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School Exclusions and the Law

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 22 Feb 2017 |
 
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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Ccc - Your Question:
My 16yr old son has been told he can be permantly excluded because he was searched and on him was cigarettes, lighter and in his bag was rizzla and a grinder (no dugs was found). Please help I'm going out of my mind with worry

Our Response:
If that's the school policy then yes he could be excluded. The school will have to go through their formal procedure before doing this. Contact your school and/or local Education Authorty to get more specific information.
LawAndParents - 23-Feb-17 @ 12:40 PM
My 16yr old son has been told he can be permantly excluded because he was searched and on him was cigarettes, lighter and in his bag was rizzla and a grinder (no dugs was found). Please help I'm going out of my mind with worry
Ccc - 22-Feb-17 @ 2:57 PM
I have messaged a techer on Instagram and followed her will I getexcluded
LightSkinn - 21-Feb-17 @ 6:16 PM
My daughters friend was caught smoking after school hours and off school premesise. The teacher that saw the child has told him that he will be in isolation the following day. Can he do this? As it wasn't on school land or during school hours. Baring in mind the boy is 16.
Nunu - 30-Jan-17 @ 4:14 PM
thedoc - Your Question:
Hi. my grandson was in science class on the last day of term before xmas 2016 he and his friend were in the playground when the teacher told them to attend the form teacher,s room on arriving they was told that two girls who were in the science class had said that he and his friend had sniffed some substance that was in a open neck bottle that all the class had been gathered around without wearing any facemasks we was calledto school and given a information leaflet on what was in the bottle and problems which could arise fron sniffing this substance i.e cardiac arrest we took him to hospital and he was tested the doctor on attention wasn,t very pleased with the reaction the school had took.and give him the all clear today we sent him to school as normal but they sent him home.They said he had been excluded for 2 days and a meeting had been arranged for thursday 5/01/17 not once did the school got in touch with us to ask about his well being or notifing us about the exclusion

Our Response:
Your child's school should let you know about an exclusion as soon as possible and also follow up with a letter telling you how long your child is excluded for and why. You should also be given information about how to challenge the exclusion.
LawAndParents - 4-Jan-17 @ 11:57 AM
Hi. my grandson was in science class on the last day of term before xmas 2016 he and his friend were in the playground when the teacher told them to attend the form teacher,s room on arriving they was told that two girls who were in the science class had said that he and his friend had sniffed some substance that was in a open neck bottle that all the class had been gathered around without wearing any facemasks we was calledto school and given a information leaflet on what was in the bottle and problems which could arise fron sniffing this substance i.e cardiac arrest we took him to hospital and he was tested the doctor on attention wasn,t very pleased with the reaction the school had took.and give him the all clear today we sent him to school as normal but they sent him home .They said he had been excluded for 2 days and a meeting had been arranged for thursday 5/01/17 not once did the school got in touch with us to ask about his well being or notifing us about the exclusion
thedoc - 3-Jan-17 @ 11:46 AM
Can my daughter get sent toisoled straight away at school only from me getting a last minphonecall them them and should I have had a letter for them for them doing it
Brown - 8-Dec-16 @ 12:21 PM
My 6 year old SEN son has been excluded for the second time thus school year. He bit his TA on both occasions. Although I do not condone the biting I do feel the decision to exclude him was irrational and they should consider the fact that he has got serious special needs. What can I do ?
Sami - 7-Dec-16 @ 7:57 AM
My son jas been permently excluded on hear say of some girls out hes class and a teacher surposed to have witneesed my son hitting some but she dint c the girl push my son hes in hes last yr primary with hes sats coming up please help
kel - 24-Nov-16 @ 5:31 PM
Becci - Your Question:
My son is 11 and has just been permanently excluded he has taken a knife into the school which I don't approve of and he is sorry he has never done nothing wrong since he started the school this is his first offence and they have thrown him out with no chance of going back how do I sort this please

Our Response:
Can you talk to your local education authority? Is the school willing to change it to a suspension rather than permanent exclusion? It is however, an extremely serious offence which schools must take seriously.
LawAndParents - 22-Nov-16 @ 10:46 AM
My son is 11 and has just been permanently excluded he has taken a knife into the school which I don't approve of and he is sorry he has never done nothing wrong since he started the schoolthis is his first offence and they have thrown him out with no chance of going back how do I sort this please
Becci - 21-Nov-16 @ 12:29 PM
Hi, my granddaughter has just been permanently excluded for the second time. The first time she set off the school fire alarm for a bet, although I do believe that she was also cheeky and disruptive previous to this. This time (from her second school) she has again been expelled, because she has been badly behaved over a period of time, she swore at a teacher, skipped some lesson and also some other more minor incidents (all of which add up), so she was on a warning. Today she was permanently excluded again because her and her friends were involved in an altercation with some other girls (not physically). she is 15 years old and would soon be taking her GCSE's. My Daughter does not want my Granddaughter to go to PRU school, which I agree, would not be the best solution. What other alternatives are there for her now, she is 16 in 6 months time. We are at our wits end, please could you help. Thank you in advance. Kind regards JMP
JMP - 12-Oct-16 @ 5:17 PM
My son is 13, the first day of senior school he had something stolen out of his pocket, he never said anything and was bullied for the first year of year 7, I contacted the school who did very little to support him. Year 8 the bullies befriended him and he became more challenging both at home and school. I was in constant contact with the head of year and above, they did nothing. When I told them he was having issues in a particular class in the October of his year 8 they did very little to deal with the issue apart from separate them in the class. The culmination was my son reacted to the boy who was constantly belittling him, ended up with green and blue bruising to the side of his face from the boy and I was told my son was now the bully! My sons attitude to the school deteriorated and he only started getting a semblance of support late December/January 16, by this time he wanted to move and I was told he would have to be managed moved. They put him on a project where he attended a unit 3 days a week to deal with his anger issues, although he got off to a rocky start he completed it with a 100% attendance. I applied in June to move him to another school the appeals panel agreed but after we were told he had got a place the school said they didn't feel they could support him! I appealed again and we got the place. He started a few days before the end of term, on our meeting with the head she made it clear she was not happy with this outcome in no uncertain terms. I made the school aware he had only been on a part time table for approximately 6 months and would need careful transition into the school, the first day he was assessed in a suite they use for more unsettled pupils, he was fine, although I was informed they were not happy with the pupils already there that he knew. The second day he was fine all day but on entering the last lesson he couldn't go in (he has anxiety and low mood and doesn't completely understand certain social situations and because he struggles with expressing how he feels he finds it difficult to tell someone). In his last school he was allowed to pace this information was not passed on, so he went walking quietly round the school, he was challenged for no pass and just tried to move on, he did swear which I do not condone but that is because he doesn't know how to correctly express himself (Ed Psychs opinion). My son was stopped coming down a stairwell and because a member of staff put herself in the situation which was already being dealt with by other male members he was restrained to the ground face down with the teacher on top, no warning given, he hit his head on the way down although I was told minimum force had been used (the teacher I was told, split his trousers from crotch to ankle). I was called in for a meeting and we have now been told he may not be allowed back for long in September and if he is allowed back he will have to go into a unit with children with autism and other special needs. My sons an
Archie - 4-Aug-16 @ 1:33 PM
My son is 13 in the past month he has been excluded over 5 times some of which he deserved but some of which are silly reasons..... Like I recieved a phone call telling me my son looked at a teacher aggressively The latest one I understand removed from lesson situation escalated to where the head teacher felt threatened by his aggressive behaviour so she phoned the police..... The police attended my son was taken into a room with 2 male police officers and the head teacher the officers questioned him n the head shouted at him My son asked 6 times for someone to call me each time the head told him no My partner had 1 missed call on his mobile now bare in mind there are 3 contact numbers on my sons file one being my home telephone number yet this wasn't called..... My son was removed from the school grounds n told 5 days fixed term exclusion pending permanent exclusion this was yesterday I didn't manage to talk to someone until 6.30 today Surely my son being under 18 was entitled to a appropriate adult in that room with him.... The head could not be his aa because she called the police so is technically his accuser??? And there were 3 authority adults in that room basically bullying a 13 year old boy this cannot be allowed?? My son clearly has anger issues I have asked for support in the last 6 weeks they have provided 1 anger management session that's it I am at my wits end I know exactly what he can be like and have the supported the school the whole way but I feel like they have over stepped the mark here and I feel I need to take it higher any advice would be so grateful Thanks
Bec - 29-Jun-16 @ 12:01 AM
Hi. Im 16 and my GCSE exams start in less than a week. My school pit me on 'study leave' and told me that i could only come in for exams. My perants were bever notified that i was no longer to attend school and i have had bo reason as to why. I have never been told what i do or what to wear for the exams and i dint know if im allowed to go to the sessions on the day of the exam. I also have to accesess my school acount, will i be able to? Thanks for your time Leigh
Leigh1999 - 18-May-16 @ 11:07 PM
I'm only 12 years old and I'm being bullied in school , by two girls who swear at me , call me names and just talk about me and laugh at me . They are now saying they are going to fight me , and I feel if I do fight them Orr even just hit them I will make my mark and they may stop bullying me , but what will be the consequences of doing it in school ? Thanks
Stella Humphrey - 11-May-16 @ 5:12 PM
James - Your Question:
I'm 16 in year 11 I used to go to a mainstream school but they fort that a 14-16 program in college where you have your own classrooms and base suited me more but I feel as I am being picked on the other students punch the teachers and the teachers punch them back as a joke and the students come in stoned everyday and the teachers send them home but choose not to report it to the people above them as they don't want them to be excluded I've been excluded for 2 weeks and it's for them to make a descion weather to kick me out or not this is my second meeting but I am not happy as I did wrong was be rude to a teacher I didn't shout or swear or threaten and I feel like everyone is allowed to get away with everything I am always being picked on the 2 weeks I've been excluded I've had no work and hardly any contact I have six weeks left of college until I finish and I'm no angel but I think this is unfair and I am scared for my future

Our Response:
Can you get one of your parents to go in and talk to the management team at the school?
LawAndParents - 27-Apr-16 @ 2:15 PM
I'm 16 in year 11 I used to go to a mainstream school but they fort that a 14-16 program in college where you have your own classrooms and base suited me more but I feel as I am being picked on the other students punch the teachers and the teachers punch them back as a joke and the students come in stoned everyday and the teachers send them home but choose not to report it to the people above them as they don't want them to be excluded I've been excluded for 2 weeks and it's for them to make a descion weather to kick me out or not this is my second meeting but I am not happy as I did wrong was be rude to a teacher I didn't shout or swear or threaten and I feel like everyone is allowed to get away with everything I am always being picked on the 2 weeks I've been excluded I've had no work and hardly any contact I have six weeks left of college until I finish and I'm no angel but I think this is unfair and I am scared for my future
James - 26-Apr-16 @ 5:09 PM
My son is 12 he has asd in mainstream school every day I get a call saying he's been excluded for silly things now they are trying to send him to boarding school without my say they never help my child he always getting taken to rooms and left there not getting education I got a letter sent home saying my child been sent home as unwell with his asd wasn't happy as now they using his asd against him I am off to a panel meeting about him only got told that day I've had a noth surely this school can't get away with how my son gets treated it's not fair
Netty - 25-Apr-16 @ 10:22 PM
Milloy- Your Question:
I've been permanently excluded since January, I had been fix-term excluded for three days for unknown reason, I then had a reintegration meeting and had been reintegrated back into school, half an hour later they fix-term excluded me again for two days, yet again Unknown reason, although they sent a letter out stating it would be for two days and stated somebody would be in contact, nobody did infact get in contact so my dad phoned the school in question up to see what was going on, they said that I wouldn't be able to come back, however I never had a letter to clarify that I was being permanently excluded still to this day, I am year 11 with a few month left till GCSEs and have no grades, I had home intuition for the first 3 week and then it got stopped , I've also just found out they've only just sent in the forms for me to go to an AP academy, however they have no idea how long the process will take with all the forms etc, when then after all that I will then be given a place, is this right? Can this be allowed as it is compulsory to complete exams but I am out of full-time education and no education is being completed

Our Response:
If you were not told why you were excluded and your local education authority has not dealt with this effectively, you should complain to The Ombudsman or to your local MP.
LawAndParents - 23-Mar-16 @ 11:26 AM
I've been permanently excluded since January, I had been fix-term excluded for three days for unknown reason, I then had a reintegration meeting and had been reintegrated back into school, half an hour later they fix-term excluded me again for two days, yet again Unknown reason, although they sent a letter out stating it would be for two days and stated somebody would be in contact, nobody did infact get in contact so my dad phoned the school in question up to see what was going on, they said that I wouldn't be able to come back, however I never had a letter to clarify that I was being permanently excluded still to this day,I am year 11 with a few month left till GCSEs and have no grades, I had home intuition for the first 3 week and then it got stopped , I've also just found out they've only just sent in the forms for me to go to an AP academy, however they have no idea how long the process will take with all the forms etc, when then after all that I will then be given a place, is this right? Can this be allowed as it is compulsory to complete exams but I am out of full-time education and no education is being completed
Milloy - 9-Mar-16 @ 5:13 AM
My son has a few months left at school before he takes his GCSE's. He has been excluded in year 10, a total of 3 times (5 days each). My son started the second mock exams and I was told he did not attend an exam. The school have an isolation unit where they send children to when they do not adhere to the codes of conduct during the school day. My son was sent to isolation on Friday so he expected to return there on the Monday of his exam week until told otherwise. The school contacted me that they couldn't find my son although he was in school, he hadn't attended his exam. The school eventually found him and I was contacted by the Head of Year then the Head of the school threatening study leave until the GCSE exams. My son has been terribly unhappy and unable to adjust since attending the school and while he remains average and above average in his abilities, he might possibly leave school with F's. I want him home to protect him as he feels constantly picked on, however, I do not agree with the school that "not attending" an exam should warrant a "permanent exclusion" in the form of this so called study leave. Can I ask the school to send him to a PRU or provide my son with a tutor as being at home from March until May, will not see my son studying or revising.
Charlotte - 7-Mar-16 @ 12:31 PM
Jay - Your Question:
I am 16 I have been excluded from school for 5 days and after my school would place me in a unit to finish of my last 3 months of education before my Exams. This is because I was caught with a grinder(paraphernalia)That I didn't know I had on my possession. Is this a fair eclusion and would I be able to get back into school to finish of my last 3 months of lessons

Our Response:
Is there an appeals process? If it's not clear, you should approach your Local Education Authority and ask whether your case can be reviewed especially if you were unaware of the item in your possession.
LawAndParents - 24-Feb-16 @ 1:01 PM
I am 16 i have been excluded from school for 5 days and after my school would place me in a unit to finish of my last 3 months of education before my Exams. This is because i was caught with a grinder(paraphernalia) That i didn't know i had on my possession. Is this a fair eclusion and would i be able to get back into school to finish of my last 3 months of lessons
Jay - 23-Feb-16 @ 3:32 PM
My 12 year old goes to mainstream school he's been excluded so many time for stupid things he's has asd he loves school but the teachers who deal with him always picking and saying things to him to make him have a melt down then sends him home he's not getting edcation he don't get the help what was put in place for him all they do keep saying gonna be taking your parents to court why say things to a child he's so stressed out the school does care and all they seem to want is my child to leave the school not fair he's has friends there I think they are using his asd against him telling him he's silly child I've trying to sort things out but getting no where so scared for my child as he wants to go to school just they won't let him
Nettie - 11-Feb-16 @ 10:39 AM
Junie - Your Question:
Please can someone help me.I hope you can.my son is 16 and has just been excluded from a special needs school.he has Autism, Anxiety disorder and early paranoia.he has a Statement of educational needs.this girl threatened him by saying she was going to get her boyfriend to come to the house and kill hm, she also said she was going to kick him so hard in the testicles he would never be able to have babies.so my son reacted and sad he was going to kill her.i know my son should not retaliate but he was goaded by this girl.and the outcome was HE was expelled.please help me.he only as 8 weeks left at school.if he doesn't take his exams he wont be able to get into college.please get in touch.they are saying he is only allowed to have 6hrs a week home schooling.i need advice.i heard it was illegal to expel a child due to their disabilities

Our Response:
Speak with your local education authority, it might also be worth trying Citizen's Advice where you can take all the relevant information.
LawAndParents - 5-Feb-16 @ 2:29 PM
Please can someone help me...I hope you can..my son is 16 and has just been excluded from a special needs school...he has Autism, Anxiety disorder and early paranoia...he has a Statement of educational needs...this girl threatened him by saying she was going to get her boyfriend to come to the house and kill hm, she also said she was going to kick him so hard in the testicles he would never be able to have babies...so my son reacted and sad he was going to kill her..i know my son should not retaliate but he was goaded by this girl...and the outcome was HE was expelled....please help me...he only as 8 weeks left at school...if he doesn't take his exams he wont be able to get into college...please get in touch...they are saying he is only allowed to have 6hrs a week home schooling...i need advice..i heard it was illegal to expel a child due to their disabilities
Junie - 4-Feb-16 @ 5:44 PM
My son has recently been excluded from school for throwing a chair after a child pushed him into it.He is currently awaiting an Autistic assessment and has already been diagnosed with other issues.The school always seems to focus on his behaviour and not preventative measures.I recently raised concerns with the school prior to this about lack of support.I feel has been penalised because I questioned practices in the school.
jan - 29-Nov-15 @ 3:58 PM
Hi, My son who is in yr 6 has been excluded for three days. I believe the exclusion is unfair because he was acting in self defense. I have not been given any letter explaining this nor informed of my rights and obligations. I would like to find out where do I stand with the law in this case? Is the exclusion still lawful if it is not confirmed in writing? What happens if I do not receive any letter from school? Thank you
Sara - 25-Nov-15 @ 7:22 PM
My wife received a text message today saying my son had been excluded from school for 3 days. We had to tell him about the exclusion as the school had not told him. Nobody from school has contacted us.
clifton - 7-Nov-15 @ 2:34 AM
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