Riley wins appeal against “unlawful” exclusion from Colnbrook C of E, but family reject gagging order
Tom Pearson and Natalie Marle won their appeal against their son’s “unlawful” exclusion from Colnbrook C of E two weeks ago. But they have decided to move Riley anyway in the face of punitive measures imposed by the school.
The hearing with school governors on March 3 found that the permanent exclusion was unlawful and ordered Riley’s reinstatement as soon as possible following a “reintegration” meeting. However, the decision was conditional on the family accepting a gagging order and a ban on the parents entering school buildings – and Riley’s younger brother remained excluded.
Following 6-year old Riley’s was initial 4 day exclusion for the contents of his lunch box, headmaster Jeremy Meek permanently excluded him on February 4. Meek cited a “persistent breach of school policies” and “an irretrievable breakdown” of the relationship between the school and parents. Being advised the decision was unlawful his parents highlighted their concerns with the Slough Observer. Within 24 hours the national newspapers picked up the story.
Chair of the school governors Jean Pinkerton OBE pulled out citing other commitments, but the hearing was attended by fellow governors Theresa Fletcher and Jackie Eady, Roy Evans (Chair of the Board of Directors of Slough and East Berkshire C. of E. Multi Academy Trust), Headteacher Jeremy Meek and Executive Headteacher Paul McAteer.
Tom Pearson and Natalie Mardle were accompanied by legal counsel. They contended that the contents of his lunchbox and consequent breach of school policies were actions of his parents and unlawful grounds for exclusion. They also maintained grounds for excluding him on basis of breaching the school’s behaviour policy were “unsubstantiated”, citing his teacher, Mrs Birch, in his last school report saying say that “his behaviour is excellent” and “it has been a pleasure having Riley in my class”. His parents said they fully supported the school’s statement and policy on behaviour.
The Governors, “mindful” of the Education Act 2002 which prohibits pupils in England from being excluded for the actions of their parents, agreed to back down.
“We therefore determined that the exclusion of Riley should be withdrawn and for him to return back to school as soon as possible following a reintegration meeting.”
However, Riley’s parents says that during the reintegration meeting the following day the chair of governors attempted to impose additional conditions which were not acceptable. The school demanded a gagging order over the appeal decision, and insisted the parents would not be allowed onto the school premises – even demanding that Riley should be handed over to a senior member of staff to be taken into the school via the rear entrance.
Tom and Natalie told Colnbrook Views today they have therefore decided to put Riley into another school. However they have sent an official letter of complaint to the Education Funding Agency and are preparing to escalate the matter further:
If we are not satisfied with their findings we will then take it to The Rt Hon Sir Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education and to OFSTED.
They say they have also been waiting since February 10 for an appeal regarding the exclusion of Riley’s younger bother Jayden. No response has been received to date from the governors. A response outside of 15 days is unlawful according to the family.
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