Exclusion is a serious step for a school to take and is usually only taken in response to breaches in discipline and conduct.
Children can be excluded if:
- There has been a serious breach of a school's discipline policy
- allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
In most cases other action should have been tried before excluding a pupil. However, it might be necessary for the Headteacher to take immediate action to protect pupils and staff.
What types of exclusion are there?
A fixed term exclusion would normally be used as a response to a pupil’s persistent misbehaviour in school. This could mean that a child will be told not to come into school for a certain number of days.
Fixed term exclusions should not exceed a total of 45 school days in a school year and must not be given for an unspecified period. Such practice amounts to an indefinite exclusion, which is unlawful.
A permanent exclusion is a serious step and is usually the final stage, in a series of strategies employed by the school, to address a pupil’s misbehaviour. This means that a child will not be able to return to that school again (pending the Discipline Committee hearing/independent appeal process).
A pupil may be permanently excluded for a first or ‘one off’ offence if the headteacher considers the incident of a serious enough nature. A headteacher may also inform the police if they feel that a criminal offence has taken place.
Who can make the decision to exclude?
Only the headteacher may exclude a pupil, either permanently or for a fixed period, from school. If the headteacher is absent, then it should be the most senior teacher on the school site that day, acting on behalf of the headteacher.
If you are a parent of an excluded child you can find more advice and guidance in the document links to the right of the page.
School Exclusion – advice for parents and carers
Where possible, you will be told immediately, by telephone, about the exclusion by someone from the school. You will then be sent a letter by the Headteacher that will tell you:
If the exclusion is for a fixed period, the length of the exclusion and date for return (if it is a lunchtime exclusion, the number of lunchtimes the pupil is excluded for);
If the exclusion is permanent, the date the exclusion starts, details of any relevant previous history;
Your right to make representations to the Pupil Discipline Committee, the latest date the Committee must meet and who to contact if you would like to make representations;
Your right to see your child's school record and who to contact to do so;
the contact details of someone at the LA and the telephone number for the
Advisory Centre for Education helpline.
Arrangements for your child to continue with their education, the Headteacher will also inform the LA of all exclusions.
What can you do when your child has been excluded?
Although it's natural to want to support your child, parents must take exclusion seriously and consider the events that led up to it.
As well as practical considerations around schoolwork, you and your child have a number of rights in the process.
- You have the right to challenge the exclusion.
- You also have the right to know what is happening to your child throughout the period he is excluded.
- The head should meet you and discuss the arrangements for the exclusion, and the circumstances that led up to it.
- For exclusions of 15 school days or less, the governors only review your case if you raise it with them.
- For exclusions of more than 15 days, the governors must have a meeting to discuss the exclusion, with or without your attendance.
- Governors have the power to overturn an exclusion.
- If the exclusion is for a fixed period, the school should set work to be done at home for the period the child is away. You need to know about this work - what is it and how is it going to be assessed. Your child’s school or education welfare officer should help you with this.
If the exclusion is permanent, arrangements for the continuance of your child's education need to be set in place and explained. The LA has a legal duty to ensure your child receives education. This means your child is entitled to behavioural and pupil support while arrangements are made for a new school place elsewhere. The LA may arrange for home tuition, or a place in a pupil referral unit.
How can I appeal?
Your first step is to make a case to the discipline committee of the school governing body, If they agree with the exclusion, you have a right to take your appeal to an independent appeal committee.
The decision letter sent on behalf of the governors will tell you how to do this, you need to appeal within 15 days of the governors’ decision. The appeal committee can instruct the school to re-admit your child.