School exclusion is when a child is removed from school, either on a temporary or permanent basis. The decision to exclude a pupil must be lawful, reasonable and fair.
There are 2 kinds of exclusion – fixed period (suspended) and permanent (expelled). A fixed period exclusion is where your child is temporarily removed from school.
Exclusion is the formal sending home of a pupil from school for disciplinary reasons. There are two types of exclusion – fixed term (temporary excluded) or permanent (expelled). A pupil is not allowed in school while they are excluded.
All state-funded mainstream and special schools, including academies and free schools, must follow government statutory guidance on exclusions. The information on this page is about exclusions from state-funded schools and pupil referral units. Independent schools do not have to follow this guidance, and they will have their own exclusion procedures.
Schools must have a behaviour policy setting out the school rules and the consequences if pupils break the rules, including the circumstances where exclusion might be used. In some situations, a pupil can be excluded for behaviour outside school. Exclusion may be for a series of incidents, often described as “persistent disruptive behaviour”, or for more serious “one off” incidents.
Please click here to view and download the School Exclusions fact sheet for more information.
A school can exclude for a set number of days, up to a maximum of 45 days in a school year. A lunchtime exclusion counts as half a day.
When the exclusion has ended, your child must be allowed back to school. The head teacher cannot extend an exclusion, but they may issue a new fixed-term or permanent exclusion to begin straight after the first. This should only be done in exceptional circumstances, for example if new information has come to light.
The school should invite you and your child to a reintegration meeting on the day your child returns to school. However, your child must still be allowed in school even if you cannot attend a reintegration meeting.
Your child’s education during fixed-term exclusion
During the first five days of an exclusion, the school should take reasonable steps to set and mark work for your child. For longer exclusions, the school must arrange suitable full-time alternative education to begin from the sixth day of the exclusion. This may be in a pupil referral unit (PRU).
Challenging a fixed-term exclusion
For all exclusions, you can put your views in writing to the school governors. This is called “making representations”. The governors have the power to decide whether the head teacher made the right decision. In some cases they can overturn the exclusion and reinstate your child.
A permanent exclusion should be issued only:
- In response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school behaviour policy
- Where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
Your child’s education during permanent exclusion
During the first five days of an exclusion, the school should take reasonable steps to set and mark work for your child. From the sixth day, the local authority must arrange suitable alternative education for your child. This may be in a pupil referral unit (PRU).
In the longer term, the local authority should find a place in another school for your child.
You can also apply to other schools. However, a school can refuse to accept a child if they have been permanently excluded twice already within the last two years, and in some circumstances, they can refuse pupils with challenging behaviour.
If your child has an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, an exclusion, or the threat of one, an emergency review of the plan should be triggered. The local authority must make sure that any alternative provision is able to meet your child’s special educational needs (SEN) as set out in the EHC plan.
Challenging a permanent exclusion
The governors must meet within 15 school days to review the exclusion. You have the right to attend the meeting and to put your views to the governors. The governors must consider whether the head teacher’s decision was lawful, reasonable, and fair. They have the power to overturn the exclusion and allow your child back to school. They can also overturn the exclusion and reinstate your child in principle, even if you do not want your child to return to the school.
If the governors agree with the head teacher and uphold the decision, they must write to you to let you know. You have 15 school days from the date of the letter to ask for an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to consider the exclusion. The IRP hearing must take place within 15 school days of your request.
You can ask for a SEN expert to attend this hearing. The SEN expert’s role is to inform the panel of how SEN may be relevant to the exclusion. The IRP panel cannot overturn the decision to exclude, but they can recommend or direct the governors to reconsider the decision.
There are no other types of exclusion. If a child or a young person is sent off to ‘cool off’, or you are informed that you must keep your child at home because the nursery/school are unable to cope and are unable to meet the child’s special needs or cope with a disability, this is unlawful. These type of ‘off the book’ exclusions are known as informal or illegal exclusions. Schools are not allowed to do this and it is unlawful.
SENDIASS can offer information and support on all aspects of exclusions to parents/carers of children with SEN and young people with SEN.
We will work with you and schools to try to prevent exclusions.
If your child has special educational needs or disability and you are worried about your child being excluded or is at risk of exclusion from school, contact us.
We can support you by:
- Listening to your concerns
- Explain what might happen and the procedures involved
- Help you prepare for school meetings relating to exclusion
- Support you at school meetings
For more information on exclusions, you can also visit the following websites: