Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their child receives appropriate full-time education – in practice this usually means at school.
Most young children enjoy school – it is a place where they learn, have new experiences, socialise with friends and generally have a good time. As they get older, some young people become disenchanted with school life; however, most will complete their education without setback.
The smooth running of any school relies on a partnership between pupils and their parents and respect for the ‘school rules’. These include:
- children attending school regularly and arriving on time
- children playing an active role in school activities, including sports, music and cultural events
- children doing homework and engaging in off-site learning activities
- parents supporting their child’s learning at home and at school
- parents raising any concerns with the school, e.g. that their child may have Additional Learning Needs
- parents keeping the school informed about issues concerning the child.
Schools run more smoothly when everyone knows what is expected of them and they now recognise the importance of regular communication with parents. The means of communication varies depending on the school and age of pupils, but most schools use a mixture of printed letters, newsletters, emails and meetings to keep parents up-to-date with school life. Some have forums where parents/carers are encouraged to put forward their views about important issues.
Updated policies – uniform, behaviour, homework, child protection – are readily available on the school websites and each school has a complaints procedure which parents can use.
Parents with concerns about their child should approach their class teacher or the head teacher (or deputy).
School councils are a way of empowering pupils and giving them a voice.
Each class elects one or two children to sit on the school council. These pupils will represent the opinions of their classmates and raise issues with the head teacher and governors.
Some school councils are involved in staff interviews.
All schools have policies and procedures in place to promote good behaviour and prevent poor behaviour. These will be based on respect, fairness and inclusion, and will also reflect the school’s social, moral and religious position. Check the school website or ask the head teacher for details.
Schools now take bullying very seriously. All state schools must have a policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils, including schoolyard bullying and cyber bullying.
If you think your child is being bullied at school, report it at once.
A child or young person will only be excluded if they have seriously breached the school’s behaviour policy or if they pose a risk to the education or welfare of other learners.
No school will take the decision to exclude a pupil lightly. If your child has been excluded – either for a few days or permanently – it is usually as a last resort because all other measures have failed.
There are strict rules setting out how schools must deal with exclusions. You must be told why your child is being excluded and the school must arrange a meeting with you to discuss the exclusion and any conditions that must be met before the child can return to school. You have the right to appeal against the exclusion.
In some circumstances a pupil or learner can be expelled on a first or one-off offence:
- serious actual or threatened violence towards another learner or a member of staff
- sexual abuse or assault
- supplying an illegal drug
- use or threatened use of an offensive weapon.
These are criminal offences and the school would inform the police.
Your child still has the right to an education even when excluded, e.g. they may be sent school work to complete at home. If the exclusion is permanent and the child is removed from the school’s register, then alternative education must be put in place.