School exclusion: what you need to know

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If your child is facing exclusion from school, have a read of this advice from the School Exclusion Project.

What is an exclusion?

An exclusion is when a child is removed from school by the head teacher either for a fixed term (suspended) or permanently (expelled).

What is the difference between a fixed-term and permanent exclusion?

A fixed-term exclusion is when a child is excluded for a specific period. For the first five days the school must set and mark work for the child. From the sixth day the school must arrange alternative full-time education. A child can only be removed for up to 45 school days in a given academic year. If a child is excluded after lunchtime this counts as a half day’s exclusion.

Permanent exclusion is when a child is expelled from school. The Local Authority must arrange alternative full-time education from the sixth day of the exclusion.

Can a fixed-term exclusion become a permanent exclusion?

Yes, a child can initially be excluded for a fixed term, and before the end of the designated term be permanently excluded. 

Who can exclude a child from school?

The decision to exclude a child can only be made by the school’s head teacher.

What can a child be excluded for?

A child can be excluded for a one-off serious incident and/or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy. Exclusion should only be used as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted. 

What can't a child be excluded for?

  • Things other pupils did
  • Bad grades
  • Wearing the wrong uniform (on occasion, not frequently)
  • Being late (on occasion, not frequently)
  • Parents' actions
  • Protection when being bullied

When is an exclusion made?

An exclusion is made from the moment the head teacher makes the decision to exclude a child from school. Before sending a child home the school must check there is a responsible adult at home to receive the child before he/she is sent away. A school cannot send a child away unless a parent/guardian has been informed. A school cannot make you collect your child straight away.

What happens once a child has been excluded?

The school should send a letter confirming:

  • That your child has been excluded from school
  • The length of the exclusion ie fixed-term or permanent
  • The reason for the exclusion
  • How to challenge the exclusion

"I may be prosecuted if my child is found in public" - what does this mean?

For the first five days of an exclusion, the excluded child should not be in a public place during normal school hours unless there is a good reason. Parents/guardians may be prosecuted if their excluded child is found in a public place during school hours.

What happens next?

First you'll need to attend a Governing Body Hearing.

If the outcome of this is affirmative, ie the governors agree with the head teacher's decision, and you wish to challenge the decision, you can request a further hearing by an Independent Review Panel.

There is also the option of a First Tier Tribunal, if you believe your child has been discriminated against owing to disability, age, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

What Mumsnetters say about school exclusion:

  • "Schools are generally reluctant to permanently exclude - but if a number of fixed-term exclusions have no effect, this can leave them with no choice." 

  • "Exclusion should have positive, constructive intended consequences, for example to allow a pupil time and space to calm down, to ensure the safety and educational well-being of other pupils, to allow support for the pupil to be put in place."

  • "Once a child has got into the situation where the school feels there's nothing more that can be done and they can't teach or help the child, then the best thing is to move on with new teachers and new friends in a new environment."

  • "Some kids aren't cut out for mainstream school, but that's not to say they don't become very happy and successful people all the same. You may find the school can put in place what it needs to for your child to manage. But if it doesn't, don't think it's the end of the world by any means."


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Last updated: over 5 years ago