A ‘Governing Body hearing’, also referred to as a ‘Governors’ Disciplinary Committee’ (GDC), is a meeting that a school’s Governors must hold when the head teacher has decided to make a permanent exclusion.
If your child is permanently excluded, you should receive a letter informing you of the exclusion and that there will be a GDC. Your child has a right to a GDC. It is advisable to give written notice to the contact you were given that you will be attending. It need not be a detailed letter. The Governors have a maximum of 15 school days from the date of their notification to convene for the GDC.
A ‘Clerk to the Governors’ will be appointed, and they will be your point of contact for the formal arrangements of the GDC. The Clerk is the person to whom you should send any documents you want the Governors to consider during the GDC. If you want the Governors to consider any documents, make sure that you send them to the Clerk with plenty of time before the GDC (ideally five days before). The Clerk will be present at the GDC and will take the minutes.
The GDC usually takes place at the school the child was excluded from. There will be a minimum of three Governors, one of whom will chair the meeting. Any Governor with a personal connection or prior involvement with the child must step down.
A representative from the Local Authority may be present at the GDC. If your child has Special Education Needs, you can request that a Special Education Needs expert be present at the GDC in order to provide their opinion on the child’s needs, and what adjustments ought to have been made in order to meet those needs.
Neither the school’s representatives, nor the Local Authority representative, nor you, may be left alone with the Governors at any time. This is to ensure fairness for all involved. The only person that is permitted to be alone with the Governors is the Clerk.
The Governors must then decide whether or not they agree with the head teacher’s decision to permanently exclude the child. When making their decision, the Governors will consider a number of different things, including:
The Governors need to be satisfied that the exclusion was justified on a ‘balance of probabilities’. They do not need to be satisfied to the criminal standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. If the Governors agree with the head teacher’s decision, the exclusion can be challenged at an Independent Review Panel. If the Governors disagree with the head teacher’s decision, the exclusion is cancelled and the child can return to school. You will be informed of the outcome of the decision in writing. The letter you receive should clearly outline the reasons for which the Governing Body came to their decision.