions.
“Government statistics show that independent review panels find almost half of the exclusion cases they hear to be unfair, but these bodies do not have the power to overturn decisions. This power stays in the hands of school governors, who have a vested interest in supporting the headteacher’s decision to exclude someone – meaning that only a fraction of successful challenges result in a child being reinstated in school.
“We need root and branch reform to ensure a process that is fair for children and their families and pushes schools to work to meet children’s needs before resorting to exclusion. The report’s recommendation to replace the first stage governors’ hearings with an independent system, and ensuring appeals are heard by tribunals, is an important step towards an education system that puts the needs and welfare of children first.”