Template for use for tracking children's behaviour
I recently attended a seminar about Exclusions at Winckworth Sherwood, GLF’s Solicitors. Although Permanent Exclusions are rare in our schools, there are several key points that were important for future reference. The full briefing document can be found below. If you have a student at risk of permanent exclusion please read through the whole document and feel free to contact me with any questions. email@example.com
Checklist for Lawful Exclusions
ü On disciplinary grounds only
ü In response to the behaviour of the student, not others.
ü A fair, reasonable and proportionate response to the misbehaviour
ü Compliant with Statutory Guidance
ü Compliant with SEND Code of Practice
ü Compliant with Equality Act 2010 generally
ü Compliant with duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students
ü Compliant with principles of natural justice
Permanent Exclusions must be all of the above and:
In response to a serious breach, or persistent breaches, of the Behaviour Policy
Where allowing the student to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the student or others in the school.
(“Others” includes members of staff not just other students)
The following applies to both Fixed Term and Permanent Exclusions:
Only the Headteacher can make the decision to exclude. In the Headteacher’s absence through illness the Deputy is deemed to be the Acting Headteacher but please seek advice from me or Mark Leach before excluding if you are unsure.
Children cannot be sent home to “cool off” this is an exclusion and the process must be followed.
Under the Data Protection Act, parents have a right to see any emails about them or their child. Please be very aware of this, ensuring all written correspondence between staff is highly professional as in the event of a Governors’ Statutory Review all evidence can be requested by the parents or their solicitors.
All exclusions whether fixed or permanent need thorough, fair and impartial investigation to reduce the risk of challenge:
· Write down everyone spoken to – including those who say they did not see anything.
· Evidence should be gathered from signed witness statements from everyone involved.
· It is fine for these to be scribed by an adult, read back, agreed and then signed.
· The statements should include one from the child / student involved. Where possible this should written on the day or the day after they are excluded. If they refuse to give a statement record that fact.
· Statements must be dated and headed with witness’ name and position in the school.
· Names should not be redacted for the school’s own records, only use initials if preparing for a statutory review.
· If there is CCTV evidence this should be preserved.
· You may exclude on “a balance of possibilities” having investigated the incident.
· In the event of criminal behaviour the Police should be called to take statements as a higher level of evidence is required.
· You can only exclude for behaviour out of school if your behaviour policy states you will.
Exclusion letters must include:
· The exact reasons for decision in as much detail as possible i.e. don’t just state “physical violence.”
· How this behaviour breaches the school’s behaviour policy.
· If an exclusion is as a result of “persistent breaches of the behaviour policy” it is best practice to attach the student’s behaviour log to evidence this.
· Reasonable adjustments that have already been made for a child with known or suspected SEND.
· The length of exclusion and confirmed date of reintegration meeting.
· Contact details for Coram Child’s Legal Centre (www.coram.org.uk) and a link to the Statutory Guidance (www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-exclusion )
· Confirmation of the right of parents to make a representation to the Governors via the Clerk to the Governors (include how to contact Clerk) alongside stating the student may be involved in this process.
· Confirmation that the Governors have the power to reinstate a student if a representation is made.
· In the event of a permanent exclusion only, a paragraph about the relevant Local Authority exclusion service which states that the LA can only attend the Governors’ Statutory Review Meeting as an observer to support the parents and will only attend if the parents invite them.
“Representations” include a parent phoning or approaching a member of staff to complain about or discuss an exclusion. Instead they should be invited to email or write to the Clerk to the Governors as once the Headteacher has made a decision to exclude, parents can only make representations to Governors.
If in doubt, please contact me or Mark to check legalities with our Solicitors.
Fiona Jarman GLF Behaviour Lead
Guidance on the school exclusion process is available on the GLF Schools website in the staff guidance governance section here. GLF Schools should be notified through the First Line Support service firstname.lastname@example.org if an exclusion will take the pupil’s total days of exclusion above 15 days for the term or longer than 5 days. Permanent exclusions should also be notified to First Line Support.
Legal Guidance from GLF Legal Support on Exclusions
Exclusions Update September 2017
The Department for Education has published new exclusions guidance which comes into effect on 1 September 2017. This will replace the previous guidance which was published in 2012 which remains effective until 31 August 2017 and still applies to exclusions under review which were imposed prior to this date.
A link to the new guidance is available here.
There are a number of changes set out in the document so it is important that those involved in the exclusions process are familiar with this new version of the guidance. In addition, if you are using template exclusion letters, these will also need to be updated to reflect the requirements in the new guidance. Our updated template letters will soon be available on our portal for Gold members of our School Support Service or they are available to purchase by other schools/trusts for a fee.
One difficult issue which is (partially) addressed is the question of imposing an interim fixed term exclusion while an incident is being investigated. The old guidance provided that a fixed term exclusion could be “converted” into a permanent exclusion, but the new guidance confirms that this is not possible.
Although a fixed term exclusion cannot now be converted into a permanent exclusion, it is still possible in exceptional circumstances to issue a further fixed term or permanent exclusion for the same misbehaviour. Generally this will be where further evidence has come to light. Headteachers should bear in mind that a fixed term exclusion is still subject to the exclusion guidance, so they must have sufficient evidence to justify imposing a fixed term exclusion.
If possible, the investigation should be completed before taking any decision on sanction. In reality, there will be circumstances where the initial investigation simply cannot be carried out on the day of the incident, but there is enough immediate evidence to be satisfied that the student should at the very least be excluded for a fixed period. In that case, the fixed term exclusion should be properly documented. It should also be made clear in the letter that the investigation is continuing, and that the sanction may be revisited in the light of the evidence gathered.
If, following further investigation, a permanent exclusion is justified, this must be separately documented as a new, permanent exclusion. That permanent exclusion will start from the date that the decision is made to permanently exclude, not from the date of the initial fixed term exclusion. Importantly, the guidance provides that this should only happen in exceptional circumstances – it may be difficult to demonstrate this if every incident of serious misbehaviour is routinely met with a knee-jerk fixed-term exclusion.
Witness Statements in School
Legal guidance from WS Law on the use of pupil witness statements in school.
We now have 40 members of staff across GLF who have received Physical Intervention (Safeholding) training through Securicare. The feedback from the three sessions was extremely positive, Jo the trainer is fantastic and I’m very happy that she will be leading the “Train the Trainers” course in June. I will meet with the six potential trainers once it is clear they have their accreditation and then I’ll be able to send out further details around the practicalities of offering staff training in each hub.
I have slightly adapted Securicare’s Report template to ensure that any use of restraint is correctly recorded. Incidents of positive touch (e.g. guidance or comforting a child) do not have to be recorded however any incident that results in a restraint must be written down using this form. If you have MAPA trained staff, please also use this form to record incidents as it has the holds detailed and I think will be a quicker than the old format.
All the risk assessments for each restraint and breakaway technique are in our GLF shared resources in the Behaviour Support / Securicare folder.
Securicare Physical Intervention Training
Words First - Educational Psychologist Potential Alternative
In the light of changes to the ways you can access Educational Psychologists Natalie and I have been looking at potential alternatives. I recently had a meeting with Amanda Davis, the founder of "Words First" an integrated literacy, language and communication services for primary and secondary schools.
The company was established to meet the need for services to support children with literacy, language and communication (LLC) difficulties including children with A.S.D. or dyslexia who do not necessarily have EHCPs. They use an approach that blends traditional speech and language therapy (SaLT) with literacy. They will support with the necessary assessments and wording for EHCPs and I particularly like the support they offer to parents.
Their prices are very reasonable and I would definitely recommend using them as an alternative to an EP once their services are fully traded in September.
£358 per day - which consists of 8 hours at the school to ensure teachers and parents can meet with the therapist.
Or if you have a high level of LLC need £13 934 (39 weeks) per annum for one day per week. You might consider the impact a weekly visit from a qualified therapist would have in comparison to a teaching assistant if you are currently recruiting TAs, it could be better value for money.
Preventing and Tackling Bullying
DfE advice (July 2017)for school headteachers, staff and governing bodies to help schools take action to prevent and respond to bullying as part of their overall behaviour policy.
Peer-on-peer abuse toolkit for schools
In collaboration with Dr. Carlene Firmin, Farrer & Co has published a toolkit to help schools prevent, identify early and respond appropriately to peer-on-peer abuse. It provides guidance on developing and introducing a peer-on-peer abuse policy and a template peer-on-peer abuse policy.