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Exclusions controversy continues

19 March 2012

An inquiry led by England's children's commissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson has found that some schools are unlawfully excluding pupils, putting increased pressure on the government to take action even though only a minority of schools are at fault.

Come September, new exclusions guidance will be in force replacing appeal panels with ‘review panels’ which have to apply complex judicial review principles yet no longer have the power to direct reinstatement. They can however recommend the school reconsider their decision to exclude and fine the school around £4,000 for failing to do so. In addition, cases of alleged disability discrimination will be heard by the First Tier Tribunal which can direct reinstatement and award damages and costs.

It’s hard to see the government’s message in their reforms. Schools must be able to exclude but are likely to think twice (especially if the pupil is disabled) or risk a financial hit. The reforms do not appear to appease anyone; the controversy surrounding exclusions is bound to continue.

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