Mum's anger over son's expulsion after being caught with cannabis at Sheffield school

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A mother whose 13-year-old son was expelled after being caught with cannabis in the grounds of a Sheffield school says she feels let down.

The mum, whom The Star has chosen not to name to avoid identifying her son, accepts he deserved to be kicked out of Fir Vale School.

Fir Vale School in Sheffield

Fir Vale School in Sheffield

But she is angry about the time taken to reach the decision and what she claims was a lack of support provided to ensure her son could continue his education while awaiting his fate.

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She says he was suspended for nine weeks before the school decided to make his exclusion permanent, and that no alternative placement was organised during this time and only a few days worth of schoolwork were provided.

The school, however, insists the decision was only taken as a 'last resort' and that it always sets work and arranges alternative placements for pupils who are excluded.

The pupil was suspended immediately after being discovered with drugs at the beginning of March, according to his mother, but was not informed he had been permanently excluded until May 3 - nine weeks later.

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His mother said he was only given enough work for the first five days and received nothing after that.

She also claims she did not receive a letter inviting her to the meeting where governors decided to expel her son until after it had been held.

"I'm not arguing with him being permanently excluded because his own actions got him there," she said.

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"But I feel the school hasn't followed due process in taking this decision. Nine weeks is far too long for him to wait before getting back into education and it's wrong that I didn't get the chance to attend the meeting.

"I always had a good relationship with the school before this happened and I feel let down by how I've been treated."

Sheffield Council says pupils can be suspended for a maximum of 45 days before a decision is taken to expel them, and schools must provide work from the sixth day of any suspension.

Parents have the right to appeal against their child's permanent exclusion. If the decision is upheld the pupil is sent to the council-run pupil referral unit in Manor Top to prepare them to resume their education at a new school.

Simon Hawkins, headteacher at Fir Vale School Academy Trust, said: "We are a happy and caring school with high standards. We are delighted to see attendance, punctuality and progress have all risen significantly this year. Ofsted wrote to our school recently and noted this rapid improvement. We value the support of parents, families and pupils to help us accelerate the raising of standards.

"As part of this approach, governors met recently and made the decision to permanently exclude a pupil as a last resort. They commented on the significant amount of care, nurture, support, and intervention our school has provided.

"All pupils and families are supported during the exclusion process and parents are always invited both verbally and in writing to attend the exclusion meeting. Work is set for pupils and alternative placements are arranged. We cannot, of course, guarantee pupils attend their alternative placement or complete and return the work we set for them.

"We will always do our best to support pupils and their families."