Normally, the governors' review of the exclusion must take place within 15 school days of the exclusion being imposed. However, the governors' decision is not invalid just because it is made outside of this timeframe, and there will be times when it will be beneficial to the family for the governors meeting to be delayed.
Some of the options covered in this guide can take time, particularly the managed move A process which moves a young person from the registration of one school to the registration of another by agreement between the family and the schools. which is a process that can require the family or the local authority A borough, county or city council that has responsibility for providing education to children in their area. to approach a number of different schools. It then requires a careful exchange of information between schools to secure their agreement to the arrangement.
The headteacher only has the power to withdraw the exclusion to facilitate an alternative up to the point the governors meet to consider the exclusion. Once the governors have considered it, the headteacher loses this power and the option of seeking an alternative falls away.
In addition, it can take a long time to obtain information through a subject access request The legal process for obtaining information about yourself or a person you are representing that is held by a school or other body. or freedom of information The process for obtaining information about a school or other body that is not personal to any individual. request. If you are missing critical information that you need to build a challenge to the exclusion, then it may be beneficial to request a delay to the hearing to give you time to obtain it.
You should keep in mind that this delay will have an impact on the young person. A delay may mean it takes longer for them to get back into mainstream school from a pupil referral unit.
Ultimately, it must be the young person and their family’s choice to postpone or go ahead, but you may want to flag these points for and against a delay:
For a delay:
- The chances of successfully challenging exclusions is generally low, and an alternative is often a more reliable way to avoid it;
- Young people often spend significant time in a PRU after exclusion, so a delay to the hearing might not impact this period;
- Young people at critical stages, particularly in their GCSE years, will struggle to get back into mainstream school which means raising a strong challenge, or finding an alternative, will likely justify the delay.
Against a delay:
- For young people whose exclusion resulted from one-off or out of character incidents, they might transition back into mainstream more quickly. Therefore a delay to the hearing might prolong their stay in a PRU;
- The delay can take an emotional toll on the young person and their family due to the stress and uncertainty, they may want to get it over with;
- If you are waiting for evidence, unless it is critical it may not prove impactful enough to justify the delay.
You can ask the governors to postpone the hearing in 3 steps:
- Inform the person you are supporting of the benefits and drawbacks of seeking a delay and seek their agreement that you should ask for a delay. Consider using the Suggested Wording: Providing Information to the Family on Seeking a Delay to the Governors’ Hearing.
- Gather any evidence in support of a delay. This will most likely be in the form of correspondence from the headteacher or local authority A borough, county or city council that has responsibility for providing education to children in their area. that an alternative to the exclusion is being sought, or proof that you have made a request for information that you are still waiting for;
- Write to the clerk to the governors A person with responsibility for arranging the governors’ hearing. They may also distribute evidence, type minutes and be your point of contact for the governors’ hearing. Independent of the school's staff. to ask them to postpone the hearing. Consider using the Suggested Wording: Asking the Governors to Delay a Review Hearing.
Once you have secured a delay, or if a delay is not required, exit this guide.