A children's legal rights charity has launched an information hub to help professionals and community organisations challenge unfair school exclusions in England.
Just for Kids Law's School Exclusions Hub is an online resource with guides to relevant statutory guidance and template documents.
The website launch followed what the charity called “a huge increase in the number of school exclusions in recent years, with exclusions disproportionately affecting children with special educational needs and disabilities, children in care and children from BAME backgrounds”.
It said the process for challenging exclusions was highly complex, and professional advice and representation hard to obtain with legal aid being unavailable.
Less than 10% of exclusions were reviewed by independent panels despite almost 40% of those that were being found unfair.
Just for Kids Law policy officer Alex Temple said: “School exclusion processes are complex and legalistic. The government’s guidance on exclusions is 60 pages long, and the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice, which might also be relevant to an exclusion challenge, is 290 pages long.
“Parents shouldn’t be expected to challenge unfair exclusions without legal help, but professional support is hard to come by, especially outside of London.”
Just for Kids Law said that in England there were 7,900 permanent exclusions in the 2017-18 school year – a 70% increase since 2012-13.
In the same year, children with special educational needs and disabilities made up 44.9% of permanent exclusions and 43.4% of fixed-period exclusions.