Exclusion of Pupils from School Attendance for Disciplinary Reasons
East Lothian Council, Department of Education and Children’s Services acknowledge the vital partnership between schools and parents for support, behaviour and guidance of pupils. Pupils’ views must be taken into account in accordance with the principles of the UN Convention 1989 and the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 provides for the rights and responsibilities of pupils to be exercised in accordance with the age, maturity and understanding of the pupil. The Council is also bound by the policies contained in Circular 2/99.
In implementing the Council’s guidelines and procedures, Head Teachers and other Agencies must take into account the child’s best interests. The education and welfare of the individual pupils has to be given the highest priority in any balance the Head Teacher requires to make between the needs and safety of the school as a whole and the needs of individual pupils. In this respect, the Secondary School Head Teacher shall be advised by a representative of the Pupil Support Team at the earliest opportunity. The Head Teacher will be expected to take this advice into consideration and to advise the Pupil Support Team of the outcome.
The Council is committed to supporting the Head Teacher in doing everything possible to ensure good behaviour and effective attendance at school. Where there is indiscipline, Head Teachers must use all means at their disposal to bring about improvements in behaviour and this must include extensive contact with parents and other agencies, seeking their support.
Four criteria will be used to judge indiscipline:
- whether the effective education of the pupil is possible given the indiscipline
- whether the level of disruption to the education of other pupils is such that serious action must be taken to prevent this
- if there is behaviour which is dangerous to pupils and/or staff or as a last resort
- if the parent/carer is unwilling to co-operate with the school.
N.B. It is not appropriate to exclude a pupil for failure to attend school, as this does not meet either of the above criteria.
Under delegated power the Head Teacher may exclude a pupil for a maximum of 5 working days.
The aim of such Temporary Exclusion is to allow a cooling-off period during which the school, the pupil and the parent can consider and develop strategies that will help to bring about improvements in behaviour. Crucial to the success of any strategies is the willingness of parent, pupil and school to work together. Every effort is made to welcome parents as active partners in the process of improving behaviour, whilst recognising that changing behaviour is not easy and will require extensive and extended support. In East Lothian, the Department of Education & Children’s Services has delegated the power to exclude a child from school attendance to the Director of Education & Children’s Services, who has in turn, delegated to Head Teachers the power to exclude for a period of up to 5 days. Where the proposed period of Temporary Exclusion is longer than 5 days, the decision reverts to the Director of Education & Children’s Services. Under delegated power a Head Teacher is acting on behalf of the Council in any decision on Temporary Exclusion.
It must be emphasised that the delegation of power is to the Head Teacher, or in his/her absence to the teacher nominated to represent him/her. Therefore, only the Head Teacher, or if absent his/her representative, may sign letters dealing with Exclusion matters. Head Teachers ensure that a record is kept detailing incidents of pupil’s difficult behaviour and assessments of progress.
Exclusion (Removal from the Register)
A Head Teacher may recommend Exclusion (Removal from the Register) to the Director of Education & Children’s Services when he/she has serious doubts as to the ability to continue the pupil’s education in the school. A Head Teacher may not remove such a pupil’s name from the roll unless the Director has agreed to its removal and the pupil is on the roll of another school. Temporary Exclusion continues until the pupil is on the roll of another school. Where the Head Teacher wishes to recommend Exclusion (Removal from the Register) and is supported in that recommendation by the Director of Education & Children’s Services, the Head Teacher of the excluding school will actively help the Director of Education & Children’s Services to arrange for the admission of the pupil to another mainstream school where this is indicated.