‘Cooling off’ periods okay, says Portsmouth school head

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THE chairman of Portsmouth’s secondary schools has defended letting children off school to ‘cool off’ – without marking it down as a formal exclusion.

Mike Smith says there are circumstances where children can go home under parental supervision without having to pay the price of having an exclusion on their record.

His comments follow public outrage over a recent national report which said schools are illegally excluding pupils by not going through the proper process.

One extreme example involved a headteacher who planned to send a group of final-year GCSE pupils home from Christmas until May.

Mr Smith, however, defended half days off as a result of disruptive behaviour, providing exclusions were used in more serious circumstances.

He said: ‘Technically that is illegal and you can’t condone doing it on a regular basis, but there are circumstances where that might be the right course of action.

‘There aren’t many heads who hand on heart can say there haven’t been occasions when they’ve asked a parent to take away their child to “cool off”, particularly half-way through a school day.’

Department for Education guidance states ‘formal exclusion’ is the only legal way of removing a child from school, for part of a day or longer.