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Governors' exclusions panel: purpose and membership
Some exclusions require consideration by the governing board or a panel convened for this purpose. The panel is sometimes called an exclusions panel or disciplinary committee. Learn when one is required, the timelines for considering different types of exclusions, and who can make up the membership.
This article is based on the Department for Education’s (DFE) statutory guidance on exclusions, and advice from our governance experts, Vicky Redding and Keith Clover.
When a pupil is excluded, the governing board has a duty to consider parents’ representations about the exclusion.
The governing board will usually delegate that responsibility to a committee which we'll refer to here as an 'exclusions panel.' Your committee may have a different name.
Whether an exclusions panel is required and the power it has regarding the exclusion depends on the circumstances.
Where one is required, the selected governors should meet to review the headteacher’s decision. They have the power to do one of two things:
- Uphold the headteacher’s decision to exclude
- Reinstate the pupil
When you need to convene one
The board has 15 school days from the day it receives notice to consider:
- Any permanent exclusion
- Any fixed-term exclusion which brings the pupil’s total days excluded to more than 15 in a term
- Any exclusion that will result in that pupil missing a public exam or a national curriculum test
The board has 50 school days from the day it receives notice to consider:
- Any fixed-term exclusion that will take the pupil’s total days excluded above 5 for the term and the parents have requested a review panel
You can read more about when a panel is needed in our article on governors' exclusions panel.
The governing board decides who sits on an exclusions panel. In maintained schools, there must be at least 3 governors as described in The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013.
Academies can have smaller committees if their trust's articles of association permit it (see page 18 of the DfE exclusions guidance).
The panel should be impartial
Anyone who sits on the panel should have no prior connection to the pupil.
Governors should first only be asked if they're available to consider an exclusion. The name of the pupil shouldn’t be given to the full board.
Then, those chosen governors should be given the name of the pupil and they can notify the chair and clerk if they have any connection. Any governor with a connection should be replaced.
It's also good practice to only include governors with no prior involvement in the exclusion.
For example, if the headteacher has discussed the decision to exclude with you, you shouldn't then sit on the panel. Their role is to decide whether the decision was right, so you shouldn’t be in a position where you can 'mark your own homework' and judge the quality of your own decision.
There's no rule against staff governors considering exclusions, but it's unlikely that staff governors wouldn't have prior knowledge of the pupil. It could also be inappropriate for a staff governor because of their relationship with the headteacher, so it's normally best to avoid this.
Parent governors can sit on the panel as long as they don't know the child or their parents. This will be more likely in large secondary school than a small primary school, so it should be decided based on your school's circumstances. You should normally not have a parent on the panel if they have a child in the same year group as the pupil being excluded.
Associate members/people who aren’t trustees
Exclusions committees are treated as any other committee. Associate members of maintained schools can sit on exclusion panels and vote, as long as at least 3 of the other members are governors.
Similarly, people who aren’t trustees can sit on the panel in academies if your articles of association permit it. Check your own articles, but the model articles of association allow this as long as the majority of the members are trustees (see page 36).
Once the review panel is assembled, read about the committee's procedures in another article.
Vicky Redding is a governance trainer and consultant. She provides training, advice and support on effective school governance.
Keith Clover is a national leader of governance. He chairs an interim executive board and is an academy consultant for a diocese.
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