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  • Writer's pictureWendy Kravetz

Independent Review Panels 2024 (IRP)

Unveiling the Role and Function of Independent Review Panels in School Exclusions

In the realm of education, the process of school exclusions can be a complex and emotionally charged journey for both parents, schools and students. When a school's governors uphold a pupil's exclusion, it's crucial to recognise the rights parents have to challenge this decision. This is where the Independent Review Panel (IRP) steps in, serving as a vital mechanism to ensure fairness, impartiality, and independence in the decision-making process. In this blog post, we will delve into the role and function of an IRP, shedding light on the key aspects that make it a cornerstone in the pursuit of justice in school exclusion cases.

Understanding the Legal Framework:

The authority for the existence of Independent Review Panels lies in sections 7, 16, and 25 of the School Discipline (Pupil Exclusion and Reviews) (England) Regulation 2012. This regulatory framework establishes the need for an independent body to review exclusion decisions, acknowledging the potential for a close relationship between a Head Teacher and School Governors that might compromise impartiality.

Composition of the IRP:

An IRP typically consists of 3 or 5 members appointed by the local authority. These members include a mix of lay individuals, Head Teachers, Governors of Maintained Schools, members of Pupil Referral Units, or Directors of the Proprietor of an Academy. Crucially, none of the members can have direct involvement with the school under review. To guide the process, the Local Authority appoints a clerk to the panel, responsible for advising parties on the relevant law and review procedures.

Key Responsibilities of the IRP:

The primary role of the IRP is to review the governing body's decision not to reinstate a permanently excluded pupil. This involves a comprehensive examination of the interests and circumstances surrounding the excluded pupil, taking into account the specific reasons for the exclusion. Moreover, the IRP considers the broader impact on other pupils and staff at the school.

Distinction from Governor's Disciplinary Hearings (GDH):

While IRPs share the objective of assessing exclusion decisions with Governor's Disciplinary Hearings (GDH), they differ in certain aspects. IRPs are generally shorter in length compared to GDHs, focusing on the specifics of the situation at hand. The emphasis lies on a thorough and impartial evaluation of the decision-making process rather than a prolonged procedural hearing.


Independent Review Panels play a pivotal role in the education landscape, providing a crucial avenue for parents to challenge exclusion decisions. By maintaining independence, impartiality, and a diverse composition, IRPs ensure a fair and just review process. As we navigate the complexities of school exclusions, the existence and effectiveness of IRPs underscore the commitment to fostering an educational environment that prioritises fairness and the well-being of all students.

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