My child is close to getting excluded from school 

A school can decide to exclude a child, either on a fixed-term or a permanent basis, if they break the school rules. If you have been told that your child could be excluded from school, it’s likely you have questions about the exclusion process, and what you can do before it gets to that stage. 

What is school exclusion?

The headteacher can make the decision to exclude your child if they break the school’s behaviour policy.  

There are two types of exclusion: 

  • Fixed term exclusion (suspended) – where a child is excluded for a set period. Children can only be suspended for a maximum of 45 days in a school year.   
  • Permanent exclusion (expelled) – where a child can no longer attend that school, your local council must arrange full-time education from the sixth school day. 

What kind of behaviour can get my child excluded from school?

A child can only be excluded from school for breaking the school behaviour policy. The school’s policies should be found on the school website – if they’re not, ask the school for a copy. 

The policy should outline what the school considers: 

  • Misbehaviour – things like disruption in lessons, not completing work, incorrect uniform and mobile phone use. 
  • Serious misbehaviour – things like bullying, harassment, assault or possession of prohibited items like weapons or drugs. 

For the most serious breaches, a child can be excluded without warning – the school might also involve other agencies like the police or social services.  

Headteachers should consider any contributing factors that might have led to the behaviour. This includes additional needs, mental health and any changes at home. 

In a lot of cases, exclusion will be the last resort following a pattern of behaviour and other measures will be taken to address the behaviour before your child is excluded. 

What you can expect before your child reaches exclusion

The school should set out the sanctions they will use for misbehaviour in their behaviour policy. These might include: 

  • Verbal and written warnings. 
  • Sending the child out of class or to a senior member of staff. 
  • Detention after school or during break time. 
  • Letters or phone calls home to parents. 
  • A Managed Move to a new school. 

The next step could be drawing up a Pastoral Support Plan (PSP) or a Student at Risk of Permanent Exclusion Plan (SARPE). You will be invited to a meeting, along with your child and any professionals working with your child. You will discuss your child’s behaviour and any interventions that have already been tried. You will then set targets together to improve your child’s behaviour. The school should meet regularly with you and your child to check their progress and let you know that they are not meeting the plan before deciding to exclude them. 

Can my child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) be excluded from school?

Under the Equality Act (2010) it is against the law for a school to discriminate against a pupil due to any of the protected characteristics. A school can’t exclude a child with SEND due to their additional needs or because they can’t meet their needs.  

However, all children are expected to follow the behaviour policy and a child with SEND can still be excluded for misbehaving.  

If you think your child’s behaviour is triggered by their SEND, the school must try and support your child and offer strategies to de-escalate the behaviour before looking to exclude. 

If your child has a SEND or ALN diagnosis or has an EHCP or IEP, the school should be working positively with you to ensure that everything is being done to support them to stay in school. If the school are concerned about the behaviour of a child with SEND, they should work with other agencies, like the local authority to decide what support they can put in place for the child or if they would be better suited to another placement (like a special school). 

What happens when a child is excluded from school?

There is a process that a school must follow when they are excluding a child. They must: 

  • Inform you immediately by phone and follow up in writing. 
  • Set and mark work for the first five days of the exclusion. 
  • Notify the local authority who will need to find alternative full-time education for your child in another setting from the sixth day (this could be another school in the cluster or a pupil referral unit). 
  • The school governors will meet within 15 days of the exclusion to decide if the headteacher’s decision is lawful. The governors will either agree with the exclusion or overturn it. 
  • Inform you in writing of the governors decision. 

You are entitled to request an Independent Review Panel (IRP) within 15 school days of the date on the letter. The IRP hearing must take place within 15 school days of your request. You have a right to ask for a SEND expert to come to the hearing. 

A child’s name cannot be removed from the school roll until there has been an Independent Review if you as parents decide to appeal a permanent exclusion. 

How do I challenge the decision to exclude my child?

You have the right to challenge a decision to exclude your child. You should make your complaint in this order: 

  1. Complain to the school. 
  2. Complain to the local authority.
  3. Complain to the Department for Education (DfE).

GOV.UK has information on how to challenge an exclusion. 

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