The governors’ role in exclusions
Most governors do not take on the role hoping or expecting to be involved in pupil exclusions but it is something that they may be called upon to do at times, and it is very important that their involvement is handled correctly.
Governing boards have a statutory obligation to have regard to the current statutory guidance when making decisions on exclusions and administering the exclusion process.
Current guidance can be found on the Department for Education websiteDepartment for Education website.
Each local authority (LA) must have a Fair Access Protocol to ensure that access to education is secured quickly for children who have no school place but for whom a place at a mainstream school is deemed appropriate, and to ensure that all schools in an area admit their fair share of children with challenging behaviour, including children excluded from other schools. Download the relevant Cheshire East Fair Access Protocol:
The governors’ role around pupil behaviour is to set policy and a framework within which the school should operate. Governors should not be involved in discussions around the behaviour of individual pupils or in direct contact with individual pupils in connection with their behaviour.
Not only is such involvement inappropriate in the context of governors fulfilling their strategic role within the school and allowing the Headteacher to manage the day to day activity, it compromises the governors’ ability to deal with their statutory role to review the Headteacher's decision around exclusions.
If governors have been involved in a direct intervention with a pupil they cannot be called upon to review a fixed or permanent exclusion for the same pupil. The IBA guidance states that ‘if any governor has a connection with the pupil or knowledge of the incident that led to the exclusion which could affect his or her ability to act impartially, he or she should step down.’
The Local Authority offers exclusions training which can support governors in increasing their understanding of the correct exclusion processes and procedures. Bespoke sessions for individual schools or groups of schools can also be arranged by emailing the School Governance Team or calling them on 0300 123 5036.
For those schools and academies who buy into the Cheshire East clerking service, there is the option to purchase the support of a Governance Professional to clerk the exclusions hearing process.
More information is available on the Department for Education website.