The Department for Education (DfE) has recently unveiled new Statutory Guidance concerning Suspension and Permanent Exclusion, which is set to come into effect on 1st September 2023.
These changes are aimed at ensuring fairness, transparency, and consistency in the processes of suspension and exclusion within our schools.
The term ‘exclusion’ has been replaced to encompass both suspensions and permanent exclusions, aligning the legal framework with the notion of ‘exclusion for a fixed period’.
Importantly, the DfE considered these changes an extension of their prior 2021 consultation, without conducting a fresh round of consultations.
Key amendments include updated guidance on the authority of Headteachers to rescind suspensions or exclusions under specific conditions. This empowers them to act when criteria like a lack of review by the Governing Discipline Committee and a suspension period under 45 school days within the current year are met.
Additionally, the introduction of remote access options for Governors’ Discipline Meetings (GDMs) or Independent Review Panel Meetings (IRPHs) is a noteworthy feature. While remote access is permissible, face-to-face meetings remain the preferred approach.
The guidance emphasises that remote access should not be the default choice, provides instructions for managing remote meetings, and is slated to be effective from 1st September 2023. Notifications about the availability of remote access will be communicated around that date.
It’s important to acknowledge that exclusions often undermine the educational lives of autistic and other neurodiverse children. Although the guidance does mention legal protections for disabled children, there’s room for further improvement in this area. Given the significance of this guidance and the broader topic of exclusion, I’m pleased to share that we’re planning sessions on school exclusions as part of our free legal seminars offered by the charity. Please check at www.annakennedyonline.com for updates on when these sessions will be held.
You can find a copy of the full Guidance document here: Link to the Guidance Document
Education plays a vital role in shaping our society, and it’s heartening to see efforts being made to enhance the inclusivity and fairness of our educational institutions. Let’s stay informed and engaged on matters that impact our children and their futures.
Sean Kennedy, Barrister