Home > Children & The Law > School Exclusions and the Law

School Exclusions and the Law

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 23 May 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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[Add a Comment]
Lahmin - Your Question:
My child walked out of school twice without permission to go to the dentist and also missed an exam which she will be charged for. I have a meeting with the teachers tomorrow, do you know the outcomes of what it could be?

Our Response:
This depends on the school's policy really, there are no specified outcomes for particular actions.
LawAndParents - 25-May-17 @ 12:49 PM
My child walked out of school twice without permission to go to the dentist and also missed an exam which she will be charged for. I have a meeting with the teachers tomorrow, do you know the outcomes of what it could be?
Lahmin - 23-May-17 @ 8:38 PM
My daughter has been excluded for 2 days for apparently cyber bullying (she recorded a fight and then denied that she videod and she got caught out that she did) will she still be able to go into collage and university like any other child ?
RoseLee - 18-May-17 @ 9:12 PM
My 10 year old nephew has been permanently excluded from a boarding school for allegedly saying swear words to another child, and the school say it's on the grounds of bullying and harrassment and all they are basing these allegations is the child's words who having reported to the parents, the parents have made a complaint to the school. My nephew denies these allegations but the school believes the other child. We were given information on how to appeal but no information about his education process while waiting for the appeal. I am looking for a legal represantative because this doesn't sit right.
Ten - 10-May-17 @ 3:04 PM
Jo - Your Question:
My 17 year old son has been caught with cannabis at school along with another pupil. The other pupil has apparently been expelled. We have a meeting with the school tomorrow. We are all terrified he will be expelled too. He has never been in trouble at the school before unlike the other pupil. What do you think his chances are?

Our Response:
We really don't know as we have no idea of the school's policies. The fact that your son has never been in trouble before and that he wasn't immediately expelled like the other pupil, suggests he may be given temporary suspension or warning. We really don't know though.
LawAndParents - 5-May-17 @ 12:01 PM
My 17 year old son has been caught with cannabis at school along with another pupil. The other pupil has apparently been expelled. We have a meeting with the school tomorrow.We are all terrified he will be expelled too. He has never been in trouble at the school before unlike the other pupil. What do you think his chances are?
Jo - 4-May-17 @ 5:52 PM
Nono - Your Question:
My son had been sent to another sch to do his isolation.3miles away from his regular sch.a 17yr old boys body was found this wkend only less than a mile away. I'm questioning safe guarding here. it's unreasonable to travel so farI've sent an email to explain this and wont send him. Can I do this

Our Response:
How old is your son? Ask your LEA about their travel policy. Most schools will provide free transport for a journey that is over 3 miles.
LawAndParents - 3-May-17 @ 1:58 PM
My son had been sent to another sch to do his isolation ..3miles away from his regularsch..a 17yr old boys body was found this wkend only less than a mile away. I'm questioning safe guarding here... it's unreasonable to travel so far I've sent an email to explain this and wont send him. Can I do this
Nono - 2-May-17 @ 11:27 PM
Dee - Your Question:
I was informed my my sons school yesterday that he was excluded for something he said to another pupil and they didn't ask him for his version of events. This would be his 3rd exclusion in 2 months and they have said they will be permantly expel him this time as it will go to school governors, my concern is he has his gcse maths exam next month and now worried that he will fail as he won't be able to take the exam. My son is no angel but I think he is being treated unfair on this latest exclusion because something was taken out of context as he has ADHD and will say it as it is. If he's expelled I really don't know what to do.

Our Response:
Speak to your LEA ask them what provisions can be made for him to take his GCSE exams etc. They might be able to send resources and find an exam centre (or another school) where he can sit the actual exam.
LawAndParents - 27-Apr-17 @ 11:59 AM
I was informed my my sons school yesterday that he was excluded for something he said to another pupil and they didn't ask him for his version of events. This would be his 3rd exclusion in 2 months and they have said they will be permantly expel him this time as it will go to school governors, my concern is he has his gcse maths exam next month and now worried that he will fail as he won't be able to take the exam. My son is no angel but I think he is being treated unfair on this latest exclusion because something was taken out of context as he has ADHD and will say it as it is. If he's expelled I really don't know what to do.
Dee - 26-Apr-17 @ 4:16 AM
foxtrot88 - Your Question:
Hi my son is in his 4th school and been stuck in isolaton for 6weeks now until they find him a manged move. I know they wont find one as he is constantly messing about. right now he is not learning what can I do to help him. The first high school he got kicked out for threateing someone with a carving knife. 2nd and 3rd was for fighting messing about. current school possession of a meat cleaver. Yes I know its extreme im shocked he would even have something like that I have not raised him that way. my concern is , is there any way I can get him education without paying for it as I can not afford it. We are going to a open evening at leeds 14+ college. thats far away and still losing educatin. The reason school aint sent him home and kept him in isolation is so I dont get fined which im gratefull for. what are his chances of getting a place in college. I know his back ground dont sound good but he is very clever and puts him self in daft situations and likes showing off. Any comments would be apreciated

Our Response:
Please ask around for help with this. His schooling is important but his behaviour needs addressing first. Can the school recommend someone who can help you with this? If it's not dealt with now it can only get worse. Most colleges only take pupils 16+ and many of those like to see a good behaviour record etc.
LawAndParents - 4-Apr-17 @ 11:10 AM
Hi my son is in his 4th school and been stuck in isolaton for 6weeks now until they find him a manged move . i know they wont find one as he is constantly messing about . right now he is not learning what can i do to help him . The first high school he got kicked out for threateing someone with a carving knife . 2nd and 3rd was for fighting messing about . current school possession of a meat cleaver. Yes i know its extreme im shocked he would even have something like that i have not raised him that way . my concern is , is there any way i can get him education without paying for it as i can not afford it. We are going to a open evening at leeds 14+ college . thats far away and still losing educatin. The reason school aint sent him home and kept him in isolation is so i dont get fined which im gratefull for . what are his chances of getting a place in college . i know his back ground dont sound good but he is very clever and puts him self in daft situations and likes showing off. Any comments would be apreciated
foxtrot88 - 3-Apr-17 @ 10:25 AM
Good evening, My child has been having problems at school. It has now gotten out of hand. Cut the long story short, my concern right now is that she is to sit her GCSE this April however it looks like she may be permanently excluded although they have not yet told me that. But due to ongoing issues I suspect that's where it's heading. My question is, will she be allowed to sit her exams still? Their main issue is that she answers back. She does no drugs, does not smoke, does not skip classes except when suspended or unwell, has over 87% attendance, has never had a fight in her life. The problem has been with two main teachers, one of which is the school principal whom I only realised today has already had a petition against him last year for using racial slurs. I feel they call me for the smallest things. And exclude her if she sneezes. My concern right now is making sure she still sits her exams. Is there a possibility that the school can stop her sitting her GCSE exam? Can she attend only on the days of the exam? I would prefer this because to be honest, my daughter is not happy in the school. It's either she calls me crying every other day or the school calls me to report something. I'm exhausted by it all, it's quite distressing. I have private home tutors for her already, I believe she will still do well in her exams. My daughter herself has contacted the local council to see if she can still sit her exams. We just need some kind of reassurance and to know what steps to take. Kind regards Cynthia
Cynthia London - 23-Mar-17 @ 10:15 PM
S - Your Question:
My son has been given a one day exclusion yr8 how will this effect his future. His behaviour upto this has been excellent he just did something stupid

Our Response:
At year 8 he still has time to improve his behaviour record. It will be noted on his school file but should not affect him further than that assuming he doesn't show any repeat behaviour.
LawAndParents - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:22 PM
My son has been given a one day exclusion yr8 how will this effect his future. His behaviour upto this has been excellent he just did something stupid
S - 22-Mar-17 @ 6:32 PM
I amconstantly being called to pick up my son before I even get home from dropping him at school. He suffers with anxiety and is hurting himself because he is so unhappy at school. He has been to schooloncein a 10 days. It seems to me that the school just can't be bothered to help and support us.
load - 7-Mar-17 @ 10:31 AM
Can my son be kept in isolation for 2or 3 weeks for 6 hours a day while they decide if they are going to permantly exclude him. No experience or interaction with other children
Deano - 1-Mar-17 @ 10:17 PM
Is it exceptable for a school to inform a parent of an exclusion by email at 6.30pm on a Friday evening with no phone call prior to email with no way of contacting the head as out of school hours
Jo - 25-Feb-17 @ 9:16 PM
LightSkinn - Your Question:
I have messaged a techer on Instagram and followed her will I get excluded

Our Response:
You might not be excluded - this will depend on your school's policy, but you should refrain from continuing. It would also be useful to apologise.
LawAndParents - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:24 AM
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
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