There are potentially two stages to challenging a decision to permanently exclude a child. The first is at a meeting of the school governors. If they decide to uphold the decision to exclude the child, but you disagree, you can apply to an Independent Review Panel.
The governors have to consider any permanent exclusion, and they must hold the meeting to do this within 15 school days of being advised about the exclusion. This meeting has the power to reinstate the child either immediately or on a specified date. You must be invited to attend the meeting. You can be represented, and can also take a friend with you. Even if the governors agree with the permanent exclusion, you can ask for their decision to be reviewed by an Independent Review Panel. This panel does not have the power to reinstate the child, but it can direct the governors to look at their decision again.
For detailed information about what will happen in the governors' meeting, who will be there, and how to prepare for it, we recommend that you read the information provided in the guides and on the website of ACE Education, as well as checking government guidance (links provided below).
The Independent Review Panel (IRP)
The IRP's role is to review the decision of the governing body to check that it was properly made. The IRP cannot reinstate a child. It can come to one of three decisions about the exclusion. It can:
- uphold the decision to exclude;
- recommend that the governing body reconsiders their decision; or
- quash the decision and direct that the governing body considers the exclusion again.
The letter you get from the governors will tell you who to write to in order to ask for a review. You have 15 school days from the date of the letter to do this. It is important to send in your response in good time, as if you miss the deadline your application will be rejected.
At the same time you can ask for:
- attendance of an Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert if you think SEN are relevant to your child's exclusion
- attendance of a local authority representative. If your child is a pupil at an Academy, a representative of the local authority will only be invited if you ask for it.
The IRP meeting must take place within 15 school days of your application being received. The meeting may be adjourned if necessary.
For detailed information about what will happen in the Independent Review Panel, who will be there, and how to prepare for it, we recommend that you read the information provided in the guides and on the website of ACE Education, as well as checking government guidance (links provided below).
What happens if a child is excluded from school
ACE Education School exclusion
Coram Children's Legal Centre School exclusions
Statutory guidance for maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units on the exclusion of pupils