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Remote Access Meetings/Hearings in the Exclusion Process Have Now Ended

on Thursday, 31 March 2022.

As a result of the pandemic, the DfE made temporary changes to the School Discipline (Pupil Exclusions and Reviews)(England) Regulations 2012 (Regulations) to permit meetings/hearings to take place by 'remote access'.

This could only happen where the Governing Body of a maintained school/Proprietor of an academy (ie Board of Trustees) in the case of a Governors' Discipline Meeting (GDM), or 'arranging authority' (ie Local Authority for a maintained school/Board of Trustees of an academy) in the case of an Independent Review Panel Hearing (IRPH) were satisfied that:

  • all participants will be fully able to make representations or discharge their functions
  • all participants agree to the meeting being held using 'remote access'
  • all participants have access to the electronic means to allow them to hear and be heard and (where video conferencing is used) see and be seen, throughout the meeting
  • the meeting/hearing is capable of being held fairly and transparently

Where the criteria are met, all attendees will 'attend' by telephone or video conferencing software, rather than in person. 

In a multi academy trust, the Board of Trustees may delegate responsibility for the above to the Governing Body of the academy.

Crucially, the power to hold meetings/hearings by 'remote access' only applies to a 'relevant exclusion' which is one imposed between the dates specified in the amended Regulations. Having been extended a few times, the last specified date was 24 March 2022 and this has not been extended. This means that, for any exclusion imposed after 24 March 2022, the GDM and (where applicable) IRPH cannot take place by 'remote access'. Instead, all participants (ie governors, IRP members, parents, Headteacher and others) must attend in person.

As set out in last month's Academies and Schools Law Brief, the DfE recently consulted on changes to the Regulations and new statutory guidance, including allowing 'virtual remote' meetings/hearings in any circumstances in the future. The consultation closed on 31 March 2022 and any changes subsequently adopted are likely to come into effect from September 2022, due to the need to amend the Regulations to facilitate this.

Schools should note that similar changes made to the admissions appeals process to allow 'remote access' Admission Appeal Hearings do not come to an end until 30 September 2022.

If you have any queries regarding the above, please contact Joanna Goddard in our Regulatory Compliance team on 020 7665 0805, or complete the form below.

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