Apr 29 2010 By David Baker, Harrow Observer
hatch end school
A DISGRUNTLED parent whose child was expelled from a Harrow school has discovered that those sitting on the panels that made the judgment did not have the training to do so.
She has also unearthed, through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, data that shows Harrow has one of the highest rate of expulsions in the country, putting it second in the capital, and that almost 80 per cent of those booted out of the borough's schools have special educational needs.
Karen Kannair's son was permanently expelled from Hatch End High School 18 months ago, but the local government ombudsman ruled this week that there was maladministration in the decision.
The ombudsman found that the panel of governors and members on an independent appeals panel decided to kick out the teenager despite most of them not having the statutory training to legitimately make the decision.
As a result Ms Kannair has pushed to discover the alarming levels of expulsions in Harrow.
Latest figures obtained through the FoI Act show that 66 children were permanently expelled at Harrow schools; there were also 1,267 exclusions.
Hatch End High School, in Headstone Drive, Hatch End, had by far the highest number of exclusions, with 230, and was just behind Canons High School on permanent expulsions, with 10 in a year. Canons had 11 in the same year.
Ms Kannair has raised concerns that the level of those with special educational needs being expelled shows that Harrow is not doing enough to look after children with those needs.
She said: "From what I have gathered the majority of these children being expelled are getting kicked out are in year nine.
"It looks to me as if schools are getting rid of children with special educational needs because they want to maintain good results at GCSE level.
"This is completely unfair on those who, through no fault of their own, need additional help to achieve.
"There are a lot of parents that will just roll over and accept this but it is entirely unfair."
Between 2003 and 2008, 299 children were expelled from Harrow schools, only nine of whom were reinstated as a result of an appeal.
The ombudsman's findings have meant that training for panel members is to be taken far more seriously. But the council maintains that expulsions are always a last resort.
Catherine Doran, corporate director for children's services, said: "Our top priority is to improve the support for vulnerable young people as well as helping all children to attain the best results they can achieve.
"More than 80 per cent of our schools are good or outstanding and this is partly as a result of headteachers, on occasion, needing to make tough choices and exclude a small number of pupils who disrupt the schooling for the many."