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Currently, after a permanent exclusion is reviewed by a governing body, if the exclusion is still upheld then the parent has the right of appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel. The new law will mean that Independent Appeal Panels (IAPs) will be scrapped and replaced by Independent Review Panels (IRPs), which will have reduced powers.
Unlike the IAP, IRPs will not have the power to reinstate a child back into the school.
Instead, IRPs will be able to recommend the Governing Body to reconsider their decision, or, if the IRP considers that the decision was flawed in light of Judicial Review principles, the IRP can direct the Governing body to reconsider. If the Governing Body still refuses to reinstate the pupil then the IRP can order the School to pay £4000 to the Local Authority, to be spent on alternative education for the excluded child. Judicial Review is an extremely complex area of law that panels have not previously had to deal with, and it remains to be seen how this will work in practice.
The other main change is that parents will be able to request that an SEN expert be present at the IRP hearing. The SEN expert will provide the panel with impartial advice on how SEN could be relevant to the exclusion. An SEN expert can be requested regardless of whether the school recognises that the child has SEN. The SEN expert is likely to be an Educational Psychologist or a SENCO, however again, it remains to be seen how this will work in practice.
These changes apply to all exclusions of pupils from state schools and Academies occurring on or after 1 September 2012.
We understand that having a child excluded from school is an extremely stressful time. We are able to guide you through the process, draft the grounds of appeal, and represent you at the hearing. Legal Aid is currently available for exclusions, subject to being financially eligible, although this will change from April 2013. Please contact us so that we can assess your eligibility. We also offer fixed fee rates for parents who are not eligible for Legal Aid.
For more information
Contact John Turner, Regulatory Lead on 0121 212 7433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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