Student Behaviour and Exclusions Policy

Student Behaviour and Exclusions Policy

1.   Statement
2.   Aim
3.   Related policies, legislation and guidance
4.   Responsibility and management
5.   Safeguarding and SEND
6.   Promoting good behaviour and rewards
7.   Code of Conduct
8.   Dress code
9.   GCSE rules
10. Disciplinary procedure and sanctions
11. Searching and confiscation
12. Records

Appendix A: Disciplinary investigation procedure
Appendix B: Grounds and procedure for searching and confiscation; use of reasonable force

1. Statement
Ashbourne promotes a culture of mutual respect, tolerance and collaboration between all members of the College community. This reflects the adult-style learning environment, high-quality teaching and individual support the College offers to enable each student to reach their potential and take the right academic pathway that will lead towards a fulfilling and successful future. Ashbourne expects all of its students to show the maturity, commitment and drive required to excel in this environment.

The College celebrates students’ successes, rewards their efforts and offers guidance and support to overcome difficulties they may experience. Ultimately, this encourages students to take responsibility for their own behaviour, their own success and the consequences that result from their choices. As part of the community, therefore, the College expects all students to respect and comply with the values and standards set out in this policy.

Ashbourne has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and sexual violence, bullying in any form and racist and sexist behaviour and abuse, including when this behaviour takes place online. Students are encouraged and supported to report any concerns or experiences, however small they may feel they are, as soon as possible to a trusted member of staff and/or the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) so that appropriate and timely action can be taken and support offered. For further information please refer to the College’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Procedures, Child-on-Child/Peer-on-Peer Abuse Policy, e-Safety Policy and Anti-bullying Policy.

Ashbourne expects all students to be punctual and to maintain an attendance record of more than 95%. Attendance is continually monitored, as required by law, and students failing to meet these expectations will face sanctions.

(Back to menu)

2. Aim
The aim of this policy is to set out the positive attitude to learning the College expects, the rewards offered to motivate students and the code of conduct necessary to enable every student to feel respected and confident in their learning environment. It also sets out what may constitute breaches of expected behaviour and outlines the procedures in place to manage improvement of behaviour and sanctions for misconduct.

3. Related policies, legislation and guidance
3.1 Related College policies

3.2 Relevant legislation and guidance

  • Behaviour in schools, Advice for headteachers and school staff
  • Behaviour and Discipline in Schools
  • Equality Act
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education
  • Searching, screening and confiscation at school
  • Use of reasonable force in schools
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice

(Back to menu)

4. Responsibility and management
4.1 Whole-school approach
Student welfare and wellbeing is vital to personal happiness, development and academic success. Ashbourne provides a great deal of individual attention to each student throughout their time at the College and from the outset encourages and nurtures healthy relationships and behaviour.

Ashbourne provides a comprehensive academic and pastoral support network for all students comprising teachers, personal tutors, senior leaders, designated safeguarding leads and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) support. The student council also plays a role in representing and voicing students’ rights and responsibilities. This support network is designed to create open communication channels so that behavioural issues and concerns can be identified early and addressed in a timely and appropriate way. The value of positive behaviour and healthy relationships is further reinforced through the compulsory PSHEE and Personal Tutor programmes.

4.2 Staff
All Ashbourne staff are expected to lead by example and are given the support and training to enable them to meet their professional duties and properly support students. This includes an induction and ongoing training and dialogue on how to keep children safe in education, legal responsibilities, safeguarding, SEND and awareness of mental health issues.

4.3 Parents
Ashbourne encourages active communication with parents and guardians through the Personal Tutor system, regular correspondence and information webinars in order to support and reinforce positive behaviour.

(Back to menu)

5. Safeguarding and SEND
5.1 Safeguarding and student welfare and wellbeing
Safeguarding is a priority at the College so any student behavioural issue or concern will always be considered from this standpoint. This enables the College to identify and manage possible concerns early, as well as unmet educational or other needs. All safeguarding concerns are dealt with in accordance with the College’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Procedures and may involve external agencies. All staff are inducted in and regularly briefed on keeping children safe in education.

5.2 Behavioural expectations and students with SEND
Attendance registers will indicate whether teachers should be aware of students with SEND. Where appropriate, the DSL will liaise with and advise teachers and other members of staff on how to manage behavioural issues and offer support for students to help them cope with similar situations in future.

Members of the SLT will determine whether a student’s SEND has contributed to any misbehaviour and whether sanctions are appropriate and lawful, as set out in the Equality Act and other guidance for schools. It will not be assumed, however, that poor behaviour is attributable to a SEND; each incident will be assessed on the facts and sanctions meted out accordingly. If any student, regardless of SEND, cannot abide by the code of conduct they may need to find alternative educational provision.

(Back to menu)

6. Promoting good behaviour and rewards
Ashbourne encourages and expects students to set and maintain the highest standards of behaviour, which include full and punctual attendance, the timely completion of all set work to the best of their ability and respect for the College and its community.

6.1 Student Council
Students have the opportunity to be elected or chosen as leaders for Ashbourne’s Student Council, where they will be expected to lead by example, including work ethic, and play a key role in supporting their fellow students to create a culture of responsibility.

Each member of the Student Council will be allocated a key role throughout the year to develop their leadership and management skills, in addition to representing the College and taking part in events such as parents evenings, open evenings and audition events.

6.2 Praise and awards
Ashbourne recognises the value of praise and encouragement. Positive reinforcement helps engage and motivate students to continue to do their best and take a lead in their own achievements.

Ashbourne holds Autumn and Spring Honour Rolls to award students selected for their outstanding academic performance also taking into consideration attendance, work ethic and their wider contribution to the College. As a general rule, students must have working grades of B or above and not exceed more than five late arrivals for that term.

The Honour Roll Committee dedicates a lot of time to assessing the eligibility of nominated students. They are happy, nonetheless, to reconsider the nomination of candidates who did not make the Honour Roll if the student can put forward a compelling argument to be included. Students wishing to have their nomination assessed should contact the Director of Studies outlining their case.

At the end-of-year celebrations Ashbourne also holds the Annual Awards for Year 13 students. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be given out for exceptional academic performance in subjects across the eight faculties. The Heads of Sixth Form invite nominations from members of staff who then meet to discuss whether students nominated should be elected.

(Back to menu)

7. Code of conduct
It is important to establish certain ground rules to ensure good order and to create a pleasant, respectful and safe environment for both staff and students. There are four core and compulsory rules concerning academic matters at Ashbourne; students must:

  1. Attend all classes on time.
  2. Submit all assigned work promptly and to the best of their ability.
  3. Show full commitment to their studies inside and outside of the classroom.
  4. Respect fellow students and staff.

The code of conduct and expected behaviour set out in this policy shall also apply, in appropriate circumstances, to students when they are away from College premises and outside the jurisdiction of the College, for example during half term and in the holidays. Any student’s conduct which affects the welfare of a member or members of the College community or which could bring the College into disrepute will be treated as a discipline matter.

The College understands that everyone makes mistakes and so supports students to recognise, improve and/or rectify their behaviour if it falls short of the code of conduct or expected behaviour. This may involve students taking extra time to catch up with required work, attending compulsory subject-specific clinics, Homework Saturdays, engaging in discussions to examine the impact of their behaviour and/or agreeing steps and targets to improve behaviour.

7.1 Lateness and failure to complete work on time
7.1.1 Students who are late for class, without good cause, may be refused immediate entry by the teacher so as not to disrupt the lesson; they may be permitted entry after a full explanation or following the lesson break.

7.1.2 Students who fail to submit assigned work by the deadline may be required by the teacher, Personal Tutor or member of the Senior Leadership Team to complete their work in the library before being permitted to join lessons.

Students will always be given full access to the course specification in order to complete the course. This may include subject-specific clinics, individual appointments with the teacher and revision classes.

(Back to menu)

8. Dress code
Ashbourne encourages students to be confident and independent so they are well prepared for the next stages of their academic and professional lives. There is no formal dress code at the College however students are expected to establish a careful balance between personal expression and suitability in choosing what to wear in a learning and working environment. This means wearing attire that is appropriate for such environments whenever students are on College premises, field trips, work placements or at other events and activities where they are seen to be representing the College.

As opinions and tastes vary so widely, and to avoid students being sent home to change, below is a short, but not exhaustive, guide to what the College constitutes as inappropriate attire for a learning and working environment:

  • Tops that expose the midriff, such as crop-tops and bra-tops, and/or that are strapless, backless or very low cut.
  • Shirts fully open that expose the chest.
  • Visible underwear or swimwear, including under see-through clothing.
  • Very short skirts or shorts, including skorts or similar attire (which should reach at least mid-thigh).
  • Clothing, accessories and/or tattoos that display language, slogans or images that the College deems inappropriate, e.g. relating to sexual connotations, drugs, swearing, abuse and/or political messaging.
  • Hats and hoods.
  • Footwear that impedes mobility and/or fails to provide adequate protection (and so poses a health and safety risk) such as excessively high heels and/or flip flops.

(Back to menu)

9. GCSE rules
Whilst the general rules and code of conduct apply to all students, there are some additional rules that apply solely to GCSE students, which are mandatory for school-age children.

  • Registration – students must be present for both morning (8.50am) and afternoon (1.50pm) registration at the Young Street reception. Any lateness or absence must be communicated to the College and authorised by parents or guardians.
  • Required parental consent – all GCSE students are required to be in school daily, 9am to 4pm. As such, the following activities require parental consent:
    • Leaving the premises for lunch – students who are under 16 may leave the site during the lunch hour (1-2pm) provided the College has received parental consent. If students do not have consent, they must ensure that they bring a packed lunch with them to the College each day. There is a designated lunch room and it is the students’ responsibility to ensure that they leave the room tidy upon leaving.
    • Travelling between premises – students are not permitted to move between Old Court Place and Young Street for classes without accompaniment by a member of staff.
    • Trips and activities – all GCSE students participating in school trips, regardless of these being organised during school hours or out of, must obtain parental consent in advance.
    • P.E. – all students are required to complete compulsory physical education once a week from 2-4pm in an off-site location. If a student wishes to travel home directly from the sports centre, prior parental consent is required.
    • No smoking – irrespective of their age, students caught smoking including vapes will be suspended immediately; this also includes carrying smoking paraphernalia on College premises.

(Back to menu)

10. Disciplinary procedure and sanctions
Ashbourne has a graduated scale for dealing with any disciplinary concerns related to student behaviour and/or academic performance.

Level 1 – minor breaches
Level 2 – repeated Level 1 breaches
Level 3 – serious breaches and persistent Level 2 breaches

Depending on the nature and severity of the breach the College will use its discretion in meting out any punishment or sanctions. Levels 1 and 2 are by and large minor or repeated minor breaches. Level 3 breaches are very serious and almost certainly lead to suspension, if not exclusion.

At all meetings to review behaviour the student will be given the opportunity to defend themselves and state their reasons for their behaviour.

10.1 Level 1
The following are examples of minor breaches, although the list is not exhaustive:

  • Failure to attend all classes and personal meetings on time, complete all homework/coursework/assignments to the best of the student’s ability and show a commitment to their studies inside and outside of the classroom; the College reserves the right to withdraw a student from lessons until they have properly completed their work, given fair notice.
  • Failure to respond to correspondence from the College in a timely manner.
  • Plagiarism – plagiarism is forbidden, and is illegal if published. Students who plagiarise homework will receive a formal warning and may face further disciplinary sanctions. Students who plagiarise coursework are likely to face disciplinary sanctions. For more detail please consult our Plagiarism Policy.
  • Failure to speak English at all times while in College.
  • Smoking – (including vaping and other alternatives) is not permitted anywhere inside the College premises and students should never handle smoking paraphernalia within the building. For more information please refer to Ashbourne’s Alcohol and Smoking Policy.
  • Use of mobile phones without permission in class – unless otherwise agreed with the teacher, mobile phones must be switched off and stowed away at all times during lessons. Students should be aware that inappropriate use of these devices can result in their confiscation. For more information please refer to Ashbourne’s e-Safety Policy
  • Failure to treat the libraries, common rooms and computer labs with respect appropriate to their purpose.
  • Wearing inappropriate attire – students will be sent home to change if they are wearing inappropriate attire. Please refer to the dress code above.
  • Repeated failure to wear the College lanyard – this lanyard is required for security reasons and for the health and safety of everyone at the College. For more information please refer to Ashbourne’s Lanyard and ID Policy.
  • Eating and drinking during lesson time without the consent of the teacher. Hot food is not permitted under any circumstances. Food brought onto the premises should, in general, be consumed in the common room, common areas or study areas. Students should be considerate of others and refrain from bringing any foods into the College that give off a strong or unpleasant odour.
  • Using the photocopiers – these facilities are for staff use only; students must request copies of material from reception staff.

10.1.1 Managing Level 1 breaches
Minor breaches are initially dealt with informally, usually by teachers or other members of staff, and may involve a warning and communication with parents and/or guardians. Personal Tutors will be informed through the College’s Management Information System (Academic Share) if the (mis)behaviour is repeated and will intervene where appropriate. Parents and/or guardians may not necessarily be involved at this stage however they are regularly kept in the loop about any concerns with student progress or behaviour.

Students are given the opportunity to explain or defend their behaviour. They agree with their Personal Tutor what changes need to be made to rectify or resolve the issue.

Specific academic issues, listed below, will trigger a Level 1 meeting with a Personal Tutor:

  • Low attendance
  • The student is late for classes five times within one half-term
  • Unacceptable number of outstanding pieces of homework within one half-term.

Where a students’ attendance falls below 95%, the Personal Tutor may revoke the student’s right to contact the College to report absences; this does not apply to GCSE students. If this is the case, the Personal Tutor will inform the student, parents and/or guardian that the Attendance Officer will only accept communication from an authorised adult if the student is unable to attend class.

10.2 Level 2
Repeated Level 1 breaches become Level 2 breaches. These will also be recorded in the College’s Management Information System and necessitate a meeting with parents and/or guardians, potentially resulting in final warnings, formal suspensions and possibly permanent exclusion.

10.2.1 Managing Level 2 breaches
Level 2 breaches (repeated Level 1 breaches) will require a formal disciplinary meeting with the student, parent and/or guardian and a senior member of staff such as a Personal Tutor, the Director of Studies or the Principal.

The Personal Tutor will set out the reasons for concern and allow the student to respond and explain their behaviour. Typically, a date will be set to review behaviour improvement with a summary of the meeting emailed to all parties. Failure to comply with improvements agreed at the meeting will lead to a subsequent meeting where the student may receive a formal (fixed period) suspension. Such a suspension must always be authorised by the Director of Studies or Principal.

Students will be required to complete the College re-entry procedures below following a formal suspension:

  • Write an email to the Personal Tutor (and other people involved) acknowledging the poor behaviour and explaining the steps that will be put in place to improve things going forward.
  • Attend a meeting at 8.30am (unless agreed otherwise), prior to the start of the day when they return. At the meeting, the Personal Tutor will reiterate the reasons for the formal suspension and ensure the student fully understands the implications and further sanctions that may arise should behaviour fail to improve: Level 3 – disciplinary investigation and possible exclusion.

10.3 Level 3
Serious breaches, many of which constitute illegal behaviour, that will lead to formal suspensions and/or permanent exclusion include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Physical assault against any member of the Ashbourne community.
  • Possession/supply/use of illegal drugs, solvents or their paraphernalia or substances intended to resemble them as well as unacceptable behaviour resulting from the misuse of drugs, solvents, alcohol and any other substances.
  • Possession/supply/use of unauthorised firearms or weapons, including knives, and replicas.
  • Possession/distribution of obscene material in any form.
  • Bullying, (including cyberbullying), blackmail, intimidation, threatening behaviour and inciting others to violence and other such misconduct.
  • Sexual misconduct: sexual violence (rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault) and sexual harassment (unwanted conduct of a sexual nature including sexual comments, jokes/taunting, touching or other physical behaviour and online sexual comments/messages and sharing of nude or semi-nude images and/or videos, or explicit content). For further information refer to the College’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Procedures, Child-on-Child/Peer on Peer Abuse Policy, E-safety Policy including cyber-bullying.
  • Racist, sexist, homophobic abuse or discriminatory behaviour. For further information refer to the College’s Anti-bullying Policy.
  • Abuse relating to disability, sexual orientation, religion and/or other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. See the Equal Opportunities Policy and Child Protection and Safeguarding policy.
  • Theft, vandalism and damage to property which may result in damages being applied.
  • Serious breaches of the Acceptable Use of ICT Agreement including computer hacking, inappropriate use of social media or online technology.
  • Exam malpractice in relation to any examination or assessment, including mock and controlled assessments, coursework, practical and/or official examinations; actual or attempted possession and sharing of (in whatever format or fashion) unauthorised confidential information about an assessment or examination.
  • Gross insubordination, serious acts of verbal and physical aggression and any misconduct that jeopardises the welfare and safety of any member of the Ashbourne Community including the student themselves.
  • Behaviour, whether on or off the College premises, that tarnishes or brings into disrepute the reputation of the College.
  • Malicious allegations against other members of the Ashbourne Community, including online.
  • Persistently poor behaviour and attitudes that conflict with the College’s ethos, including casual racism, sexism and similarly offensive behaviour.

10.3.1 Managing Level 3 breaches
Level 3 breaches that involve actual or threat of serious harm or risk to others or themselves and sexual violence, will be referred to Child Social Care (CSC) and/or the police in line with the College’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Procedures. Students will be neutrally suspended during any criminal investigations and/or investigations into serious misconduct until a formal outcome is reached. The College may consider permanent exclusion regardless of the outcome of CSC and/or police investigations.

Level 3 breaches include escalated and unresolved Level 1 and 2 breaches and serious misconduct. Breaches at this level will be investigated by the Personal Tutor and reviewed by the Director of Studies, Head of Year (where applicable) and the Principal. Students may be neutrally suspended during this investigation period with the prospect of permanent exclusion.

The disciplinary investigation procedure and appeal is set out in Appendix A. Students who wish to appeal must do so in accordance with the College’s Complaints Policy procedure, following the formal suspension.

10.4 Disciplinary measures and sanctions
10.4.1 Detention
The Principal authorises all paid members of staff, including operations staff, to issue detentions. Detentions do not require parental consent as long as they comply with the law; however parents may be informed where appropriate.

Detentions take place in College hours, typically during ‘free periods’, and at weekends during term time (except weekends preceding or following the half term break)for students under 18 years old. Special circumstances the student may have will be taken into consideration as well as including reasonable allowance for taking lunch, if relevant.

10.4.2 Temporary confiscation of mobile phones
Teachers are permitted to confiscate mobile phones during lessons when a student has repeatedly been asked not to use it in the class. Phones will be handed into reception and students will be able to collect them at the end of the lesson. Persistent breaches may lead to more stringent disciplinary measures.

10.4.2 Removal from class
Students may be asked to leave the class for serious disruption or misbehaviour and/or when they or others may be put at risk by their behaviour and/or actions. Students removed from class may be sent to the library to continue their work under supervision or a safe space to calm down. Removal from class will be recorded and is considered a serious disciplinary sanction.

10.4.3 Suspension
If a student is formally suspended their parents and/or guardians will be informed by telephone or email detailing the circumstances of the suspension and conditions of re-entry to the College. Formal suspension can only be issued following consultation with the Director of Studies. Formal suspensions will be recorded and held on the College’s suspension and expulsion database.

Suspensions can vary in duration – from one afternoon to two weeks, for example; but not exceeding more than 45 school days in any one school year – depending on the nature and severity of the misconduct. Formal suspensions may precede a permanent exclusion if behaviour does not improve after the period of reflection and redress.

10.4.4 Permanent exclusion
Exclusion is usually the very last resort for sanctions and not a decision the Principal will take lightly. However, for very serious, harmful or persistent misconduct students may be permanently excluded from the College.

Permanent exclusion would typically occur following a disciplinary investigation and meeting with the student and their parents and/or guardians. However, there are exceptional circumstances where the Principal may decide to permanently exclude a student for a ‘one-off’ offence including, but not limited to, serious physical assault, gross insubordination, possession of illegal substances or weapons, and action that seriously compromises the safety of any other member of the Ashbourne community.

(Back to menu)

11. Searching and confiscation
Given Ashbourne students’ overall good conduct and the generally excellent relations between staff and students, searching students is rare. There are occasions however when this may be necessary.

Searching may be required to find stolen property or illegal or other items that are prohibited. Searches will always be carried out with the student’s consent unless there are exceptional circumstances where not doing so may lead to risk of harm to the student or others, damage to property or causing disorder.

Confiscation may also be used as a disciplinary penalty. Staff may confiscate, retain or dispose of a student’s property as a disciplinary penalty, where reasonable to do so.

The law protects members of staff from liability in any proceedings brought against them for any loss of, or damage to, any item they have confiscated, provided they acted lawfully.

Please refer to Appendix B: Grounds and procedures for searching and confiscation; reasonable use of force.

(Back to menu)

12. Records
All suspensions and exclusions are recorded in the Student Database, with the name of the student concerned, the reason for the sanction and the name of the person administering the sanction. The Director of Studies is responsible for recording this information in the Suspension and Expulsion Database.

Authorised by The Principal
Date September 2023
Effective date of the policy September 2023
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request
Review date September 2024


(Back to menu)

Appendix A: Disciplinary investigation procedure and appeal
1. Investigation
Investigation of serious misconduct (Level 3 breaches) will typically be coordinated by a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT); the preliminary findings will be reported to the Principal. Parents/legal guardians will be informed of the incident and ongoing investigation, usually in writing, as soon as reasonably possible.

Internal investigations may be temporarily suspended where external agencies such as the CSC and/or police are involved, and the College has been advised to do so.

2. Interview
Where the investigating officer (IO), usually a member of the SLT, thinks it is necessary to interview any students about the incident(s), the student will normally be accompanied by another member of staff. The IO may conduct interviews without additional staff where delay may compromise the veracity of witness/evidence.

The investigator will summarise the relevant points from the interview and communicate them to the student and their parents and/or legal guardians.
The student may be asked to make a signed statement; this is used on a need to know basis, although the College may reserve the right to protect a student’s anonymity where necessary (for example, where they are at risk of retaliation or other harm).

3. Neutral suspension
A student may be neutrally suspended while an incident(s) is being investigated. A member of staff, usually a member of the SLT, will notify the parents and/or legal guardians of the reasons and period of suspension, as well as information about the procedure and their right to representation.
If a neutral suspension continues for more than five working days, the College will take reasonable steps to arrange and ensure educational provision.

4. Disciplinary meeting with the Principal
4.1 Notice
The student, and parents or other representatives if available, will be asked in writing to attend a disciplinary meeting with the Principal. The student will be made aware that a possible outcome of the meeting may be their permanent exclusion from the College.

4.2 Evidence
The Principal will review all relevant documentation and evidence from the investigation relating to the incident(s). The parents/legal guardians will receive a full report of the investigation (7 days) before the meeting and may submit any evidence they believe to be relevant.

4.3 Attendance
Students may request another member of staff to attend the meeting, as well as their parents or legal guardians. The student and parents/legal guardians will have the opportunity to state their case. Previous statements will still be taken into consideration.

4.4 Access arrangements
Students or parents/legal guardians with SEND who may require additional facilities or adjustments relating to practical aspects of the meeting, (e.g. documentation format, mobility access), should inform the College in advance.

5. Proceedings
5.1 Incident
The Principal will consider the incident and evidence, including any relevant statements made by or on behalf of the student. Unless he believes further investigation is required, the Principal will decide whether a serious breach of discipline has been sufficiently proved, based on the balance of probabilities, i.e. the student is more likely than not to have made a serious breach.

5.2 Outcome
Where it is decided that a serious breach of discipline has been proved, the Principal will outline the sanctions that he considers appropriate and proportionate. The Principal will take into consideration a range of factors including, for example, the student’s disciplinary record and any mitigating circumstances that may have contributed towards the behaviour.
The Principal will communicate the decision in writing within five working days of the meeting.

6. Permanent exclusion
A decision to permanently exclude a student from the College will take effect immediately after the decision has been communicated to the student, parent and/or legal guardians. Until that point the student will remain neutrally suspended from the College. If, within the period of neutral suspension, the parents/legal guardians have requested an appeal the student will remain neutrally suspended until the appeal review has been considered and a decision made to uphold it or implement the original sanction.

7. Status
In certain circumstances, if a student is permanently excluded from the College their formal status will be ‘excluded’. The Principal may offer parents the possibility of withdrawing a student, rather than carrying out a formal exclusion. In such instances, the Principal retains the right to disclose the reasons for the student leaving the College in any reference to other educational institutions. Parents/legal guardians who accept the option to withdraw a student forfeit any further right to appeal.

8. Appeal
A student’s or parents’/legal guardians’ request for an appeal on the Principal’s decision to implement sanctions for misconduct will be conducted through a panel hearing, as outlined in the Complaints Policy.

(Back to menu)

Appendix B: Grounds and procedure for searching and confiscation; use of reasonable force

1. Prohibited items
The Principal and authorised staff have a statutory power to search a student or their possessions where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the student may have a prohibited item listed below or any other item that the College identifies as an item which may be searched for.

The list of prohibited items include:

  • knives and weapons;
  • alcohol;
  • illegal drugs;
  • stolen items;
  • any article that the member of staff reasonably suspects has been, or is likely to be used:
    • to commit an offence, or
    • to cause personal injury to, or damage to property of; any person (including the pupil).
  • an article specified in The Schools (Specification and Disposal of Articles) Regulations 2012:
    • tobacco and cigarette papers;
    • fireworks; and
    • pornographic images.

Under common law, staff have the power to search a student for any item if the student agrees. The member of staff should ensure the student understands the reason for the search and how it will be conducted so that their agreement is informed.

When exercising powers to search the College must consider the age and needs of the students being searched. This includes the individual needs or learning difficulties of students with SENDs.

2. Procedures for search
2.1 Authorisation to search
Only the Principal, or a member of staff authorised by the Principal, can carry out a search. The Principal can authorise individual members of staff to search for specific items, or all items set out in this policy.

The DSL should be informed of any searching incidents where the member of staff had reasonable grounds to suspect a student was in possession of a prohibited item. The staff member should inform the DSL without delay if they believe that a search has revealed a safeguarding risk.

If the student is not willing to co-operate with the search, the member of staff should consider why this is. Reasons might include, that they:

  • are in possession of a prohibited item;
  • do not understand the instruction;
  • are unaware of what a search may involve; or
  • have had a previous distressing experience of being searched.

If a student continues to refuse to co-operate, the member of staff may sanction the student in line with this policy or be supervised whilst they seek advice from the Principal, DSL or Director of Studies.

2.2 Searching without consent
An authorised member of staff can use such force as is reasonable to search for any prohibited items identified above, but not to search for items which are identified only in the College rules.

The decision to use reasonable force should be made on a case-by-case basis. The member of staff should consider whether conducting the search will prevent the student harming themselves or others, damaging property or from causing disorder.

The Principal should ensure that a sufficient number of staff are appropriately trained in how to lawfully and safely search a student who is not co-operating, so that these trained staff can support and advise other members of staff if this situation arises.

2.3 Conducting a search
The search must only take place on the College premises or where the member of staff has lawful control or charge of the student, for example on a school trip.

The law states that the member of staff conducting the search must be of the same sex as the student being searched. There must be another member of staff present as a witness to the search.

There is a limited exception to this rule. This is that a member of staff can search a student of the opposite sex and/or without a witness present only:

  • if the member of staff carrying out the search reasonably believes there is risk that serious harm will be caused to a person if the search is not carried out as a matter of urgency; and
  • in the time available, it is not reasonably practicable for the search to be carried out by a member of staff who is same sex as the student or it is not reasonably practicable for the search to be carried out in the presence of another member of staff.

A member of staff may search a student’s outer clothing, pockets, possessions, desks or lockers. The person conducting the search must not require the student to remove any clothing other than outer clothing. Staff do not have the power to conduct a strip search. Searches of possessions, for example in bags, can only be made in the presence of the student.

2.4 Police searches
Before calling the police into the College, staff should assess and balance the risk of a potential strip search, i.e. a search involving removal of more than outer clothing, on the student’s mental and physical wellbeing and the risk of not recovering the suspected item. All other alternatives should be explored. Once the police are on College premises, the decision on whether to conduct a strip search lies solely with them, and the role of the College is to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of the student(s) involved.

2.4.1 Appropriate adult
There must always be at least two people present, other than the student, whenever a strip search involves exposure of intimate body parts except in cases of urgency where there is risk of serious harm to the student or others. One of the people present must be an appropriate adult.

An Ashbourne member of staff cannot act as an appropriate adult if the College has called the police.

An appropriate adult may be a parent, legal guardian or another person agreed by the student. This adult must not be a police officer or otherwise associated with the police. Ashbourne staff members can only be nominated as an appropriate adult if the College has not initiated contact with the police resulting in the search.

Police officers carrying out the search must be the same sex as the student being searched. The appropriate adult must also be the same sex as the student, unless requested by the student. The search must not be carried out in a location where the student could be seen by anyone else.

2.5 Informing parents
Parents and/or legal guardians should always be informed of any search for a prohibited item and the outcome of the search as soon as is practicable. They should also be informed of any items confiscated and the resulting action the College has taken, including any sanctions applied.

2.6 Recording searches
Any search by a member of staff for a prohibited item and all searches conducted by police officers will be recorded in the College’s safeguarding database, including whether or not an item is found.

2.7 Confiscation
An authorised staff member carrying out a search can confiscate any item that they have reasonable grounds for suspecting:

  • poses a risk to staff or students;
  • is prohibited, or identified in this policy for which a search can be made; or
  • is evidence in relation to an offence.

2.7.1 Confiscating prohibited or illegal items Controlled drugs
Controlled drugs must be delivered to the police as soon as possible unless there is a good reason not to do so. When staff are unsure as to the legal status of a substance or is in doubt about the safe disposal of controlled drugs, they should deliver them to the police. Other substances
Other substances which are not believed to be controlled should also be delivered to the police, or disposed of, if the member of staff believes they could be harmful.

Confiscated alcohol, tobacco, cigarette papers or fireworks may be retained or disposed of as appropriate but should not be returned to the student. Pornographic images
Pornographic images may be disposed of unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect that its possession constitutes a specified offence (i.e. it is extreme or an indecent image of a child) in which case it must be delivered to the police as soon as reasonably practicable. Members of staff should never intentionally view any indecent image of a child (also sometimes known as nude or semi-nude images). Staff must never copy, print, share, store or save such images. Stolen items
Stolen items must be delivered to the police as soon as reasonably practicable. However, if there is good reason to do so, the member of staff may also return the item to the owner, or retain or dispose of it if returning them to their owner is not practicable. Staff should take into account all relevant circumstances and use their professional judgement to determine whether they can safely dispose of the seized article. In taking into account the relevant circumstances, the member of staff should consider the following:

  • the value of the item – it would not be reasonable or desirable to involve the police in dealing with low value items such as pencil cases, though school staff may judge it appropriate to contact the police if the items are valuable;
  • whether the item is banned by the school;
  • whether retaining or returning the item to the owner may place any person at risk of harm; and
  • whether the item can be disposed of safely. Offensive weapons
Any weapons or items which are evidence of a suspected offence must be passed to the police as soon as possible.

Items that have been (or are likely to be) used to commit an offence or to cause personal injury or damage to property should be delivered to the police as soon as reasonably practicable, returned to the owner, retained or disposed of. The staff member should take into account all relevant circumstances and use their professional judgement to determine whether the item should be delivered to the police, retained, returned to the owner or disposed of. They should consider:

  • whether it is safe to dispose of the item; and
  • whether and when it is safe to return the item. Electronic devices

Electronic devices, including mobile phones, can contain files or data which relate to an offence, or which may cause harm to another person. This includes, but is not limited to, indecent images of children, pornography, abusive messages, images or videos, or evidence relating to suspected criminal behaviour.

As with all prohibited items, staff should first consider the appropriate safeguarding response if they find images, data or files on an electronic device that they reasonably suspect are likely to put a person at risk.

When an incident might involve an indecent image of a child and/or video, the member of staff should confiscate the device, avoid looking at the device and refer the incident to the DSL or deputy DSL.

If a member of staff finds any image, data or file that they suspect might constitute a specified offence, then they must be delivered to the police as soon as is reasonably practicable. They should always seek advice from the DSL or deputy.

2.8 Use of reasonable force
The decision to use reasonable force should be made on a case-by-case basis. Any use of force must be reasonable, proportionate and lawful and should only be applied when immediately necessary to prevent a student from doing or continuing to do any of the following:

  • committing a criminal offence;
  • harming themselves or others;
  • causing damage to property, including their own.

(Back to menu)

Menu ☰