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Personally, I find it hard to imagine what non-violent contravention of the rules could result in a permanent exclusion
Persistent disruptive behaviour, drug related incidents and theft would all be examples of things that could lead to permanent exclusion (not that I am saying OPs son has done any of these things of course - just that it is possible to be excluded for non violent behaviour)
You are allowed to appeal against permanent exclusion either on the grounds that DS did not do what he is accused of or that the school should not have excluded him as a result.
You should receive a letter if the decision is taken detailing how you appeal. It depends on the reason for exclusion and also what you want to happen. If you want him back at the school but the decision is taken to permanently exclude him then appeal to the governors and then a panel is the normal route.
What is the next step with school? In our school the first thing would be that parents would be invited in to discuss the incident.
Many schools nowadays have some staffing in during the holidays, so it might be worth telephoning this week to see if you can speak to anyone about what happened and what could happen next.
Personally, I find it hard to imagine what non-violent contravention of the rules could result in a permanent exclusion. Feel free to PM me, if you want to discuss off board.
Has he been in trouble before? If he's got into a bad rut, there are ways of getting out of it - with your support and that of the school; alternatively it may be best to consider a move of schools at this stage for a fresh start. (Maybe repeating yr10?)
Having put one child through 'the system' who achieved A*s, As at A level and a first class degree; experience with second child - equally able- has been fraught. Now in Yr 10, he is facing permanent exclusion for a serious contravention (non-violent) of the rules. What do we do? As parents, we feel very isolated/out of the loop, especially as incident happened on Friday & we're in half term.