Illegal exclusions

2 mins read

Why we’re campaigning

Our research, Falling through the net [PDF], found that children with a disability, special educational need or additional need are routinely illegally excluded from school. Almost a quarter (22 percent) of those are illegally excluded every week.

This is having a devastating impact on their education and mental health. Half of parents report they are unable to work due to the impact of illegal exclusions on family life.

A child can only be legally excluded from school for disciplinary reasons. A head teacher must formally tell parents that their child will be excluded by giving them details in writing. Any other exclusions are illegal, and we want them to stop.

What we want

  • Where exclusion is necessary, schools must follow statutory procedure to ensure decisions are lawful, reasonable and fair.
  • The most frequently illegally excluded pupils with a disability or additional needs are those who have conditions which affect behaviour. Schools should take early action to tackle the underlying cause, and put in support before a crisis occurs.
  • Schools and teachers should work closely with parents to understand a child’s condition or disability, their extra support needs and ensure the child gets the help they need.
  • Ofsted has an important role in identifying unlawful practice in the course of an inspection. Schools should be offered additional support to help them improve their practice A grading of ‘inadequate’ should be considered if schools continue to illegally exclude children with a disability, special educational or additional need.

What you can do

  • Tell us if your child has been illegally excluded; email Una Summerson at
  • Call our helpline on 0808 808 3555 for advice or see our web pages on exclusions
  • If you’re able to, please consider making a donation so we can continue our life-changing campaign work.