Information for England
When can a pupil be excluded from school?
Schools can discipline pupils if they break the rules. The school behaviour policy should set out how they will do this. For ongoing challenging behaviour, or more serious 'one-off' offences, pupils may get a fixed period (temporary) exclusion, or a permanent exclusion.
Who makes the decision to exclude a child?
Only the head teacher, or acting head, can exclude a pupil.
My child was excluded today, what happens next?
The school will usually ring to tell you your child is being excluded and ask you to take them home. The head must also write to you straight away (law says 'without delay'). The letter or email must say:
- why your child is excluded
- how long the exclusion is for, or that it is permanent
- when they will be allowed back in school (for a fixed period exclusion)
- how their education will continue while they are not in school
- how you can challenge the exclusion.
What can I do if I disagree with my child's exclusion?
You can write to the school governing body to give your views. You can also ask to meet with them. For longer fixed term exclusions, the governors will automatically meet. Their role is to check that the head followed the exclusion procedures properly and made the right decision.
Can the decision be changed?
For an exclusion longer than five and a half days the governors have the power to allow your child back into school. If the governors do not reverse a permanent exclusion, you can ask for an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to look at the decision. The Independent Review Panel can ask the governors to reconsider the exclusion. If your child is disabled, you can also make a disability discrimination claim to the First Tier Tribunal for Special Educational Needs and Disability.
Common queries on exclusion
The school keep asking me to take my child home. They say it isn't an exclusion.
Whenever a child is sent home because of their behaviour, even
for a short time, this must be recorded as an exclusion. The school
shouldn't ask you to take your son or daughter home just to 'cool
off' after an incident, or because there is no adult support
available. This is an unofficial exclusion, which is illegal, even
if you agree to it.
The school want my child to come to school part-time only.
Sometimes a part-time timetable can be helpful, for example, to ease a pupil back into school after a long absence. This should only be done with your agreement. The school should discuss with you when the arrangement will be reconsidered and when your child can return to school full-time. A part-time timetable should be to help your child. It should not be put in place because the school does not have enough support. Unless they are ill, your child should be in school for the full school day, like other pupils of their age.
The school keeps excluding my son/daughter who has special educational needs (SEN). Is this allowed?
The head can exclude your son/daughter if the offence is considered too serious for lesser punishments such as detention. However if your child's behaviour is related to SEN or disability, the school should first consider whether there are better ways of managing behaviour or giving extra help. If your child needs more help than the school can give, they may need an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.
My son/daughter has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. Can they be permanently excluded?
Yes, if the head decides your child has seriously broken the rules and that they would be a danger to others if they stayed in school. However, exclusion should always be a last resort and the school should take into account a pupil's SEN or disability if this was a factor in the exclusion. If there are concerns about your child's behaviour, an early review of their EHC plan should be arranged.
Finally - if you are worried about exclusion
If there are problems in school, exclusion can give you the chance to discuss your worries with school staff and other professionals and may be the first step to getting the support your child needs. If you need advice or information about your situation, please contact our education advice specialists on 0808 808 3555 or post a query on Facebook.
Information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Although this information is relevant to England only, we do support the whole of the UK. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland get into contact with your local offices to find out how we can help you, visit the In your area section.
- Government guidance: Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England.
- Falling through the net: our report into illegal exclusions and the experiences of families with disabled children in England and Wales.