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Need-to-know: DfE publishes temporary changes to exclusions process
New regulations, coming into effect on 1 June, will allow schools greater flexibility when considering exclusions during the coronavirus outbreak.
The regulations apply to maintained schools, academies (including alternative provision academies, but not 16-19 academies) and pupil referral units.
Here are the key points you need to be aware of:
Holding meetings remotely
If it's not reasonably practicable to meet in person within the usual exclusions timescales, you can meet via telephone or video conference as long as:
- Everyone agrees to this
- Everyone has access to the technology
- Everyone involved can participate fully
- The meeting will be fair and transparent (if it becomes clear after the meeting starts that it can't proceed fairly, the chair should adjourn the meeting)
Timescales for meetings of the governing board
If the time limit for you to meet to consider an exclusion has not already passed before 1 June, it can be extended as follows:
- Permanent exclusions, and fixed-term exclusions resulting in pupils missing more than 15 school days in a term – if it's not been possible to meet in person or remotely, the time limit can be extended from 15 to 25 school days
- Fixed-term exclusions resulting in pupils missing between 6 and 15 school days in a term (and the parent make representations) – if it's not been possible to meet in person or remotely, the time limit can be extended from 50 to 60 school days
If the time limit to meet has already passed before 1 June, you need to hold the meeting as soon as is practicable.
Timescales for applying for an independent review
For exclusions covered under the temporary arrangements, the deadline for parents to apply for an independent review has increased to 25 school days.
Schools must wait for this extended period to pass before removing the pupil's name from the rolls.
Timescales for meetings of independent review panels
Where the independent review panel hasn't been able to meet in person or remotely, the time limit to do so can be extended from 15 to 25 school days.
Which exclusions do these changes apply to?
- All exclusions that occur between 1 June 2020 and 24 September 2020
- Permanent and fixed-term exclusions that occurred before 1 June but haven't yet been considered by the board
- Permanent exclusions that occurred before 1 June and have been considered, if the board declined to reinstate and the time limit to apply for an independent review hasn't passed
- Permanent exclusions that occurred before 1 June, where a parent has requested an independent review but this hasn't happened yet
'Occurred' here refers to the first day of the exclusion (not the date when the decision to exclude was made or communicated).
See the statutory guidance for more detail on these points.