L was permanently excluded from school following an incident where he accidentally knocked a member of staff over in the school corridor. L's friend had run towards him and, naturally, L turned to run away. He did not know anyone was behind him and he bumped into the member of staff entirely by accident. He tried to catch her as she fell and stayed with her whilst help was found.
L was sent home following the incident without any paperwork and was told that he could not return to school the following day. Two school days later, the school issued a permanent exclusion letter, stating that L had been permanently excluded for dangerous behaviour. L had never been excluded before this incident and was not a risk to the welfare of others in the school. Further, the term ‘dangerous behaviour’ was not defined anywhere in the school’s behaviour policy.
The family challenged the PEX on the basis that it was unlawful, irrational and procedurally unfair. The family requested access to CCTV footage of the incident so that the school’s written summary could be evaluated, but this was refused.
The PEX was upheld at first-instance by the Governors at the Governors Disciplinary Committee hearing. The Governors held that the exclusion was lawful, rational and procedurally fair. During the deliberation process, the Chair of Governors viewed the CCTV footage.
On appeal to the Independent Review Panel, the exclusion was quashed on each ground; illegality, irrationality and procedural unfairness. The Panel held that the mandatory requirements of notice had not been followed, the incident was a genuine accident and that access to the CCTV footage during the deliberation process was a procedural irregularity which resulted in the exclusion becoming procedurally unfair. The Panel directed that the Governing Body consider reinstatement of L and directed that the financial adjustment to their budget would be made if the decision was not made to reinstate L.
CEN Education Advocate, Ben Hale worked with the family throughout the case and appeared on their behalf at both the Governors Disciplinary Committee and the Independent Review Panel.