23rd June 1995 at 01:00
Q Can a pupil be excluded from national curriculum science on religious grounds?

A No. Some schools have been confronted with this question from minority religious sects - for example, fundamentalists who object to teaching about evolution.

Although schools will wish to handle these matters as sympathetically as possible. the only lessons from which parents can require their children to be withdrawn are religious and sex education.

Q This school has been confronted by parents who bring their son into school every day, in spite of the fact that he has been excluded. They say that they are both at work and cannot take care of him. What can we do?

A An exclusion, which has been carried out through the proper processes, has the force of law behind it, which means, if one took matters to a logical conclusion, that a court order could be obtained to restrain the parents from this entirely unreasonable behaviour.

Short of such an extreme measure, the best you can do is to arrange for an education welfare officer to return the lad promptly to the custody of one of his parents, wherever he or she might be. Having him delivered to the workplace might be sufficiently embarrassing to encourage them to seek alternative solutions to their problem.

The fact that the boy is excluded places him under the supervision of the local authority, who might conclude that he was out of the control of his parents and should therefore be made the subject of a care order.

Q Does the LEA have the power to reinstate a permanently excluded pupil when the parents have not lodged an appeal?

A Yes. The relevant legislation is the Education (No 2) Act 1986, where, in Section 24, it is provided that it is the duty of the local authority, where they have been informed of a permanent exclusion of a pupil, "to consider, after consulting the governing body, whether he should be reinstated immediately, reinstated by a particular date or not reinstated."

The italics are mine: many local authorities are inclined to overlook this important provision and to take action without reference to the governing body.

The question of the parental appeal is dealt with in two stages. When the permanent exclusion is made, the parents must be informed. They then have the right to make representations to the governing body or to the local authority, but this is not described as an appeal in section 23 of the Act. Section 26 requires the local authority to make arrangements to enable the parents to appeal against a decision not to reinstate the pupil, that is to say after the local authority has considered the case and made its decision.

Q We have been instructed by the Department of Social Security that our part-time visiting instrumental teachers cannot be self-employed, as they would like to be. Are we obliged to put them on the pay-roll?

A Yes. This is more a matter for the Inspector of Taxes, who has strict rules about what can and cannot constitute self-employment. The essential point here is that, even though the pupils may be paying for their tuition, the teacher is not entering into a private contract with them or with their parents, but with the school. So, while the teacher may be self-employed in respect of private tuition provided on his own premises, when he comes into school to work, he must be treated as an employee.

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