Exclusions; when can a governing body decision be quashed?
When making a decision about a permanent exclusion, an Independent Review Panel (IRP) can do one of three things:
- uphold the exclusion;
- recommend the governing body reconsider; or
- quash the decision to exclude and require the governing body to reconsider.
When the IRP quashes a decision, if the governing body do not reinstate, then the school has to pay £4,000. The IRP can only quash the decision if it considers "that it was flawed when considered in the light of the principles applicable on an application for judicial review." Judicial review is a public law term and is used to challenge the decision of a public body. Essentially a decision has got to be so flawed that it could not be regarded as a lawful use of the powers of the public body. The exclusions guidance explains the tests as follows:
• Illegality – did the governing board act outside the scope of its legal powers in deciding that the pupil should not be reinstated?
• Irrationality – did the governing board rely on irrelevant points, fail to take account of all relevant points, or make a decision so unreasonable that no governing board acting reasonably in such circumstances could have made it?
• Procedural impropriety – was the governing board’s consideration so procedurally unfair or flawed that justice was clearly not done?
There are literally hundreds of cases where these principles have been discussed and applied. When it comes to exclusions hearings some useful points to consider will be as follows:
- Was the school behaviour policy properly applied?
- Was the child given adequate warnings?
- Where there any particular circumstances of the child which should have been taken into account (especially SEN/Disability issues).
- Was the child given an opportunity to explain themselves?
- Did the Head have a reasonable evidence base to exclude?
- Where parents given an adequate opportunity to make points as part of the review?
- Where the points made by the parents responded to as part of the decision?
- Does the decision set out, in summary form, the reason why the governor reached the decision we did?