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School Exclusions and the Law

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 25 Apr 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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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
has A parent have right to refuse referrals to pru and if parents refuse can they receive a fine or charges. Please advise me. What is in parent right
Amazing - 25-Apr-18 @ 11:38 AM
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
if your child has been excluded from high school the principal has to find another school or course for your child to attend . and it is best to make sure you get alot of info before agreeing in sending them . as there are alot of courses out there that a very good and bad in most cases its where all troubled kids get sent to . some that have really bad back ground and it mite be the last place you would never want your child to go
dest - 27-Feb-18 @ 10:54 AM
Concernedmum - Your Question:
Hi my 14 year old son who has never been in trouble at school previously and is on target to get 6’s & 7’s in his GCSE’s has been permanently excluded after a stupid mistake in class. He was originally give a fixed 5 day exclusion which they have now converted to a permanent exclusion with no further evidence coming to light. He had admitted to doing what he is accused of but as an accident and not deliberately. The school Are not forthcoming with his school record or why they have decided to convert it to a permanent exclusion. He does not pose a threat to himself or any other students or staff. My only concern is he has mental health issues and has used drugs in the past. At the time of finding out about this I was the one Who approached the school For help. There has been no actual procedure followed with regards to this and I have been asking for copies of his pastoral care plan or IEP because one should really have been completed shouldn’t it? Can you please give me some advice? I am going to appeal as far as I can. Thank you

Our Response:
To start with, write a formal letter to chair of governors stating your concerns as you've detailed them above.
LawAndParents - 20-Feb-18 @ 3:24 PM
I desperately need help. In September my son who is 16 and he’s in his final GCSE year has been excluded from school for kicking juice carton in the play ground at lunch time. I wasn’t even informed about my sons exclusion nor any contacts on his school file. I’ve had to chase the school for nearly 4 days to get an explanation from them.After 5 days exclusion principal of the school started pushing me for managed move . At that point my son’s health was in a bad state due to what happened and we were seeking CBT professional help. School never replied to any of my emails. Eventually when we had a meeting with principal I was disgust by principal manner of speaking and accusing my son of things I was never informed about previously. Like him being disruptive in classes and him not wanting my son in his school anymore. He even tried to accuse my son of smoking pot and pushing my son to lose his temper mentioning his missing father. It was clear for me then that I don’t want my son to go to that school anymore I agreed to managed move and wrote an official complaint to school governing body to which up to this day I haven’t received any response. Managed move school since November was going fine. No warnings or letters or phone calls. Today I’ve had a meeting which was said it’s a review 6 weeks meeting( he’s been attending school for 3 months already). And the principal just told us that he’s terminating managed move as my son is being late to lessons and that he truanted few lessons. I’m completely devastated and strongly feel he’s been discriminated and victimised and what happened in previous school just carries on. My sons emotional state is shattered . This means we have to go to previous school and face the man that caused him and me as his mom so much trauma and he will probably now push for permanent exclusion. There are a lot more details about school failing to follow the procedure of exclusion and an appropriate manner of dealing with situation but I tried to give here main facts. Could someone please give me some advise what shall I do.
NJ - 19-Feb-18 @ 10:45 PM
My son has just turned six and in Year One at a private achool. He has some OT needs and moves around a lot which they don’t like. He has struggled to settle into Year on e structured learning and we think he maybe showing signs of anxiety and avoidance due to being dyslexic. We were called into a surprise meeting with the school where they declared that they think we should look for another school for our child, one that could meet his needs more. We asked for time to get an Educational psyc report to investigate dyslexia as he’s showing signs of that but they did not seem keen at all only to get rid of him. They are citing reasons like poor academic performance but we’ve not been given any targets to meet or work towards. What are our rights in this situation we feel very powerless. Surely they just can’t get rid of our 6 year old like that.
Virginia Hunter - 17-Feb-18 @ 7:39 PM
Hi my 14 year old son who has never been in trouble at school previously and is on target to get 6’s & 7’s in his GCSE’s has been permanently excluded after a stupid mistake in class. He was originally give a fixed 5 day exclusion which they have now converted to a permanent exclusion with no further evidence coming to light. He had admitted to doing what he is accused of but as an accident and not deliberately. The school Are not forthcoming with his school record or why they have decided to convert it to a permanent exclusion. He does not pose a threat to himself or any other students or staff. My only concern is he has mental health issues and has used drugs in the past. At the time of finding out about this I was the one Who approached the school For help. There has been no actual procedure followed with regards to this and I have been asking for copies of his pastoral care plan or IEP because one should really have been completed shouldn’t it? Can you please give me some advice? I am going to appeal as far as I can. Thank you
Concernedmum - 16-Feb-18 @ 9:00 PM
My daughter was given a fixed term exclusion for 1 day when she was in secondary schooland this went ontoher child record would this affect her future plans
GW - 15-Feb-18 @ 11:24 PM
My son has has sever week long exclusions for having a meltdown. He is nearly 13 now and diagnosed with ASD. He has never hurt anyone and for him it is mostly shouting, swearing and in some cases kicking a bin! There has always been a serious situation leading up to this, never for no reason, and yet I have now been told the next time will mean permanent expulsion. This week he was awarded a trip for a select few kids doing excellent work in history and yet when he had a minor meltdown the day before the school suddenly decided that he shouldn't go due to a sudden risk-assessment. My son was completely devastated, having told everyone he was going, so proud and excited that his hard work had been recognised. I am so fed up I am currently writing to any and organisations to complain about the school. Not sure if I can mention the name of the school so I won't here. His grades have fallen and he hates school now. That is what they have done.
NC-J - 10-Feb-18 @ 2:23 PM
i desperately need help,my 14 year old grandson has been threatened with permanet exclusion due to his appauling behaviour at his school ,over a long period of time. The school have tried everything to help my grandson,but nothing has work. Now he knows he will end up in another school/unit and he is refusing to go ,my daughter is worried sick about the backlash this will have on the rest of the family as he kicks off at the slightest thing, and we are concerned he will be aggressive, what can we do.
Mindi - 9-Feb-18 @ 7:52 PM
My child is on his second fixed term exclusion,he is autistic and has a diagnosis of challenging behaviour and has a ehcp in place, this exclusion is due to kicking punching and biting,all of which is in his ehcp, where do i stand qith this, he is 5 and doesn't understand he's doing anything wrong
Annoyed - 7-Feb-18 @ 6:36 PM
Michelle - Your Question:
My son was permanently excluded from school in January this year his track record is excellent his school work is excellent however he made a silly mistake the school upheld his exclusion, he is 17 and was doing a levels, I have not received any information as to where we go for him to continue his education, there is no help out there. My son is very clever and that’s what got him into trouble please help his date of birth 17/10/00

Our Response:
It's probably worth looking around at local 6th form colleges in the area. Talk with college management/admission staff personally along with your son to see what the options are for him.
LawAndParents - 29-Jan-18 @ 3:46 PM
My son was permanently excluded from school in January this year his track record is excellent his school work is excellent however he made a silly mistake the school upheld his exclusion, he is 17 and was doing a levels, I have not received any information as to where we go for him to continue his education, there is no help out there . My son is very clever and that’s what got him into trouble please help his date of birth 17/10/00
Michelle - 29-Jan-18 @ 11:09 AM
My son has been sent home for 3 days then back to school for 2 days isolation this is because he stuck up for him self yes he breached the schools policy but this is a boy who has never been in trouble and has always been bullied he's finnaly found strength to stand up for himself he's being punished, the bullies have got away with it why? I'm absolutely gutted for my son .
Louchoe - 24-Jan-18 @ 9:48 PM
Hello my 14 year old son has ADHD and the school are aware of this but I feel he is being punsihed in the wrong way, can they isolate him for whole days without breaks? And then keep him for an hours detention following the whole day isolation? I feel isolation is too much for him and I have explained this to the school but they are very difficult to get them to hear my feelings
H - 22-Jan-18 @ 7:54 AM
SLA1602 - Your Question:
Hi,My 8yr old son was excluded on Friday. His exclusion letter states it is a half day exclusion as he was present for morning registration. My son was excluded at 10:06am. We have rejected the letter but the headteacher says the letter is correct. My son has been excluded multiple times officially and unofficially and we are applying for EHCP (he has ASD and ADHD) so this evidence when correct all helps our case. Please can you confirm if half day is correct?

Our Response:
Yes, even a lunchtime exclusion is considered to be the equivalent of half a day.
LawAndParents - 16-Jan-18 @ 2:15 PM
Hi, My 8yr old son was excluded on Friday. His exclusion letter states it is a half day exclusion as he was present for morning registration. My son was excluded at 10:06am. We have rejected the letter but the headteacher says the letter is correct. My son has been excluded multiple times officially and unofficially and we are applying for EHCP (he has ASD and ADHD) so this evidence when correct all helps our case. Please can you confirm if half day is correct?
SLA1602 - 13-Jan-18 @ 4:53 PM
My sons primary school have just decided to change their policy on walking to and from school for year 6 students. My child has been happily walking to a from school since the beginning of this school year with out issues, he is a very responsible 11 year old and enjoys being trusted to make his own way to and from school, he has never been late either getting to school or coming home. The school has only given 2 weeks notice of this change in their policy and the reason is because some children from the local secondary school have caused some trouble with some younger children from this school. The school is saying that they will not release our son from the school unless someone turns up to collect him, and that if he turns up to school unaccompanied he will be refused entry. My question is, is this legal, can any school hold my child hostage and threaten to not allow him into school if unaccompanied, I can’t find any information on this subject. The school even said if did not like their policy we could always take him to another school. Regards Joe
Joe - 4-Jan-18 @ 8:44 AM
My sons primary school have just decided to change their policy on walking to and from school for year 6 students. My child has been happily walking to a from school since the beginning of this school year with out issues, he is a very responsible 11 year old and enjoys being trusted to make his own way to and from school, he has never been late either getting to school or coming home. The school has only given 2 weeks notice of this change in their policy and the reason is because some children from the local secondary school have caused some trouble with some younger children from this school. The school is saying that they will not release our son from the school unless someone turns up to collect him, and that if he turns up to school unaccompanied he will be refused entry. My question is, is this legal, can any school hold my child hostage and threaten to not allow him into school if unaccompanied, I can’t find any information on this subject. The school even said if did not like their policy we could always take him to another school. Regards Joe
Joe - 4-Jan-18 @ 8:09 AM
My sons primary school have just decided to change their policy on walking to and from school for year 6 students. My child has been happily walking to a from school since the beginning of this school year with out issues, he is a very responsible 11 year old and enjoys being trusted to make his own way to and from school, he has never been late either getting to school or coming home. The school has only given 2 weeks notice of this change in their policy and the reason is because some children from the local secondary school have caused some trouble with some younger children from this school. The school is saying that they will not release our son from the school unless someone turns up to collect him, and that if he turns up to school unaccompanied he will be refused entry. My question is, is this legal, can any school hold my child hostage and threaten to not allow him into school if unaccompanied, I can’t find any information on this subject. The school even said if did not like their policy we could always take him to another school. Regards Joe
Joe - 3-Jan-18 @ 9:59 PM
My 14 year old son refuses pe he has never done it his teacher puts him in isolation for 6hours meaning he misses other lessons is this legal. Isolation room is locked even fire exit door how long should a child be in isolation.school must think it's a borstal have I got the right to refuse him going to isolation
Mezza - 21-Dec-17 @ 10:31 PM
My daughter was attacked at school by another girl. Teachers intervened and one got injured. They were both given a 5 day exclusion while the school gathered witness statements. School have now issued a permenant exclusion and we are to attend the governing panel in 15 days. School have not given me any more information about the incident other than when I went to collect her from school, have said that I will receive copies of the statements 5 days before the panel meeting. My daughter is adamant that she was attacked, defended herself and that she did not harm any teachers. I have asked for copies of statements etc but they have said I have to wait til the 5 days. Any advice please?
Jam - 15-Nov-17 @ 9:23 AM
Hi, my child got fixed exclusion for fighting a girl who bullied her at school. I know that is a breach of behaviour. I understand the consequeces but I think the school hasn’t been fair. The other child also fought my child but has nit been excluded whilst my child has three days of isolation and three days of exclusion. To add to this she will not go to her prom. I think my child has been treated unfairly. Please advice .
Nana - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:25 PM
A 10 year old boy sexually assaulted my daughter. It was a violent serious attack. The school were informed by another child's mother. They asked my daughter but she said nothing happened. The mother told the school to ask her daughter. She told the CPO and the headteacher that this boy pinned my daughter against a wall and thrusted against her until she cried. One boy shouted that my daughter was being raped. The school made this witmess write down the word sex and rape as she did not umderstand what they meant.That happened 8 months ago, we only found out this week. It turns out this boy jas beem sexually abusing my daughter since. Forcing her to kiss him and asking for blow jobs and tosee her genitals. He has now talen to slapping her accross the face. My daughter is self harming because of the trauma. We complained abput the slap but the school ignored us at first so we took a social worker and they did a report amd said they put measures in place to safeguard her. 2 days later the same boy attacked her again. The police are now involved but the school is trying to intimidate the witness and are trying to isolate us from any support. We actually habe evidence as we spoke to our MP and the school have requested they do not get involved. They have sent her an email full of lies... This boy has alreadyphysically assaulted both my children and my nephew and around 5or 6 other children, yet he is still in school and still attacking children... How many times can a child sexually assault abuse and physically assault someone until they are removed. I cannot send my children to school as he knows we contacted the police and they are afraid he will attack them and the school will do nothing. We know that children in the school are no longer reporting as nothing ever happens... What can we do? Why should my children be denied an education in a safe emvironment free from sexual and physical abuse because one boy is terrorising the whole year? Any help would be appreciated as the school are trying to imtimidate us into backing off..
MF - 27-Oct-17 @ 8:19 PM
JusticeNeeded - Your Question:
My son aged 12, Year 8 as of September 2017 reported a teacher for touching his genitals over his trousers at the end of Year 7. The day before Year 8 was to commence, Sept 2017 I was informed via email that he wasn’t due at school as per his peers on the first day of the new term. A meeting was had on this day, informing me that my son was to be given a fixed 5 day exclusion as they formed the idea it was malicious. Albeit another student saw half of what happened, and 2 others saw the teacher by my son at the time. On day 5 of the exclusion another meeting was had. The headteacher wanted to question my son again over his allegation. I refused, as per legislation I believe my son should not have to go through what happened again. All investigations I had been told were complete. The headmaster then changed my sons 5 day exclusion to a permanent exclusion. After a few weeks my son was offered a ‘managed move’ however after 2 1/2 days I was called to the School and told his placement there was over as there was talk at the new school of what happened to my son at the previous school. My son is an A grade student who has never been in trouble at school and nothing but excellent school reports. He still has no schooling provision. The original school are stating he needs to go to a PRU. My son has never been in trouble and I fear for him going to such a unit, having worked in them myself. What Can I do? My son is become seriously depressed over this and just so desperate to be in school. Any advice would be hugely appreciated. Thank you!

Our Response:
We can't really help with specific cases like this as there's obviously a lot of information we don't have. It sounds like at this stage you need some kind of professional or legal advice - the Child law advice service is a low cost option for this
LawAndParents - 20-Oct-17 @ 10:31 AM
My son aged 12, Year 8 as of September 2017 reported a teacher for touching his genitals over his trousers at the end of Year 7. The day before Year 8 was to commence, Sept 2017 I was informed via email that he wasn’t due at school as per his peers on the first day of the new term. A meeting was had on this day, informing me that my son was to be given a fixed 5 day exclusion as they formed the idea it was malicious. Albeit another student saw half of what happened, and 2 others saw the teacher by my son at the time. On day 5 of the exclusion another meeting was had. The headteacher wanted to question my son again over his allegation. I refused, as per legislation I believe my son should not have to go through what happened again. All investigations I had been told were complete. The headmaster then changed my sons 5 day exclusion to a permanent exclusion. After a few weeks my son was offered a ‘managed move’ however after 2 1/2 days I was called to the School and told his placement there was over as there was talk at the new school of what happened to my son at the previous school. My son is an A grade student who has never been in trouble at school and nothing but excellent school reports. He still has no schooling provision. The original school are stating he needs to go to a PRU. My son has never been in trouble and I fear for him going to such a unit, having worked in them myself. What Can I do? My son is become seriously depressed over this and just so desperate to be in school. Any advice would be hugely appreciated. Thank you!
JusticeNeeded - 17-Oct-17 @ 5:13 PM
Kit442000 - Your Question:
My son (13) was excluded today for 1 day and will not be permitted to attend school untilI go in for a meeting (I work full time and this may be tricky).Anyway he has been excluded for running across the road after school and not listening to the teacher when he tried to speak to him. They called my father to inform me of the exclusion (not sure why). Is this exclusion for 1 day even lawful?

Our Response:
You can check this in your school's policy documents and yes a school can give a one day exclusion. What exactly are you suggesting is the unlawful part of this? (The behaviour of pupils outside of school can be considered as grounds for exclusion)
LawAndParents - 13-Oct-17 @ 3:30 PM
My son (13) was excluded today for 1 day and will not be permitted to attend school untilI go in for a meeting (I work full time and this may be tricky). Anyway he has been excluded for running across the road after school and not listening to the teacher when he tried to speak to him.They called my father to inform me of the exclusion (not sure why).Is this exclusion for 1 day even lawful?
Kit442000 - 13-Oct-17 @ 1:25 AM
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