BEHAVIOUR POLICY - WHOLE COLLEGE POLICY
As a Christian College our aim is to encourage personal responsibility and self-discipline, showing respect for all, regardless of their status within the community. Our students are encouraged to be sensitive to others and where possible, peacemakers. All members of the community are expected to act responsibly, show courtesy and think about other people.
We aim to promote good behaviour amongst students by fostering a caring, supportive and purposeful atmosphere within the College to ensure that this right is enjoyed by all.
Staff are expected to maintain the highest standards of professionalism at all times, which will foster and inspire good student behaviour and work ethos throughout the College. Please ensure that you are punctual for morning registration and all lessons. Please dress as professionals who are role models in the work place for the young. Please ensure that you know the College’s policies on student behaviour and insist on high standards of work and behaviour from students.
At all times, students are expected to act responsibly, courteously and considerately to everybody. They are expected to exercise self-discipline and self-respect, showing respect to all, regardless of their status. It follows that courtesy is paramount just as much in minor as in major matters. Students are expected to do their best to contribute to a positive learning environment and allow others to do the same.
A conventional range of sanctions is available if needed, including loss of privileges, detention, report card, letter home or in more serious cases, even temporary or permanent exclusion. The extent to which they are used and the type of action taken will vary according to the circumstances. A framework is necessary if everyone is to be supported and allowed to develop in a secure community. In such an environment, students can grow into balanced individuals, respecting and caring for others and recognising their responsibilities as members of the community.
At Cornerstone we lay particular emphasis on rewards and have an informal culture of praise. Students are rewarded for positive behaviour and good conduct in many different forms. Praise and positive feedback is given to individuals and to groups in private and/or public as appropriate. Individual and class rewards are given as appropriate to different year groups and there are also opportunities for greater responsibility and privileges, as the students’ progress through Sixth Form. Student success is also celebrated within the College community by posting examples of achievements on the website, by communication with parents and praise from staff.
We recognise that rewarding positive behaviour is better than imposing a sanction and most students never need sanctions. However, the College will reflect on behaviour and implement sanctions where necessary.
The College does not use or threaten to use any forms of corporal punishment.
Sanctions may include the following from minor to major:
- Talking privately with a student
- Separation from those with whom they are behaving inappropriately
- Verbal reprimand
- Rectifying and make good any damage they have caused
- Inform parents/other staff of minor offences
- Loss of privileges
- Issuing a lunchtime detention or loss of free/playtime
- Discussing the consequences of their behaviour and how to avoid such situations in the future (with the relevant Head of College/member of the Senior Leadership Team)
- Issuing a report card system (may also be used as a support mechanism)
- Parental discussion
- Principal’s Saturday morning detention
- Letter home to parents
- Parents invited into College or via Zoom (if outside the UK) to meet with relevant member of the Senior Leadership
- Internal suspension
- External suspension
- Student to see the Principal
- Permanent exclusion
Examples of unacceptable behaviour and possible sanctions
The list below does not aim to cover every example of unacceptable behaviour so should be regarded as a supplement to the guiding principle that sanctions will always be appropriate to the specific instance of unacceptable behaviour or the overall pattern of behaviour.
|Examples of possible misconduct
|A range of possible sanctions
Missed or late homework
Poor attitude to class work or homework
Poor behaviour or attitude at any time
Talking in class
Lateness to lessons or activities
Talking privately with a student
Separation from those with whom they are
Rectifying and make good any damage they have caused
Inform parents/other staff of minor offences
Persistent repetition of level A behaviour
Inappropriate physical behaviour
Being off the premises without permission
Lack of respect for other students and staff
Persistent low level disruption in class
Swearing at another student
Loss of privileges
Issuing a lunchtime detention or loss of
Discussing the consequences of their behaviour
and how to avoid such situations in the future
Issuing a report card system
Persistent repetition of level B behaviour
Refusing to comply with the instructions of a member of staff
Absenting a lesson
Failure to attend a lunchtime detention
Principal’s Saturday morning detention
Letter home to parents
Parents invited into College to meet with relevant
member of the Senior Leadership Team
Persistent repetition of levels above
Swearing at a member of staff
Serious actual or threatened violence
Smoking or drinking on College premises
Carrying an offensive weapon
Continual bullying or racial harassment
Any behaviour that is likely to bring the College
Student to see the Principal
Supplying any illegal drug
Drug or substance related abuse
Physical assault to staff
*For any sanctions involving the misuse of IT, please see The CCC E-Safety Policy.
** Note: if there are any prior concerns about a student’s behaviour in College, the College reserves the right to decline to take the student on a College trip.
Internal Suspension/External Suspension/Permanent Exclusion
The Principal will authorise suspensions and/or exclusions and will be involved in the interviews and discussions. In the case of a suspension, the Chair of Governors will be informed and will be consulted before any student is permanently excluded.
The likely duration will be between 1 and 3 days. The student will be in a room working on their own under supervision. Work will be set for them from their regular lessons and the Head of College will co-ordinate. They will have a different lunch and break to their peers.
A sanction must give a message to the student concerned and the rest of the College community. A suspension is used when that message must be heard strongly and clearly. Sometimes the misbehaviour is individual and so no public announcement is made. Parents will be contacted as the misbehaviour is investigated and the student will be required to stay at home (or with a guardian) for between 1 and 3 days.
Exclusion and Removal from the College
- A decision to exclude permanently will be taken as a last resort when a wide range of other strategies have been previously employed or if an exceptionally individual offense has been committed.
- The decision to permanently exclude is taken by the Principal after discussion with senior staff and the Chair of Governors. The parents are informed of the decision and asked to collect the student as soon as possible. Parents are usually asked whether they wish to withdraw their child rather than have them expelled. In cases relating to international students’ a local guardian or agent will be informed where parents are not available.
- Parents will be concerned to have the College reach a decision which is in the best interest of their child. The College needs also to take account of the interests of the whole College community.
Rationale for Exclusion:
- Exclusion will usually be considered only where such action is deemed to be in the best interests of one or more of:
- the student concerned
- other students in the College
- staff in the College
or where the student’s action has brought or is likely to bring the College’s reputation into disrepute.
- Exclusion will also be considered where the student concerned is regarded on the balance of probabilities as having committed a criminal offence, whether or not connected with the College and whether or not criminal proceedings have been instituted.
- A student is also liable to be excluded if fees remain unpaid unless an arrangement has been agreed with the Bursar for paying off those arrears.
- While the precise procedure to be followed in a given situation depends on the circumstances of the case, the procedure outline below would apply wherever possible:
- A fair and thorough investigation will be led by the Principal
- Students must be informed of the allegation and the evidence relied upon
- Students must be given a fair opportunity to exculpate themselves
- Parents will be informed as soon as practically possible
- A hearing will be conducted by the Principal and a decision reached
- An appeal should be offered and this will be conducted by the Chair of Governors.
- Before a decision is made to exclude a student from CCC permanently, a full investigation will be undertaken by the Deputy Principal and the appropriate Head of College. The Principal will not take part in the investigation as this may compromise her impartiality at the actual hearing.
- If a student is excluded by the Principal, the parent may appeal against the decision. Such an appeal should be made in writing to the Chair of Governors within 14 days of the decision to exclude and should set out the reasons for disputing the Principal’s decision.
- A student whose exclusion is subject to such an appeal will be suspended from attending the College pending the outcome of the appeal.
- The Chair will appoint an ‘Appeal Panel’ of three persons, at least one of who will not be a member of the College Committee. Prior to the meeting of the Appeal Pane, the Chair will arrange for the Principal to produce a statement of the reasons for exclusion and will give the appellant(s) the opportunity to comment upon that statement.
- Unless otherwise agreed by the appellant(s), at least 7 days’ notice will be given of the time and place of the meeting of the Appeal Panel.
- Whether or not the decision of the Appeal Panel is announced at the time of the meeting, the panel will produce a written decision giving their reasons for upholding or varying the decision to expel the student.
For details of the procedures for holding a hearing, please see Appendix 1.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the College’s:
- Anti-Bullying Policy
- Complaints Procedure
- Drugs, Smoking and Alcohol Policy
- E-Safety Policy
- Physical Restraint Policy
Appendix 1 – Procedures for Holding a Hearing
Once the information gathering stage has been completed, the next step is obviously to hold the hearing itself. The hearing will generally be heard by the Principal and attended by the student, parents, a note taker and any other person required (eg witnesses or the member of staff who carried out the investigation).
BEFORE THE HEARING
Notify the student and parents of the hearing.
Make sure the letter sets out precisely what allegations have been made. It should also contain all relevant practical details (eg the time, date, place and purpose of the hearing and who will be attending).
Circulate the evidence to be relied upon by the College.
Provide copies of all evidence to be relied on by the College (including witness statements) and ask for any written submissions from the student/parents (including witness statements) to be provided for circulation by a specified (reasonable) date. Make sure all parties have sufficient time to prepare for the hearing.
Circulate any further evidence produced by the students/parents. Ideally, all parties should have copies of all evidence to be relied on, five working days before the actual hearing. If this is not possible then consider whether a brief postponement is preferable.
AT THE HEARING
As a general rule, the students should attend the hearing. Natural justice requires that a student is able to hear the case against her/him and defend herself/himself. Unless there are strong reasons to the contrary, therefore, the student should be present and allowed to speak on her/his own behalf if she/he wishes to do so and the parents agree.
Particularly where the other witnesses are also students, it is generally preferable to rely on written statements at the hearing. Sometimes it may be felt that a witness should be present, for example to allow necessary questioning on the content of their statement. If so, the student may be asked to appear but should not be compelled to do so and the parents of that student must first consent.
Parents should not bring legal representatives to the hearing unless there are compelling reasons for allowing it (eg illness, English not parents’ first language). You may, however, wish to consider allowing parents to bring a non- legally qualified supporter, making it clear in advance that this person is not able to make representations. If this offer is made then parents should also be asked to name any such supporter in advance of the hearing.
Explain the purpose of the hearing. The Principal should set out how the hearing will be conducted and the College presents its case. Generally this will be done by the person who conducted the investigation. If witness statements have been obtained then these should be read out loud.
Parents are entitled to know the precise nature of the alleged facts. From a practical perspective, allowing sufficient questioning will reinforce the impression of fairness. The student/parents present their case. The parents will normally undertake this role, but the student should be allowed to comment if appropriate. The Principal asks questions of the student/parents. The objective is for the Principal to establish all the relevant facts to allow a fair decision to be reached
Minute the hearing
A designated note-taker should note the names and roles of all people present, all written documents considered, all oral evidence given and the decision reached, including the reasons stated.
In all but the most straightforward of cases, however, it is good practice to adjourn the hearing before announcing the decision. Failure to do so creates the impression that the outcome was predetermined. Before adjourning, explain what will happen next and when.
FOLLOWING THE HEARING
Inform all parties of the decision.
This can be done face to face in the first instance but should always be confirmed in writing, preferably within one college day of the hearing. The letter should state the decision in relation to the charge (or each of them), the sanction, when it takes effect, the reasons, to whom the parents may appeal and the deadline.
Once the hearing has been held, the decision-taker (almost certainly the Principal) will have a range of sanctions open to her. The fairness of the sanction selected is another area open to legal challenge.
Before concluding that exclusion is justified, the Principal and Governor should ask the following questions:
Has the burden of proof been discharged?
No matter what offence the student is accused of, the Principal should decide the matter on the balance of probabilities. (New guidance entitled Improving Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on exclusion from colleges and student referral units states that the more serious the allegations the more convincing the evidence substantiating the allegation needs to be. The regulations and guidance do not apply directly to independent colleges who are still free to set their own behaviour policies. Like the Behaviour and Attendance Guidance, however, the documents do provide a useful benchmark.
Is exclusion fair in all circumstances?
The decision to exclude is a very serious one with significant potential percussions. In general, the decision should only be taken in response to a serious breach of the College’s Behaviour Policy, once other options have been exhausted and if allowing the student to remain in College would seriously harm the education or welfare of the student or others in the College.
Once guilt has been established, the following questions will be considered before a decision to exclude is taken:
- Does the offence fall within the College’s list of offences which may lead to exclusion? Although the list states that it is non-exhaustive, exclusion will be harder to challenge if the offence is contained in the published policy.
- Have students been excluded for similar offences in the past? (As a general rule, it is dangerous to exclude a student where previous offenders have been let off with, for example, a suspension).
- Has this student committed a serious disciplinary offence in the past?
Excluding for a first breach of discipline is far more susceptible to challenge than where a student has a proven track record of misbehaviour. The sorts of first offence that may justify exclusion typically involve:
- Sexual assault
- Drugs and/or
- Offensive weapons
Even then, a decision to exclude should have regard to all the relevant circumstances.
- Have the relevant domestic circumstances been taken into account and whether the student was provoked, perhaps as a result of bullying or harassment?
- Are any other students involved in the investigation being dealt with in the same way? (Again, it is dangerous to scapegoat one student in circumstances where others are to be treated more leniently).
Check for consistency
- Are the interests of the student outweighed by those of the College community as a whole? How much harm will it do to the College and those in it if this student is allowed to remain?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, a less draconian sanction may be considered as more appropriate.
Suspension (perhaps accompanied by a final warning) is the logical and less severe alternative. The Principal may consider agreeing to a managed move of the student to another college, provided such an alternative can be readily identified.
Another option may be to allow the parents an opportunity to withdraw the student rather than having an exclusion imposed.
Both these options should be used with care and are generally to be avoided where there is no confidence in the quality of the relationship between the College and parents going forward. Furthermore, these two sanctions both present an inconsistency in the College’s position – if exclusion is not justified on the evidence then it is logically hard to justify a “lesser” sanction which will involve the removal of the student from the College.
The Principal will take advice before offering either of these options.
Fundamental to the fairness of any exclusion process is the right to appeal. A failure to allow this will invariably make the exclusion unfair and hence susceptible to legal challenge.
Who hears it?
An appeal will be heard by at least two of the Governors and one person who are independent of the running of the College. The appeal must not be heard by the original decision taker and to this end, no Governor who has been directly involved in the matter at hand should hear the appeal. Any Governor with a connection to the student should also be excluded from the panel.
The appeal hearing will be held at the College, or if requested, a more neutral location that is convenient for all the parties.
The risk of lost collegeing is a key concern that makes time of the essence. The objective must therefore be to hold any appeal within a reasonable time frame – a benchmark would be to aim to conduct the appeal within five working days.
The purpose of the appeal hearing is generally to decide two issues; first, whether the student actually committed the disciplinary offence in question and second, whether permanent exclusion is a reasonable response. If the appeal panel concludes that the answer to the first question is no, the second question ceases to be relevant and the student should be re-admitted.
The Appeal Panel should not receive or consider fresh evidence that related to issues not considered when the decision to exclude was taken. Equally, it should not overturn a decision to exclude purely on the basis of there having been a technical defect in the procedure followed, unless that defect was so substantial that justice was not done. It should be made clear from the outset that the appeal decision is final.
The decision of the panel shall be that of the majority. The Chair of the Panel shall have a casting vote if the decision is split equally.
The Review Panel shall not be entitled to set aside the decision of the Principal to remove or permanently exclude a student nor to substitute some other penalty or sanction.
Where the Review Panel upholds the decision of the Principal it shall confirm the decision to remove or permanently exclude.
Where the Review Panel considers that:
- the Principal did not have before him/her all the relevant evidence
- the Principal may not have given sufficient weight to any particular evidence or argument
- not all relevant arguments or submissions were put before the Principal
- the procedures followed were unfair
The Review Panel may require the Principal to reconsider his/her decision in the light of the findings of the panel.
Following the Hearing
The Panel Chair shall, within two days of the hearing or as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter, notify the parent in writing that the panel:
- has confirmed the Principal’s decision, or
- has requested the Principal to reconsider her decision
The Panel Chairperson shall, within two days of the hearing or as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter, notify the Principal in writing that the panel:
- has confirmed her decision, or
- requires the Principal to reconsider his/her decision in which case the Panel Chairperson shall set out in writing what evidence or further evidence, or what arguments or submissions the Principal should additionally take into account.
The panel may additionally make recommendations to the Principal relating to his/her decision but these shall not be binding on the Principal.
Where the Review is Upheld
Where the Principal is required by the Review Panel to reconsider his/her decision, he/she shall reconsider his/her decision and shall, within three days of being notified in writing of the panel’s decision or as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter, notify the parent and the panel Chairperson in writing of his/her reconsidered decision. For the avoidance of doubt during this period, the student shall continue to remain suspended from the College.
The reconsidered decision of the Principal will be final and will not be the subject of any further review.
Reviewed in September 2023
By Dr. Emmanuel Obikwu