What to do if your child is excluded from school
Exclusions can be fixed term exclusions which are a specified number of days or lunchtimes when a pupil is not allowed into school or a permanent exclusion. If your child is excluded the school must write to informing you of the reason for the exclusion, start date of the exclusion and the length of time if they are excluded for a fixed period.
All schools must have a behaviour policy which should set out how pupils are expected to behave in the classroom, at lunch breaks and outside of school, for example, at bus stops. You should be able to download the policy from the school's website or request a copy from the school reception.
Any pupil who fails to follow the school behaviour policy may face sanctions in line with that policy which could include a fixed period exclusion or, as a last resort, permanent exclusion.
Parental responsibilities during an exclusion
During an exclusion, your child is not allowed onto the school site for the period of that exclusion unless specific permission has been given by the school. During the initial period of up to five school days of any exclusion, whether fixed period or permanent, you must ensure that your child is not present in a public place during normal school hours without reasonable justification. If you fail to comply with this requirement you will be guilty of an offence and you might be given a fixed penalty notice of £60.
What happens following the head teacher’s decision to exclude?
When a child is permanently excluded, the local authority will arrange suitable full-time education for your child; this will begin no later than the sixth school day of the exclusion.
The school’s governing board must meet to consider whether they believe the exclusion should be upheld. This meeting should be within 15 school days of you receiving notice of the permanent exclusion. This meeting is called a Governor Disciplinary Meeting (GDM) and you will be invited to attend and given an opportunity to talk about the exclusion and to share any information you consider to be relevant.
Governor Disciplinary Meeting (GDM)
The governing board of your child’s school must consider parent’s/carer’s representations about an exclusion in the following circumstances.
1. The governing board must convene a meeting to consider reinstatement within 15 days of receiving the notice of exclusion in these circumstances.
- All permanent exclusions
- A fixed term exclusion that takes the total days of exclusion above 15 in a term (three term school year)
2. The governing board must convene a meeting to consider reinstatement within 50 days of receiving the notice of exclusion if a fixed term exclusion takes the total number of days above 5 but below 15 for the term AND the parents have requested it.
3. The governing board must consider any representations made by parents if the number of days of the fixed term exclusion is below 5 in a term. However they do not have the power to decide to reinstate the pupil.
Independent Review Panel (IRP)
If Governors decide to uphold the Headteacher's decision to permanently exclude a pupil at the Governors Disciplinary Meeting (GDM), parents/carers, have the right of appeal to an Independent Review Panel (IRP). Parents/carers can appeal the decision at an IRP even if they did not attend the Governors Disciplinary Meeting.
All parents have the right to request the presence of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert at an Independent Review Panel regardless of whether or not a school recognises that a pupil has special educational needs (SEN). The SEN expert’s role is to provide impartial advice to the panel about how SEN could be relevant to the exclusion; for example, whether the school acted reasonably in relation to its legal duties when excluding the pupil.
The Independent Review Panel can either-
- Uphold the exclusion
- Recommend the Governing Body reconsiders their decision or
- Quash the decision and direct the Governing Body to consider the exclusion again
The governing board should confirm the details of where the parents’ application for an independent review panel should be sent in their decision letter. The letter should include the date by which an application for a review must be made, where and to whom an application for a review (and any written evidence) should be submitted (this is normally the clerk of the independent review panel).
If parents believe that there has been unlawful discrimination in relation to the exclusion then they may make a claim under the Equality Act 2010 to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) in the case of disability discrimination, or the County Court, in the case of other forms of discrimination. A claim of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 should be lodged within six months of the date on which the discrimination is alleged to have taken place (e.g. the day on which the pupil was excluded).
If your child is permanently excluded or issued a fixed period exclusion which exceeds 5 school days (including where a child receives consecutive fixed period exclusions) they must be provided with suitable, full time education. For the first five days of any exclusion the school must take reasonable steps to set and mark work for the child. The work should be accessible and achievable for your child outside of school.
Fixed period exclusion
The governing board of your child’s school is responsible for arranging this suitable, full time education which must begin no later than the sixth school day of the exclusion.
If your child has been permanently excluded from school they will be automatically referred to an Alternative Provision School.
The Alternative Provision School (APS) will provide full time education on behalf of the Local Authority from the sixth day of the permanent exclusion. Someone from the APS will contact you to discuss your child's needs before the sixth day.
Where can I find support?
For more information you can contact the Local Authority’s Education Inclusion Service at:
Phone: 01452 427360
Government’s statutory guidance on exclusions: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-exclusion
Sources of free, impartial support and information include
- SENDIASS Gloucestershire (www.sendiassglos.org.uk)
- Coram Children’s Legal Centre (www.childrenslegalcentre.com)
- ACE Education (http://www.ace-ed.org.uk)
- National Autistic Society (NAS) School Exclusion Service (England) (0808 800 4002 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Independent Parental Special Education Advice (http://www.ipsea.org.uk).
- Child Law advice (https://childlawadvice.org.uk/information-pages/school-exclusion/)
FAQ for parents
What aspects do I have to request?
You will need to request that a Local Authority representative attends your child’s Governor disciplinary meeting (GDM) if the school your child attends is an academy.
You will need to request that the governing board meets to consider reinstatement if the number of days exclusion is between 5 and 15 for the term.
You will need to request for an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to be convened to consider the governing board’s decision not to reinstate your child. You have the right to request for a Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert to be present at an IRP regardless of whether the school recognises that their child has SEN.
FAQ answers taken from Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England guidance document, ‘Annex C - A guide for parents/carers’. (Page 56) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-exclusion
The term ‘must’ refers to what head teachers/governing boards/academy trusts/local authorities and parents are required to do by law. The term ‘should’ refers to recommendations for good practice as mentioned in the exclusions guidance.
In this document and in the exclusion guidance, ‘parents’ refers to parent(s)/legal guardian(s)/foster carer(s) of pupils under 18, as well as to pupils over 18, and the term ‘governing board’ includes the governing body of a maintained school, the management committee of a PRU and the academy trust of an academy.
Fixed-period exclusion: when a pupil is barred from the school for a fixed amount of time (including exclusions during lunchtime).
Permanent exclusion: when a pupil is permanently barred from the school premises.
Alternative provision: This refers to the education arrangements made for excluded pupils to continue to have a suitable, full-time education whilst they are excluded from school or cannot attend school for another reason. In some circumstances, alternative provision can be used where a child has not been excluded, including alongside mainstream or special education, or for a placement to address poor behaviour.
Reasons for exclusion
For what reasons can a school exclude my child?
There is no list of set behaviours for which a pupil can and cannot be excluded, and the decision to exclude lies with the head teacher. Head teachers can only exclude a pupil for a disciplinary reason (e.g. because their behaviour violates the school’s behaviour policy). They cannot, for example, exclude a pupil for academic performance/ability, or simply because they have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet. A head teacher can exclude for behaviour outside of school, or for repeatedly disobeying academic instructions.
Can the school send my child to be educated elsewhere?
Schools have the power to send a pupil to another education provider at a different location to improve their behaviour without the parents having to agree.
A school can also transfer a pupil to another school – a process called a ‘managed move’ - if they have the agreement of everyone involved, including the parents and the admission authority for the new school.
Schools cannot force a parent to remove their child permanently from the school or to keep their child out of school for any period of time without formally excluding. The threat of exclusion must never be used to influence parents to remove their child from the school.
Can a school ask me to collect my child/send my child home early without following the formal exclusions process?
‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home ‘to cool off’, are not allowed, even if they are with the agreement of parents. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must follow the formal process including being formally recorded (see below). Any fixed-period exclusion must have a stated end date.
Scrutiny of the exclusion
Can I question the decision to exclude my child?
Parents have the right to make their case about the exclusion of their child to the governing board. For fixed-period exclusions, unless the exclusion takes a pupil’s total number of school days of exclusion past five in that term, the governing board must consider any case made by parents, but it cannot make the school reinstate the pupil and is not required to meet the parents.
For all permanent exclusions, the governing board must consider, within 15 school days of being told about the exclusion, whether the excluded pupil should be reinstated. This is the same for fixed-period exclusions where the pupil will miss more than 15 days in one term, or will miss a public examination (e.g. a GCSE) or a national curriculum test (e.g. a key stage 2 test taken at the end of primary school). For a fixed-period exclusion that brings a pupil’s total excluded days to more than five but under 15 the governing board must consider reinstatement within 50 school days if the parent asks it to do this.
If the governing board decides not to reinstate the pupil who has been permanently excluded, parents can request an independent review panel to review the governing board’s decision.
Information on school discipline and exclusions issued by the Department for Education can be found here https://www.gov.uk/school-discipline-exclusions/exclusions.
What can I do if I feel my child is being discriminated against in the exclusion process, for example because he/she has a disability?
Schools have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against pupils on the basis of protected characteristics, such as disability or race, including in all stages of the exclusion process.
Parents can raise this issue during the exclusion consideration meeting with the governing board.
If the governing board decides not to reinstate the pupil who has been permanently excluded, parents can request an independent review panel to review the governing board’s decision. When making their request parents can ask for a Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert to attend the hearing to advise the panel on how SEN might be relevant to the exclusion. Parents can request this even if their child has not been officially recognised as having SEN.
If a parent believes that their child has been discriminated against in the exclusion process because of a disability, then they may also make a claim to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) within six months of the exclusion: www.tribunals.gov.uk/Tribunals/Firsttier/firsttier.htm . The Tribunal can consider claims about permanent and fixed-period exclusions. For permanent exclusions, this can be done instead of, or in addition to, an independent review panel.
If the parent believes that a permanent or fixed period exclusion occurred as a result of discrimination other than in relation to disability (e.g. in relation to race) they can make a claim to the County Court.
Arrangements for my child after exclusion
Will my child still receive an education?
Schools should take reasonable steps to set work for pupils during the first five days of a fixed-period exclusion.
From the sixth day of an exclusion, suitable full-time education must be arranged for pupils of compulsory school age (primary and secondary school age), except for Year 11 pupils (final year of secondary school) whose final exams have passed. In the case of a fixed-period exclusion of more than five school days, it is the duty of the school to arrange this education, unless the school is a PRU (in which case the local authority should make arrangements). If a parent wishes to raise a concern about lack of, or the quality of, education arranged during a fixed-period exclusion (and their child is still of compulsory school age), they may follow the school’s official complaints procedure.
In the case of a permanent exclusion, arranging suitable full-time education is the duty of the local authority for the area where the pupil lives. If a parent wishes to raise a concern about lack of, or the quality of, education following a permanent exclusion (and their child is still of compulsory school age), parents should complain to the local authority where they live. If parents are unsure about which local authority they need to speak to, they should ask the school for advice.
Does my child still have a right to attend their exams or national curriculum tests when excluded?
This is a decision for the school. Neither the school nor the local authority is legally required to arrange for an excluded pupil to take a public examination or national curriculum test that occurs during the exclusion, although some may choose to arrange for this, either on school premises or elsewhere. Where a parent has concerns about their child missing a public examination or national curriculum test, they should raise these with the school.
What are my duties as a parent when my child has been excluded?
For the first five school days of any exclusion, parents must ensure that their child of compulsory school age is not in a public place during school hours without very good reason. Parents must also ensure that their child attends any new full-time education provided from the sixth day of exclusion (unless they have arranged suitable alternative education themselves).