Independent Appeal Panel

 

How can we help?

 

  • Advice on Appeal to Independent Appeal Panel  and/or alternative education offered
  • Support at visits and interviews at alternative placements  and liaison with “excluding school“ and LA
  • Specific consideration of identified and unidentified Special Educational Needs and Disability or Racial Discrimination
  • Preparation of paperwork, representations and statements for the Independent Appeal Panel Hearing. Advice on witnesses
  • Representation at the Hearing
  • Advice on further steps: Local Government Ombudsman and Judicial Review

 

The Independent Appeal Panel

 

A parent or a pupil over 18 may appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) IF the Head teacher’s decision to impose a Permanent Exclusion is upheld by the Governors

The Hearing should be held not more than 15 school days after the appeal was lodged and should not take place at the school

 The panel must have three or five members made up of three categories: a lay member , a Head (or ex Head Teacher) and a Governor ( or ex Governor).

 

The appeal hearing

 

Generally the order is:

  • Head Teacher and his /her witnesses set out their case. Parties and Panel can question
  • Governors set out their case for upholding the Head Teachers decision. Parties and Panel can question
  • Parents set out their case (with or without the help of a representative) . Young person may speak. Parties and Panel may question
  • LA comment on process and procedure in other schools and within the LA
  • All parties sum up
  • Panel withdraw to make a decision

 

Reaching a decision

 

The panel should decide, on the balance of probabilities, whether the pupil did what he or she is alleged to have done.

The panel should consider the basis of the head teacher’s/teacher in charge’s decision and the procedures followed having regard to the following:

a) Whether the head teacher and governing body complied with the law and had regard to the guidance in deciding whether firstly, to exclude the pupil and secondly not to direct that he or she should be reinstated.

b) The school’s published behaviour policy, equal opportunities policy and, if appropriate, anti-bullying policy, Special Educational Needs policy, and race and disability equality policies; and

c) The fairness of the exclusion in relation to the treatment of any other pupils involved in the same incident.

Where panels accept that the individual committed the offence in question, they must consider whether the response is proportionate and also be satisfied that the disciplinary process has been carried out without any procedural irregularities of a kind that affect the fairness of the procedure or the governor’s findings.

The panel must balance the interests of the excluded pupil, against the interests of all the other members of the school community including the risk of undermining the head teacher’s authority and the general climate of discipline within the school.

 

The decision

 

An appeal panel may:

  • Uphold the decision to exclude; or
  • Direct immediate reinstatement; or
  • Reinstatement at some future date; or
  • Decide that because of exceptional circumstances or other reasons it is not practical to give a direction requiring reinstatement, but that it would otherwise have been appropriate to give such a direction

 

The panel is independent. Its decision is binding on the parent, the governing body, the head teacher and the LA. The panel cannot revisit its decision once made.

The panel must let all parties know its decision by the end of the second working day after the hearing.  The decision letter must give the panel’s reasons for its decision in as much detail as possible.

 

Judicial review

 

If either the parent or the governing body considers that the panel’s decision is unlawful, or not a decision which a reasonable panel could have reached, they may apply to the High Court for a judicial review. This must be done no later than three months from the date of the decision. If a judicial review were granted, the court would consider the lawfulness of the panel’s decision. If it found the panel’s decision to be unlawful or unreasonable as above it could quash the decision and direct the LA to hold a fresh appeal hearing before a newly constituted panel.