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England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions >> Q, R (on the application of) v Wolverhampton City Council Independent Appeal Panel  EWHC 277 (Admin) (31 January 2005)
Cite as:  EWHC 277 (Admin)
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF Q||(CLAIMANT)|
|WOLVERHAMPTON CITY COUNCIL INDEPENDENT APPEAL PANEL||(DEFENDANT)|
Computer-Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR O HYAMS (instructed by BAILEY WRIGHT SOLICITORS) appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANT
MR J FINDLAY (instructed by WOLVERHAMPTON CITY COUNCIL LEGAL SERVICES) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
Monday, 31st January 2005
"There may be exceptional cases where the panel consider that the permanent exclusion should not have taken place, but that reinstatement in the excluding school is not a practical way forward in the best interests of all concerned. This could include situations where there has been irretrievable breakdown in relations between pupil and teachers; between the parents and the school; or between the pupil and other pupils involved in the exclusion or appeal process. Balancing the interests of the pupil and the whole school community may suggest that reinstatement would not be the most sensible outcome in such cases."
"There may also be exceptional cases where the panel consider that the permanent exclusion should not have taken place, but that reinstatement in the excluding school is not a practical way forward in the best interests of all concerned. This could include situations where there has been an irretrievable breakdown in relations between pupil and teachers; or between the pupil and other pupils involved in the exclusion or appeal process."
Then critically this sentence:
"Before deciding that there are exceptional circumstances the panel should try to establish what efforts have been made to address a possible breakdown in relations."
Then the paragraph continues:
"Balancing the interests of the pupil and the whole school community may suggest that reinstatement would not be the most sensible outcome in such cases. In considering whether such exceptional circumstances exist the panel should consider representations from the governors, the head teacher and from the parent..."
That sentence also appears in paragraph 10.4 as it appears in another version of the guidance which has been before the court, but it is unnecessary at this stage to refer to that version for reasons which will become apparent.
"In any case where the panel decide that reinstatement would have been justified but is not practical, they should indicate this in their decision letter and give details of the circumstances that made them decide not to direct reinstatement. Such a letter should be added to the pupil's school record for future reference."
"After careful consideration of your representations both oral and written and those of the Headteacher and staff... and in the light of the available evidence, the Panel has decided to allow your appeal against permanent exclusion. There has been a breakdown in relationships between [A] and the teachers, the family and the school, and between [A] and other pupils involved directly or otherwise and for this reason in the best interests of all concerned it is not practical to direct [A's] reinstatement. Your child's school record will show that the permanent exclusion was overturned on appeal even though reinstatement was not directed."
"During the Hearing, one of the Panel Members (Mr Gallagher) had pointed out to [A] that there were a number of possible outcomes to the Appeal, one of which was to direct reinstatement and asked A how he felt about that. [A] replied that he would keep himself to himself. Mr Gallagher pressed him further and asked, having regard to his school record, what he had learned from the incident. [A] said he had learned to walk away from situations.
"... [A's] mother, said she would work with the school to endeavour to achieve a smooth progression in the event of his reinstatement... [A] had never been in trouble with the police... [His father contributed to the debate by saying that the problem was not with [A] but 'with his school mates']."
As it happened the panel were not, according to the statement, particularly impressed by the sincerity of those remarks.
"In response to a question about how he would feel if he were to be reinstated back at the school, [A] replied that he had learnt his lesson and that he would go back and keep himself to himself, keep his head down and study. He added that in future, he would simply walk away from any confrontation. The Solicitor [that is Mr Storey] then questioned [A's mother] who stated that she had a strong desire for [A] to return to [the school]. She stated that she would work with the school, to try to get a smooth progression. She explained that [A] was always well behaved at home and had never been involved in any incidents involving the Police. The Solicitor then questioned [A's father], who appreciated the serious nature of the incident which had occurred in June, but wished [A] to return to the school, as soon as possible, believing that he had nothing to do with the attack on the Caretaker."
"I agree that the question of [A's] reinstatement was discussed during the appeal. [A] had indicated that he had learned to walk away from situations. I asked [A] and his parents about their views about [A] returning to the School. [A's mother] said that she would work with the school to ensure a smooth return in the event that [A] was reinstated. [A's] father was clear that he wanted [A] reinstated. There was no evidence to the contrary to suggest that there would be problems if [A] did return. [The high school in question] was the only school in the area where students could study GCSE Engineering and that made it so important that [A] returned there."
"Applying this guideline [which I read earlier] the Panel decided that reinstatement was not a wise option for the following reasons:
(i) The Headteacher was specifically asked, if the appeal was upheld and [A] was allowed back into school, how did he view this prospect. [The headteacher] replied that [A's] return to school could create an unmanageable situation for staff and pupils alike.
(ii) Under questions, [A] was asked how he viewed 'grassing' and how was it looked upon among his school mates. [A] agreed that 'grassing' was just 'not done' and hated by school kids. Under further questioning he agreed that anyone who 'grassed' would be scared of reprisals.
(iii) During questions regarding the written statements given by the pupils who identified A as an assailant, the anonymity of these pupils was discussed. [A's father] said, 'the names have been blacked out, but you can still read them', suggesting that those who had 'grassed up' [A] were known to him and his family.
(iv) The Headteacher told the Panel that anonymity of these witnesses was vital because they were fearful for their own safety.
(v) The assistant Headteacher... appeared very nervous and scared at times during the hearing."
"After a short adjournment and before summing up commenced, Mr Gallagher asked the head teacher... what would be the impact on the school if [A] was reinstated."
"I disagree with the comment made by Mr Carter in paragraph 8 of his statement. After the short adjournment, both parties summed up. It was at that stage in the course of summing up that the school indicated that it would be difficult if [A] returned to the School."
"I did not cross examine the headteacher on this point as it was made in his summing up and not in his evidence."
"However, in response when summing up, I submitted that it was not reasonable not to reinstate a pupil who was not responsible for an incident purely because it would undermine the discipline at the school for someone who had been previously excluded to be reinstated. There was no indication as to why it would be so difficult for the school."