Everything possible should be done by all partners to ensure that looked after children are never permanently excluded and that fixed term exclusions are avoided.
If you become aware that there is any risk of permanent exclusion, please contact the Virtual School as early as possible to explore how this can be prevented.
All partners should work together and with the young person through the Personal Education Plan (PEP) process to develop and implement flexible and supportive approaches to address any difficulties and avoid exclusion/further exclusion.
‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending a pupil home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time (eg half a day), must be formally recorded.
There are two types of exclusion, fixed term and permanent.
Both types have to be formally notified by the school to the parent/social worker/carer and the Local Authority Exclusions team. The notification can be by letter, email or text but must include the length of exclusion, the reason for exclusion, the parent/social worker’s right to make representations/appeal and details of how to do this. This notification is usually in a letter, and is usually preceded by a briefer phone call. In Salford, our LA Exclusions team also informs the Virtual School team.
Fixed term exclusions
Fixed term exclusions are for a set number of days, between 1 and 15.
- A headteacher could lawfully fixed term exclude for:
- Repeated failure to follow academic instruction
- Failure to complete a behavioural sanction, eg a detention
- Repeated and persistent breaches of the behaviour policy. Even if the incident that has led to the exclusion would not have normally constituted a serious enough breach on its own a child can still be excluded if it is part of wider pattern of behaviour.
- Schools should take reasonable steps to set and mark work for pupils during the first five school days of exclusion; alternative provision must be arranged by the school from the sixth day of exclusion.
- In addition to this, in the case of a looked after child, some type of education should be in place from the first day following the exclusion, where possible and appropriate. This is likely to consist of work sent home by the school if it is a 1 or 2 day exclusion. Work that is provided should be accessible and achievable by the pupil outside school. For longer fixed term exclusions, a PRU placement could be secured or 1:1 tuition could be put in place but this must be arranged and paid for by the school.
There should always be a re-admission meeting on the first day back after exclusion, and the carer/parent/social worker should be invited. A school cannot refuse to re-admit a pupil on the grounds that a re-admission meeting has not happened.
Permanent exclusions are where a pupil cannot return to a school due to the seriousness of an incident, or for repeated breaches of the school’s behaviour policy. We have a strong record of not having any looked after children permanently excluded and all partners need to work together to continue to ensure that this is the case.
For both fixed term and permanent exclusions, there is a right of appeal and this must be clearly laid out in the exclusions notification letter.
Where a child is experiencing difficulties managing their behaviour in school there are various options:
- If a PEP meeting is imminent, ensure that supporting the child with their behaviour is included in the discussions and the PEP Action Plan.
- If a PEP meeting is not imminent, then an early review could be called to get all the partners round the table to discuss triggers/adjustments that can be put in place and create a preventative plan. This discussion should include the Virtual School caseworker.
- Check whether there is Pupil Premium Plus available to purchase additional emotional or psychological support for the child. For example, counselling.
- If a child also has an EHCP, this should be referred to, to ensure that sufficient support is in place in school.
- For Primary aged children in Salford schools, a referral could be made to the Primary Intervention Team (details via the Virtual School)
- The school could ask for an Educational Psychology consultation to provide some strategies for the child or the school. This could be via the school EP, who should prioritise LAC, or via the Virtual School commissioned EP. Contact the relevant VST caseworker if you think this may be beneficial.
- The school could ask for a speech and language consultation. This can done via the Virtual School’s commissioned speech and language therapist.
- If a child has had some specialist assessments already and school has been given advice, check whether school are following that advice.
- The Virtual School can deliver some whole staff training around behaviour related issued or hold a ‘Positive Outcomes Staff Meeting’ at school focussing on supporting an individual looked after child.
- Other agencies such as STARLAC could become involved to do a mental health assessment.
- The school can access training delivered by a range of agencies across the LA (CAMHS/EPs/Workforce Development/SSCB)
It is always better to be preventative, and the Virtual School works with schools generally around preventing exclusion, including ongoing training, support and advice.