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Existing procedures for excluding children from school are cumbersome and tend to magnify conflict, the education c...
Existing procedures for excluding children from school are cumbersome and tend to magnify conflict, the education committee of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities has said.

The committee has agreed a new approach designed to 'resolve difficult situations rather than make them worse'.

Graham Lane, committee chair, said: 'Everybody has been deeply distressed by recent events which have highlighted the difficulties that arise over treatment of children with behaviour problems. Heads, teachers, governors, local education authorities, parents, and indeed children themselves, know the present system is not working.

'What we have attempted to do is to suggest a way forward that will require all the key participants to work together to find appropriate solutions instead of driving them to take up entrenched positions.'

The AMA proposals start from the belief that young people should only be excluded from a mainstream school as a last resort.

Schools would get more flexibility to suspend disruptive pupils and headteachers would retain the right to take the initial decision to make a permanent exclusion. But the biggest change proposed by the AMA is over what happens next.

Where parents disagree with the head's decision, their views would be heard by governors and the local education authority acting together through a joint panel. This would cut out one stage in the existing process.

The joint hearing would take the form of a case conference rather than the adversarial appeal procedure, with the objective being the establishment of the facts and determining the best way forward taking into account the best interests of both the pupil and the rest of the school.

The panel would not only have the power to modify or overturn the exclusion decision but would have the capacity to identify positive solutions.

Parents would still have the right to an independent committee, whose decision would be final.

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