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permanent exclusion query

Discussion in 'Governors' started by tesv, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. A secondary child has been excluded for bringing an offensive weapon into school. A craft knife which was used at home. Child wanted to complete artwork at school that day. Child showed two pupils, one of whom claims it was held close to their throat. The child in question denies this. the child in question is an exemplary pupil lots of awards, never in any trouble before. the reason for bringing craft knife was brought into school was to finish work.

    Parents are distraught and want to challenge the decision at the governers meeting.

    This was a one of incident although very serious, can the Disciplinary Panel take the child's previous exemplary record into account and overturn the Heads decision.

    advice please, what are this child's chances
  2. Effectively the governors have no discretion in this case - bringing a weapon in to school is one of the cases where the head has the right to permanently exclude for a first offence, and governors are expected not to overturn the decision (I had to deal with a similar case a while ago, and while it isn't explicitly stated in the regulations if you follow the trail of legislation and guidance from the DFE it boils down to "governors must follow ministerial guidance" and "the minister says no" - even the local authority exclusion officer who was normally keen to find any way to avoid permanent exclusions had to admit our hands were tied). If this is a temporary exclusion, my advice would be to live with it - there's no reason for a child to take a knife in to school, craft knife or not. Otherwise, your only way out is to persuade the head to change their decision.
  3. I would have to agree with anjorman on this one. Presumably the school has craft knives that can be used under supervision if needed, so there is unlikely to be any real valid reason for the child to bring it to school, let alone show it to two fellow students. I would assume that the school has a code of behaviour that includes possession of offensive weapons, and provided the exclusion is in accord with that policy then governors would have no reason to overturn the decision.
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    tesv, I chair the governors disciplinary panel at my school and my LA's Independent Appeals Panel, and I'm afraid to say that on the very brief information gven the chances of overturning the head's decision either at governors or on appeal to an IAP don't look good. The parents need to get advice and maybe representation at the hearing from ssomeone like parents advice centre, ACE, or a local law centre.
    Panels can take into account the previous good record of the boy but as the head will say that the exclusion isn't based on his record but for the one-off offence of carrying an offensive weapon in school the panel probably won't give the previous record much weight. The statutory exclusions guidance expects panels to uphold heads' decisons to permanently exclude for carrying an offensive weapon, although qualfies this with "where the basic facts of the case have been clearly established". You might persude the panel to overturn the head's decison if you can persuade them that the craft knife wasn't an offensive weapon, but the evidence isn't on your side. Why would a child need to bring their own craft knife into school? I've never come across that before - schools have their own craft knives. You'll need to have evidence that he was asked to bring it in by staff. If he brought it in for the purpose stated why did he show it to 2 pupils? Where is the piece of work he brought it in to finish? - ask the school for it and produce it in eveidence. You'll need evidence from his art/craft/design teacher that a lesson was timetabled that day, that the pupil had been told he needed to finish of the piece of work in that lesson, and that a craft knife was needed to finish it.
  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    If this is an exemplary student as claimed, there is no need to fear such a fixed-term exclusion being on his record - because if his further conduct is exemplary, it will never be referred to again.
    As a head, I have to say that governors shouldn't overturn fixed-term exclusions anyway unless the evidence regarding the 'offence' is poor and casts serious doubt on the guilt of the student concerned. Otherwise, the head, who is charged with keeping good order in school, must be allowed to make such decisions. In this instance, as others have said, the guidance on bringing knives into school is clear - moreover, overturning this one offers an easy defence to others, doesn't it?

  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    It's a permanent exclusion according to the title of the OP
  7. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    You're right - my apologies for not reading and absorbing the details correctly.
    Nonetheless, as others have said, the guidance on the bringing of knives into school is quite clear and doesn't say 'Unless it's a nice kid'.
  8. Thank you all for your responses. I do feel for this family but alas it seems there is no hope of the child remaining at the school. From what the parents say the head got in touch several times to ask if the parents knew any more details, she seemed to be looking for mitigating circumstances but there were non. the child is a perfectionist, had a presentation that day and took it upon himself to take the craft knife to school. (He got an award for the presentation bye the way) So because of 1 very silly mistake/ error in judgement, serious as it is the child will pay a huge price.

    Have advised parents to write to head, but don't hold out much hope. Parents are frightened at the thought of the child attending a PRU, as the local authority have said will be the next step.

    Totally understand schools position but it does seem very harsh.
  9. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    What used to happen, you see, is that articulate parents would argue the case with governors and/or exclusion panels (I had one such case, when son of middle-class parents brought in offensive weapon and actually injured someone with it, though he was not re-admitted to school); then, when the child had been let back into school, other cases would occur and a precedent had been set. The guidance is there so that heads can make the case forcefully that if a pupil brings a knife into school, they will be excluded, no matter what their previous record and then there's no room for subsequent 'Ah, but pupil A wasn't excluded...' arguments.
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    If I were chairing the panel and parents raised that argument I'd point out to them governors panels and IAPs cannot take into account how other pupils have been dealt with in previous incidents. The exclusions statutory guidance says that panels should consider the fairness of the exclusion in relation to the treatment of any other pupils involved in the <u>same</u> incident [para 156(c) ] but not in previous, unrelated, incidents. There is no such thing as 'precedent' (in the legal sense) in exclusions, although parents will often try to argue otherwise.
    Rightly governors panels and IAPs usually uphold heads' permanent exclusion decisions - of the 6,550 permanent exclusions in the latest figures IAPs only overturned 160 (less then 3%) and in 2/3rds of those they didn't direct that the pupil be reinstated to the school they had been excluded from. (There are no national figures for how often governors' disciplinary committees overturn a head's decison, but in my LA it is very rare). However governors panels and IAPs would be acting unlawfully if they approached their task on the basis that they should almost automatically uphold the head's decison. Cases where governors have done this have been before the courts more than once and had their proceedings overturned and been heavily criticised. Governors' panels and IAPs must act as independent reviewers.
  11. IT was NOT a Weapon, It was a tool.
    can the head teacher reconsider her decision?
  12. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Welcome to TES, errrrrr,,,, QT
  13. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    If you look back to what I said in post 4 I suggested the parents only realistic chance of overturning this was to show that the knife wasn't an offensive weapon but was legitimately in the child's posession to use for 'crafting' his project. You can't simply assert that it wasn't an offensive weapon though. It depends on its intended purpose (intended by the pupil ttatt is) and it has already been stated that it was being used for purposes other then a craft knife (holding up to another pupil's neck etc) . If the head's investigation concluded that was correct that would make it an offensive weapon. In any case the schools policy probably doesn't use only the legal expression 'ofensive weapon' but also referes simply to knoves - that's what all policies I've seen at IAP say - and it's certainly a knife.
    No, not if the exclusion has been reviewed and upheld by the governors' discipline committee. Subject to any appeal to an IAP this boy is no longer on the roll of the school as a registered pupil. The head couldn't reverse the decision now even if the head wanted to, but why would she want to?
  14. The discipline committee did actually uphold heads decision as expected but 3 further points were raised at the meeting.

    1. School omitted certain evidence from statements by child and whiteness so parents were treated unfairly, unable to construct a defence (full) Chair acknowledge this but stated that this may have confused parents.

    2. School agreed that the child had a spotless behaviour record but safety of many....few etc, but refused to even consider a managed move, nor did they inform parents of this as an option

    3. Child has a medical condition and school failed to support acquire statement to support him. Child stated that 'they take the mick out of me' 'they call me fat'

    Parents are considering appealing but feel child may not get the best reception in the unlikely event the decision is overturned.

    Thoughts Please
  15. I am concerned with tesv's last post here, especially item 3. It may be my cynical mind but doesn't the quote from the boy
    provide a possible motive for him to take the weapon into school for purposes other than craft work?
  16. Update, parents have decided to appeal. Any advice. The LA have confirmed the school failed to make "reasonable Adjustments" in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act. Childs condition means child can not use public transport so needs to attend local school within walking distance. GP and Hospital Consultant have confirmed this in writing. Child is vunerable. The school failed to concider this when making their decision. Should not te impact of the exclusion be equaly balanced with the effects of the chikd remaining at the school. As child has no history of missbehaviour it can be concluded that he does not pose a risk to pupils, staff or itself.
    Child currently attending PRU, staff are appaled and advised parents to appeal and are willing to support them. Stated child could not be provided with transport and the medical referal unit will not accept excluded pupils. Effect is child will be unable to attent school. Parents , grand parents, cousins etc are taking time off work tempoary to get child to PRUbut this can nor continue indfinately.
    Would welcome your thoughts and any adcice for the IAP.

    thanks in advance
  17. So, basically, if you have any slight claim to disability, you have a 'get out of jail free' card? The normal rules don't apply to you - you can even hold a knife to the throat of another child?
    Why can't his parents just accept that what he did was out of order, he has been excluded (quite rightly) and that, yes, THEY will have to put themselves out to get THEIR child to school.

    I hate this world where people, who know they have done wrong, attempt to subvert the law by exploiting technicalities. Shame.
  18. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    The only contributor to this thread who should be feeling shame is you grouch. It's disgraceful to suggest that having a disabled child is a mere legal technicality being used to subvert the law. It may have escaped your notice but the Disability Discrimination Act <u>is</u> the law and parents exercising their rights under it are obeying the law not subverting it. The only thing we know about the extent of this boy's disabilty is that the LA at least considers it's a disability under the DDA. The rest of us know nothing, and to describe it as only a 'slight claim to disability" when you know nothing concrete about it is just gratutiously insulting to the parents.
    tesv, it seems the parents have the makings of a case to put before an IAP. I don't know whether the school took necessary steps to take into account his disability before excluding. I recommend the parents get some proper advice and someone to represent them at the IAP. There are number of very good voluntary organisations that specialise in representing parents and being a child's advocate at IAPs when children have a disability or SEN. Your local Parents Advice Centre or ACE should be able to put you in touch.
    Note though that the LA has no power to determine that the school failed to make "reasonable Adjustments". That may be their opinion, but it isn't a legal finding. The IAP might take a different view.
  19. Let me tell you GROUCH. The patrents wholy accept thet the child has done wrong. However the school had a range of other options open to htem, some in my opinion more proportiate.
    AND yes they will do whatever it takes to get their child reinstated to the school for several reasons.God forbid you ever have a child who makes a mistake.
    <u>Claim of holding knife to another childs throat is in dispute.</u>
    -The school and IAP have a duty to concider the possible effects of the exclusion on the child in question. This includes the Disability. Why on earth do we have a Disability Discrimination Law if people cant use it.
    -the parents have a legal right to appeal, which if they fail they will accept.
    do aprechiate your comments as it will prepare the parents that they may come up against bigoted ignoramouses like yourself
    Shame on you, this is a vunerable child we are talking about. Parents and child are outraged to think the child may have alarmed the other pupil.
    Thanks again, at least we know people like you are still around.
  20. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    I think the OP should be feeling a modicum of shame too - for their mangling of the English language. I notice from tesv's profile that they claim to have been qualified (as a teacher?) for 5 to 10 year. I hope they are not a teacher of English ...
    I also note that no mention was made of the pupil being covered by the DDA when OP first posted ...

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