School Exclusions – Information for Parents and Carers

The decision to exclude a pupil is a very serious matter which only the school headteacher, or delegated authority, can make. The decision to exclude a pupil must be lawful, reasonable and fair. The headteacher can only decide to exclude a pupil when they are sure that:

  • The pupil has broken the school’s behaviour policy (the school rules)
  • And/or if the pupil remaining in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of either the pupil or others in the school.

This video from Warwick Law in the Community (LinC) gives an overview of school exclusions for parents and carers, focusing on how to prevent them, alternatives and what to do when they occur. 

Types of exclusion

There are two main types of exclusion – suspension and permanent.

  • Suspension (previously called Fixed Term Exclusion) means that a pupil is excluded from school for a fixed number of days and a date is set for a return to school. Whilst a pupil has a suspension, they should not return to the school premises, nor should they be in a public place during school hours.
  • Permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort. Headteachers will usually only permanently exclude after a series of interventions to support the pupil. However, there may be exceptional circumstances where one incident leads to a permanent exclusion.

What happens after my child has been excluded?

  1. A headteacher should notify you immediately following a suspension or permanent exclusion. This is usually done either by phone or at a face-to-face meeting, and followed up by a formal letter which should include the following information:
    • The reason for the exclusion.
    • The period of a suspension or, for a permanent exclusion, the fact that it is permanent.
    • The parents or carers’ right to make representations about the exclusion to the governing body and how the pupil may be involved in this.
    • How any representations should be made.
    • Where there is a legal requirement for the governing body to consider the exclusion, that parents have a right to attend a meeting, to be represented at that meeting (at their own expense) and to bring a friend.
  2. Schools should make reasonable steps to set and mark work for your child during the first five days of exclusion. You will need to contact the school to arrange this.
  3. For the first five days of a fixed period or permanent exclusion, you must ensure that your child is not present in a public place during normal school hours without reasonable justification. This applies whether or not your child is with you. Not complying with this requirement has serious consequences which include either a £60 fixed penalty notice or prosecution.
  4. The school has a duty to arrange suitable full-time education from (and including) the sixth school day of a fixed period exclusion.
  5. After a permanent exclusion, the Local Authority should arrange a meeting or phone call with you to discuss education options for your child. From the sixth school day of a permanent exclusion, the Local Authority must ensure that suitable full-time education is provided.

What should I do if I disagree with an exclusion?

  1. Ask to meet with the headteacher to share your concerns and request that they reconsider the exclusion. However, if the exclusion is permanent the headteacher might not agree to this.
  2. The governors must arrange a meeting to review the headteacher’s decision within 15 school days. To ask the governing body to review the decision, send a letter to the Clerk of the Discipline Committee (addressed to the school) as soon as possible after you get the letter telling you about the exclusion. You should have access to any documents regarding the exclusion at least five days before the meeting and should also be notified of your right of access to your child’s school record.
  3. If the governing body uphold a permanent exclusion, you have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel, called the Independent Review Panel. The Panel can uphold the exclusion, recommend that the governing body reconsiders the exclusion, or quash the decision and direct that the governing body considers the exclusion again. The Panel cannot directly reinstate the pupil.

The government publish guidance on managing exclusions. Whilst this document is primarily written for schools, it may also be useful for parents and carers who want to know more about the legislation and frameworks in place.