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School Exclusions and the Law

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 Sep 2018 |
 
School Exclusion Appeal Days Fixed Term

If your child has been excluded from school, you are likely to have numerous questions about where this leaves the future of your child’s education. School exclusions are divided into two types, fixed-term exclusions and permanent exclusions. While permanent exclusions mean that your child is removed from the school roll, a fixed-term exclusion is for a limited period. Only a head teacher, acting head teacher or teacher in charge of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) can exclude a child.

Fixed-Term Exclusions

These types of exclusions cannot be open-ended. The child should know exactly how long he or she has been excluded from school and when he or she will be allowed to return. The maximum amount of time for which a child can be excluded is 45 days in any single school year. It is also possible to exclude a child at lunch time, which counts for a half day in England and quarter of a day in Wales. The independent watchdog Ofsted has stated that a fixed-term exclusion of between one and three days is usually long enough to demonstrate the consequences of the child’s behaviour without affecting his or her development and education.

Fixed-term exclusions should only be used where a child has seriously breached a school’s behaviour policy and the breach is not serious enough for a permanent exclusion, and other sanctions such as detention are not appropriate. A pupil can appeal a fixed term exclusion decision through the school’s governing body.

Permanent Exclusions

Permanent exclusions should be used as a last resort, and if all other processes and means of trying to improve the child’s behaviour have failed. There should be a structured process prior to the exclusion, that should endeavour to address the child’s behaviour before any such decision permanently to exclude is made. Each school must have a policy on exclusion, and staff must be trained and procedures implemented to encourage the good behaviour of school children.

If your child is permanently excluded, you can appeal within a set time limit. Failure to lodge an appeal within the specified time may mean that your child’s exclusion is permanent. Of course, any appeal may not be successful but if your child has been excluded it is worth seeking advice on the merits of an appeal as early as possible. If the appeal to the school’s governing body fails, a child who is permanently excluded can appeal to an independent appeal panel.

If you are still unhappy with the decision of the independent appeal panel, you may be able to judicially review it. This is, however, a complicated and drawn out process, and you should seek specialist legal advice from an education lawyer before embarking on this course of action.

Decisions Permanently to Exclude

A decision to exclude a child from a school permanently should only be made in the following circumstances:

  • Where the child has seriously breached a school’s policy on behaviour, either because of one very serious offence or several offences AND
  • That allowing the child to stay at the school would seriously damage the welfare and/or education of the child, or that of other pupils at the school.

A permanent exclusion is usually issued when an incident is exceptionally serious. This may be, for example, because the child has:

  • Threatened or used serious violence against a teacher, other member of staff or pupil
  • Carried out an act of sexual abuse or assault
  • Supplied illicit drug(s)
  • Been found to be carrying a weapon

Non-Exclusion Offences

A child should never be excluded for committing minor incidents, such as failing to complete homework, for being late, breaches of school uniform rules, or for poor academic performance. A child should not be excluded as punishment for the behaviour of their parents, for example, if the parents fail to attend a scheduled meeting about their child. It is also never appropriate to exclude a child who is being bullied by sending them home for their own protection. Similarly, it is not lawful for a child to be ‘informally excluded’, by being sent home to calm down, for example.

What About SEN children or those with disabilities?

It is illegal to exclude a child on the ground of his or her disability. Schools should avoid sending SEN children home other than in exceptional situations.

School Exclusion Procedure

Once the decision has been made to exclude a child, the head teacher should decide whether the exclusion is to be fixed-term or permanent. If it is a fixed-term exclusion, the length must be fixed for a precise period of time, and reasons for the exclusion should be given in a letter within one school day. Usually the parent or guardian will be informed by telephone on the day of the exclusion. The parent has a right to make representations to the school’s governing body, and the letter should set out how to do this and who to contact in order to do this.

There is a right to see the child’s school record, and the parent or guardian should also be informed that their child should not be in a public place during the period of exclusion without reasonable justification. If this is not adhered to, the parent may be prosecuted or fined. If the local authority or the school considers that the child’s parent may have had something to do with the child’s poor behaviour, the parent may be offered a Parenting Contract.

The school should allow the child to continue his or her education during the first five days that the exclusion is in place. The parent or guardian remains responsible for ensuring that the child completes the work and that it is sent back to the school.

At the end of a fixed-term exclusion, the parent should be invited by the school to attend the school for a ‘reintegration interview.’ This is to help the child back to school and to help him or her improve their behaviour. The child will normally be allowed to attend all or part of this interview.

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*** PLEASE IGNORE PREVIOUS POST AS THERE WERE ERRORS *** My daughter (yr10) was told to leave the class after being given a c3 (I thought it was c4 removal from class, but apparently this teacher doesn't know the procedures). She was falsely accused of disrupting the class by laughing at someone sneezing (which she didn't), the teacher actually said that the noise (laughing) came from her direction (no actual proof just an assumption) and was given the c3. At that point my daughter calmly and politely said "it wasnt me", the teacher then shouted at her "are you challenging me?" then she got kicked out of class. She went to reception where she was told to goto e1 (a so called "matrix") (a different year class) and fill out a yellow form. The teacher from e1 (matrix) then asked my daughter why she had been given a c4 which she replied she hadn't the original teacher said a c3 and even ticked c3 on the whiteboard with her name on, but the teacher from e1, after about 20mins, told her she had to report to a different teacher to be booked in for a detention for 30mins after school Monday. She couldn't find this "other" teacher and my wife tore the yellow form up and stated quite categorically my daughter will not be doing detention. We are unsure if the original teacher who gave her the c3 knows the procedure and it is unclear if she will have a detention, either way if my daughter does not attend any detentions etc and gets a fixed term exclusion (after progressing down the consequences path) , upon her return would she then have to do the detention still or is the exclusion punishment enough?
Rbcjhub - 21-Sep-18 @ 12:44 AM
My daughter (yr10) was told to leave the class after being given a c3 (I thought it was c4 removal from class, but apparently this teacher doesn't know the procedures). She was falsely accused of disrupting the class by laughing at someone sneezing (which she didn't), the teacher actually said that the noise (laughing) came from her direction and was given the c3. At that point my calmly and politely said "it was me", the teacher then shouted at her "are you challenging me?" then she got kicked out of class. She went to reception where she was told to goto e1 (a different year class) and fill out a yellow form. The teacher from e1 then asked my daughter had she been given a c4 which she replied no a c3, but the this teacher told her she had to report to this other teacher to be booked in for a detention. She couldn't find this "other" teacher and my wife tore the yellow form up and stated quite categorically my daughter will not be doing detention. We are unsure if the original teacher who gave her the c3 knows the procedure and it is unclear if she will have a detention, either way if my daughter does not attend any detentions etc and gets a fixed term exclusion, upon her return would she then have to do the detention or is the exclusion punishment enough?
Rbcjhub - 21-Sep-18 @ 12:36 AM
My twin boys age 4 just started reception, they have been at the school since they was 2 half at there nursery boys was always split up one goes one day the other goes the other day, there struggling being togeather behavier wise head teacher is saying she will exclude them is this fair??
Shel - 17-Sep-18 @ 8:36 PM
Jess - Your Question:
Can an academy force my child to wear a bike helmet to cycle to and from school, if not they face isolation and confiscate bike ?

Our Response:
It's reasonable to have this as a condition of being able to take a bike to school. It's like having to wear a blazer. If your child is representing the school they should be expected to show that they are committed to making sensible safety choices too?
LawAndParents - 10-Sep-18 @ 2:32 PM
Can an academy force my child to wear a bike helmet to cycle to and from school, if not they face isolation and confiscate bike ?
Jess - 3-Sep-18 @ 8:59 PM
Lp - Your Question:
If my child has been permanently excluded does that automatically mean that they would be sent to an PRU?

Our Response:
Noif your child is of compulsory school age your Local Authority must provide them with education, which should normally be full-time in school.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-18 @ 3:33 PM
BD - Your Question:
My daughter was excluded for five days because she was in possession of drugs and they said that there would be a meeting regarding if she should be permanently excluded or not, because of the whole situation are the chances of her getting permanently excluded high?

Our Response:
We don't know unfortunately. This will depend on the school's policy and your daughter's record at the school.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-18 @ 3:28 PM
My son is in a Grammer School and is behind in his homework and has been late for school quite a few times as we live very far away.He has had a few minor incidents e.g: throwing sweets in the corridor. He is in Year 10 and will be doing his GCSE’s next year.The head called a meeting and told us that he was giving us an opportunity to find another school for him before the end of this year, or if not there was a 95% chance that he would be excluded when returning back in September.He is trying to force us to change my sons school,and said if he misses a homework or is late in the new school year he would be permantly excluded straight away.Can he do this?I’m not sure what to do.
Elle - 4-Jul-18 @ 12:02 PM
My 6 year old granddaughter had been permanently excluded due to her behaviour she had not been firmly sssessed for Autoday and now school wants her to attend a behavioural unit without her being formally diagnosed in September.Is that rhe has to attend a PR unit this does not seem fair
None - 3-Jul-18 @ 7:21 PM
If my child has been permanently excluded does that automatically mean that they would be sent to an PRU?
Lp - 2-Jul-18 @ 8:15 PM
My daughter was excluded for five daysbecause she was in possession of drugs and they said that there would be a meeting regarding if she should be permanently excluded or not, because of the whole situation are the chances of her getting permanently excluded high?
BD - 2-Jul-18 @ 8:13 PM
I was asked to pick my child up from school after dangerous behavior no mention of exclusion yet 5 hours later I receive a call to say it was an exclusion is this legal
Zoe Gillies - 29-Jun-18 @ 8:06 PM
P - Your Question:
Hi. My son was permanently excluded from school, he had 2 school moves but was also excluded from these which resulted in some home tutoring for the remaining months. However all my benefits(including child benefit) for him stopped on his 16th birthday and I have been left to support him on my own disability money. He cannot claim any benefits until he is 18. My own health has deteriorated due to the stress of trying to cope alone with no support from any department. He was diagnosed with adhd/add. Can someone please give me some advice on what I can claim. The dwp informed me that I should of at least, still received my child benefit for him and should not of been forced into supporting him on my own disability. Is this correct? Many thanks.

Our Response:
Child Benefit is only given while a child is in approved education. Talk to local colleges and see if there are any NVQ or other vocational courses which might suit your son better - he can probably start one in September. If he does, you will be able to claim Child Benefit while he is on the course (usually 2 years). In the meantime, check to see if you're eligible for Universal Credit
LawAndParents - 20-Jun-18 @ 10:28 AM
Hi. My son was permanently excluded from school, he had 2 school moves but was also excluded from these which resulted in some home tutoring for the remaining months. However all my benefits(including child benefit) for him stopped on his 16th birthday and i have been left to support him on my own disability money. He cannot claim any benefits until he is 18. My own health has deteriorated due to the stress of trying to cope alone with no support from any department. He was diagnosed with adhd/add. Can someone please give me some advice on what I can claim. The dwp informed me that I should of at least, still received my child benefit for him and should not of been forced into supporting him on my own disability. Is this correct? Many thanks.
P - 16-Jun-18 @ 12:20 PM
Danny - Your Question:
Hi my child has been excluded permanently from a private school on the basis of myself putting a post on social media regarding the way he's been treated recently. The letter from the head stated. Posting on social media to give the school a bad name your child is not welcome to come back even though they have the full fees for the full term.There is only 5 weeks left and he leave the school anyway as year 6. Is there anything I can do about this?Thanks

Our Response:
Not really. If the school's policies have been flouted the head/management can do as they choose. Fees at private schools are usually payable in advance and are not refunded if a child leaves early. If you want to take a private action against the school you should consult a solicitor.
LawAndParents - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:45 AM
Hi my child has been excluded permanently from a private school on the basis of myself putting a post on social media regarding the way he's been treated recently. The letter from the head stated. Posting on social media to give the school a bad name your child is not welcome to come back even though they have the full fees for the full term. There is only 5 weeks left and he leave the school anyway as year 6. Is there anything I can do about this? Thanks
Danny - 9-Jun-18 @ 12:23 AM
Gabbon10- Your Question:
My daughter has been put in isolation for her behaviour and we have been told she is to come in to school 1pm-5pm instead of the normal 9-3. Me and my wife are both working in the morning. Can school just decide these hours. And should this not be recorded as a half day exclusion? Thanks in advance

Our Response:
Check the school's behaviour policy. It's unsual for a child to be asked to remain at home for part of the daywithout a formal exclusion. It may be worth talking to someone from your local education authority for more information as we don't have details of the type of school/the age of your daughter etc
LawAndParents - 8-Jun-18 @ 1:44 PM
My daughter has been put in isolation for her behaviour and we have been told she is to come in to school 1pm-5pm instead of the normal 9-3. Me and my wife are both working in the morning. Can school just decide these hours. And should this not be recorded as a half day exclusion? Thanks in advance
Gabbon10 - 6-Jun-18 @ 7:10 PM
My son is being permanently excluded first five day s for the start but had no letter as yet now on School term holidays had phone call to say it’s lioking at permanenly excluding . He’s got dyslexia 15 years doesn’t get the help he should Brenna in senco all through school years . The School bottom rating on ofstead I removed him due to all these reasons never been in trouble ever. Once in better school started with very bad achne hospital treatment lead to depression and under nurse counciling health Gp and specialist advice due to depression how low he was asked me to get him back into previous school with his friends as his welfare became uncertain . Against my judgement I followed their instructions. Now he is just left not able to get in in class reading age 9.6 maths aged 7 years spelling 12 years . He has taken a picture of a coloured teacher and wrote Maltesers head on the snapchat and reported him as racist to police . Never has he been in trouble but the school are aware I never wanted him back and keep pushing for him to get more support of which is never put in place only promises . Where do I stand and is this a goodbye enough reason to permanently exclude. To him he doesn’t see it as racist he just thinks it was a joke with friends and removed picture but due to a girl snaoshotting it she showed the teacher . I’m now in a position that having him removed and forcing him to another school the depression will return as he’s still on the medication that enhancing the depression .
Bruno - 26-May-18 @ 4:46 AM
AJ - Your Question:
I wonder if you could advise please.My son in his previous primary school complained to us regularly about bullying (Other kids punching him, hitting him on the playground etc) rough behaviour and even examples of mild racist comments to him. We complained to the Head who never seemed to want to put anything in writing and always insisted on meetings he would ask us verbally to attend when we picked up our son from school. There was constant low level disruption in the class and we also complained about this. Same 'informal' response never with written records or follow up.It appeared to us (And other parents) that the rough kids who's parents were on the ParentTeachers committee never received warnings or exclusions. Pupils who were for example, in care for which the school received additional pupil premium funding - never received exclusions.It became evident that the Head started to not want to engage our concerns and certainly not to allow them to escalate to more formal levels or written records.Our son is mixed race and has been brought up in a multicultural environment. We were called in to the school to be told that our son had used a racist term and that he would receive a temporary exclusion. He denied this and there was no evidence or witnesses other than the boy (Pupil premium and former bully who we had complained about ) So we told them we didn't agree and that we believed our son would not have done this. He was excluded anyway and no details of appeal were given.We eventually moved him to another primary school that when we looked round, seemed good. However, the record from the previous school we suspect has prejudiced their attitude towards him and he seems to be labelled as a problem child for very minor things constantly.A year later we also applied to the school where our daughter is so they could be at the same school - only to be told that his record shows he has been excluded and is disruptive.We are worried that this record (that we dispute) will prejudice all future opportunities and feel helpless to challenge the accuracy of this or how to stop it causing harm when he is applying for secondary school. What is the legal situation and how can we have this record removed or amended ? Surely this isn't legal?

Our Response:
If you do not feel the first primary school acted properly in the way it excluded your son (you are supposed to be told in a letter how you can challenge a decision etc) then you might consider legal action. We don't know whether you can change a child's school record but talking to your LEA (education welfare team) will help you establish what you can do. A complaint to the Department for Education might be your last resort after talking to the other bodies.
LawAndParents - 15-May-18 @ 11:12 AM
My son as ADHD and as now been excluded from school twice now for violence behaviour due to been bullied for the last two years looks like he is going to be permanently excluded this coming week this has been reported to the school on numerous occasions but the bullies keep doing it and the school only react when my son as an out burst the school as known about his adhd and have done no assessments please advise don’t know where to turn as the school is blaming my son for all of this I know he is no angel
Georgie - 12-May-18 @ 7:36 PM
Binns - Your Question:
My son, who is diagnosed with ADHD, has been given a choice of permanent exclusion or a managed move. Should the school have a policy or protocol in place to deal with this? Also, is a managed move merely an unofficial way of permanently excluding a child, without it ending up as part of the school's statistics?Should the LEA be involved in the process, as I am concerned that my son could end up without a school place, if a suitable alternative is not found. Furthermore, we live in a London borough and my son is in a Surrey school, so how does that affect the process?

Our Response:
You will be able to find the policy from your LEA and yes they would normally be involved in the process if a school move is recommended. The school's policy will be available if you ask the school for it. If the choice is permanent exclusion or a managed move it may have been suggested for the benefit of your child rather than for the school's statistics
LawAndParents - 11-May-18 @ 1:49 PM
I wonder if you could advise please. My son in his previous primary school complained to us regularly about bullying (Other kids punching him, hitting him on the playground etc) rough behaviour and even examples of mild racist comments to him. We complained to the Head who never seemed to want to put anything in writing and always insisted on meetings he would ask us verbally to attend when we picked up our son from school. There was constant low level disruption in the class and we also complained about this. Same 'informal' response never with written records or follow up. It appeared to us (And other parents) that the rough kids who's parents were on the ParentTeachers committee never received warnings or exclusions. Pupils who werefor example, in care for which the school received additional pupil premium funding - never received exclusions. It became evident that the Head started to not want to engage our concerns and certainly not to allow them to escalate to more formal levels or written records. Our son is mixed race and has been brought up in a multicultural environment. We were called in to the school to be told that our son had used a racist term and that he would receive a temporary exclusion. He denied this and there was no evidence or witnesses other than the boy (Pupil premium and former bully who we had complained about ) So we told them we didn't agree and that we believed our son would not have done this. He was excluded anyway and no details of appeal were given. We eventually moved him to another primary school that when we looked round, seemed good. However, the record from the previous school we suspect has prejudiced their attitude towards him and he seems to be labelled as a problem child for very minor things constantly. A year later we also applied to the school where our daughter is so they could be at the same school - only to be told that his record shows he has been excluded and is disruptive. We are worried that this record (that we dispute) will prejudice all future opportunities and feel helpless to challenge the accuracy of this or how to stop it causing harm when he is applying for secondary school. What is the legal situation and how can we have this record removed or amended ? Surely this isn't legal?
AJ - 11-May-18 @ 1:15 PM
My son, who is diagnosed with ADHD, has been given a choice of permanent exclusion or a managed move.Should the school have a policy or protocol in place to deal with this?Also, is a managed move merely an unofficial way of permanently excluding a child, without it ending up as part of the school's statistics? Should the LEA be involved in the process, as I am concerned that my son could end up without a school place, if a suitable alternative is not found.Furthermore, we live in a London borough and my son is in a Surrey school, so how does that affect the process?
Binns - 9-May-18 @ 11:40 PM
Jammy - Your Question:
My school gave me ‘early study leave’ so that they didn’t have to pay the exclusion fee. I am only aloud to return for my exams. The reason given for this discision was unjustified and wrong as the story was twisted and my side not heard. Do I have any rights to complain?

Our Response:
You can try complaining to the governors or talk to your education authority if you feel the school has acted outside of its remit.
LawAndParents - 9-May-18 @ 3:42 PM
My school gave me ‘early study leave’ so that they didn’t have to pay the exclusion fee. I am only aloud to return for my exams. The reason given for this discision was unjustified and wrong as the story was twisted and my side not heard. Do I have any rights to complain?
Jammy - 9-May-18 @ 12:46 PM
The high school my adhd son attends which is his second high school this year & he is in yr 7 have openly said they can't meet his needs but I have to wait 5-6mnth for an educational health plan to be drawn up meanwhile he gets exclusion after exclusion & no form of education what so ever! I have rang everybody I can think of because this has been happening for the last 3yrs & my child is so far behind now there's no way he will be able to catch up. Any advice on what to do? The schools just blame each other for failing him but don't actually care about his education
chari2y - 8-May-18 @ 4:13 PM
My daughter has been excluded from a camps international school trip to Kenyabecause of depression. Her medical team support her going on what is a school trip.the school say it is too risky . The appeal has been declined . What can I do
Anne - 25-Apr-18 @ 11:52 PM
It's heartbreaking reading about all of these situations.Our school introduced a new very strict behaviour policy to try and rid the school of any low level poor behaviour. I would say my son is a proper lad and will get dragged in to laddish behaviour unfortunately. Not a bad kid at all and nothing serious. Over last week he spent 22 hours in isolation with a further 4 lots 30 mins detention. A full day in isolation is 8 hours straight - sat at a desk with high sides and no communication - depressing. He was a mental wreck and I had to step and tell the school he could do no longer than 4 hours. He hasn't done anything serious just turning around or a laugh. I completely agree it's important to have discipline but this is absolutely excessive and not proportionate. I'm trying to do everything I can at home to get him to just tow the line but he's 14 and a lad and it's not easy to be THAT good all the time. Demented and worried about him going back now.
Justamum - 12-Apr-18 @ 7:30 PM
My grandson got Education health plan he been excluded for three days he got 25hours behavior support he hit a girl in is class school Saying he targeted it her when he go in is moodsthe head teacher saying he can’t cope with school all day they are asking me if I will let he do part time iv agreed till.easter can they do this and what rights have a got I want him to stay in full time the last schoolhe was never it lost seven months of workthe child parents have reported him to the governessand said she scared of him
Floody - 17-Mar-18 @ 12:37 PM
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