The Guardian is reporting that the government is being urged to hold headteachers to a higher duty of care when excluding children from school to ensure they are met by a parent or carer.
Current school exclusion guidance states that heads must take account of their legal duty when sending an excluded pupil home, but campaigners say in practice heads often simply inform parents and ensure the child leaves the premises.
According to the School Exclusion Project (SEP), which provides free legal representation to parents appealing against their child’s permanent exclusion from school, this puts already vulnerable children at further risk. It is calling for a change to the guidance to ensure that vulnerable children are not sent home without adequate supervision.
The issue will be raised in the House of Lords on Tuesday by Lord Lupton. According to the notice of upcoming Lords business, the Conservative peer will ask the government to consider “introducing a higher duty of care on headteachers when excluding children aged under 16 from their schools to ensure that such children are in practice met by a parent, guardian or approved carer”.
Mark Greaves, the SEP’s chief director, welcomed Lupton’s interest. “In our experience, in practice, most headteachers simply notify the parents – as they are legally required to do – and ensure that the child does not remain on site,” Greaves said.
“However, it is our view that it is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the guidance to place a higher duty on headteachers when it is necessary for the protection of vulnerable children and a proportionate way of dealing with the issue…”
Is the School Exclusion Project raising a legitimate concern here over the potential risk to students who are sent away from school but without, potentially, a parent or carer knowing in time to be able to ensure their wellbeing?
Under the approach they are suggesting, how would you see that working in practice and what kind of practical problems might ensue?
Please give us your feedback to the points raised in the comments or via Twitter…
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