Letters Extra: Did the Glyn Head have the right kind of support?

29th November 2002 at 00:00
Several points from Anat Arkin's report on the Glyn technology college exclusion fiasco (Briefing, TES , 15 November)nbsp;call for a response.

I was the education advice worker with a Leicester firm of solicitors with a Legal Services Commission franchise in education. Over the last four years I have had the opportunity to observe closely exclusions and the impact of circular 1099.

We offered advice and assistance to the parents of excluded children. Our clients did not need legal training to make use of circular 1099. Over the years I have distributed over 100 copies to youth workers, parents, social workers and young people. Nobody has complained that the circular is too difficult to understand. One parent, who told me that she is unable to read, kept her copy of the circular. I did hear that she was still using it to advise the tenants on her estate about inclusion a year after I last saw her. Of course circular1099 is not just a guide on how to exclude. It is also a guide to the inclusion of disaffected young people.

I too have attended an independent exclusion appeal as the friend of a parent when the school has failed to turn up. I sometimes wonder if failures to manage exclusion arise from a lack of commitment to inclusion. The most perfect set of exclusion papers I saw over the four-year period came from a Leicester school that is able to boast of its high commitment to inclusion.

Lastly I suspect that the Glyn fiasco does not arise from any lack of commitment from staff but rather lies in a fault with the original technology college vision. Separate from other schools, the technology college and city academy are isolated from the legal services department and admission and inclusion officers of the local council.

How difficult it is to find a firm of solicitors that specialises in education law and how inefficient it is for schools to isolate themselves from specialist LEA support.

An hour of legal advice for the Glyn exclusion probably cost the technology college the price of a repair to a broken window. Cheap advice is not good value if it is poor advice. Schools are better off paying nothing to solicitors but finding a place under the LEA umbrella where they are more likely to access the services they need when they need them.

Peter Thomson
Saffron Resource Centre
432 Saffron Lane
Leicester LE2 6SB

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