What happens with permanent exclusions?

The short answer is that it varies so you need look in the funding agreement for the particular academy/free school with which you are concerned.

This is an area where, over time, and possibly even between academies created at the same time, different agreements have done different things. That, presumably, is because this is a controversial area. Also, perhaps, because it is an area where proprietors have sought to maximise the flexibility within which they operate.

The arrangements for permanent exclusions are normally in Annex D (previously  Annex 4) of the funding agreement.

The current model version (last revised in March 2011) applicable to new academies makes them behave like maintained schools (including having regard to Departmental Guidance, albeit with appeal panels which are to be “impartial” rather than “independent”). The formal linkage with the obligations on maintained schools means that, as those obligations change (as they often do in the ebb and flow of policy relating exclusions) the obligations on academies/free schools created using this model will change as well. The text then explains, correctly that:

A parent may seek a judicial review of a decision of an appeal/review panel relating to their child. A parent of a child excluded from an Academy may not complain to the Commissioner for Local Administration (the Local Government Ombudsman) about maladministration. This is because the Commissioner’s remit is limited to considering the conduct of appeal panels constituted by Local Authorities.

As above, academies created in the early days did not require academies to behave like maintained schools in that way. As time went on, some of the funding agreements directly incorporated some of the text from the then-current regulations and guidance dealing with permanent exclusions in maintained schools. But, as the regulations and guidance have changed, the funding agreements from the time have not changed. The could, of course, be amended by agreement but I am not aware that any have been. As ever – check the  funding agreement!

If an academy did not comply with the requirements of its funding agreement when it came to a permanent exclusion, parents/pupils could challenge that.

If the appeal panel did not comply with the law (including by not complying with the public sector equality duty), or did not follow the funding agreement that could be challenged by judicial review, or it is was a disability issue, by a claim to the SENDIST.

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