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Exclusion appeals not to be feared

As a governor member sitting on Independent Appeal Panels (IAPs), I would like to comment on some of shadow school minister Nick Gibb's confused beliefs on discipline and exclusion in your Summer Debate (August 26).

From his own figures, 17,870 pupils were temporarily excluded for physically attacking an adult, but only 950 were permanently excluded for the same reason. He seems to think it is difficult to permanently exclude for such an attack when the guidance specifically says that it is appropriate to permanently exclude for the one-off offence of "serious actual or threatened violence against another pupil or a member of staff".

The only people stopping pupils being permanently excluded for attacks on an adult are headteachers, as they are the only ones who can make such a decision in a school. Far too much emphasis is being placed on the artificial reduction of permanent exclusions by local authorities and the Department of Children, Schools and Families and not enough on whether the offence warranted permanent exclusion.

To suggest that an IAP constrains pupils being permanently excluded is completely erroneous. An IAP would find it very difficult to overturn a decision of the headteacher to permanently exclude where there is clear evidence of a physical assault of an adult, unless there were very extenuating circumstances.

Maybe Mr Gibb should look again at the figures. Only 0.87 per cent of permanently excluded pupils were reinstated, not the massive hoards suggested in his article.

He states that IAPs will be replaced by a right of appeal to the governing body. Does he not know that there already exists a statutory requirement for an appeal to the governing body of the school?

No headteacher has anything to fear from an IAP if they have carried out a thorough investigation and come to an appropriate conclusion.

Duncan Haworth, Neston, Cheshire.

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