Normally, the governing board hearing of the exclusion must take place within 15 school days of the exclusion being imposed. However, the governing board decision is not invalid just because it was made outside of this timeframe, and there will be times when it will be beneficial to the family for the governing board hearing to be delayed.
Some of the options covered in this guide can take time, particularly the managed move, which is a process that can require the family or the local authority to approach a number of different schools. It then requires a careful exchange of information between schools to secure their agreement with the arrangement.
The headteacher only has the power to withdraw the exclusion to facilitate an alternative, up to the point where the governing board convenes to consider the exclusion. Once the governing board has considered it, the headteacher loses this power, and the option of seeking an alternative falls away.
In addition, it can take a long time to obtain information through a subject access request or a freedom of information request. If you are missing critical information that you need to build a challenge to the exclusion, then it may be beneficial to request a delay to the hearing to give you time to obtain it.
You should keep in mind that this delay will have an impact on the young person. A delay may mean it takes longer for them to get back into mainstream education from a pupil referral unit.
Ultimately, it must be the young person and their families choice to postpone or go ahead, but you may want to flag these points for and against a delay of the governing board review:
Arguments for a delay
- The chances of successfully challenging exclusions are generally low, and an alternative is often a more reliable way to avoid it;
- Young people often spend significant time in a PRU after exclusion, so a delay to the hearing might not impact this period;
- Young people at critical stages, particularly in their GCSE years, will struggle to get back into mainstream school, which means raising a strong challenge or finding an alternative will likely justify the delay.
Arguments against a delay
- For young people whose exclusion resulted from one-off or out-of-character incidents, they might transition back into the mainstream more quickly. Therefore, a delay to the hearing might prolong their stay in a PRU;
- The delay can take an emotional toll on the young person and their family due to the stress and uncertainty;
- If you are waiting for evidence, unless it is critical, it may not prove impactful enough to justify the delay.
Asking the governing board
- Inform the person you are supporting of the benefits and drawbacks of seeking a delay and seek their agreement that you should ask for a delay. See downloads section for a suggested wording document.
- Gather any evidence in support of a delay. This will most likely be in the form of correspondence from the headteacher or local authority indicating that an alternative to the exclusion is being sought or proof that you have made a request for information that you are still waiting for.
- Write to the clerk to the governing board to ask them to postpone the hearing. See downloads section for a suggested wording document.
Once you have secured a delay, or if a delay is not required, exit this guide.