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School exclusions

Exclusion from school means that the pupil is not allowed into school for disciplinary reasons.

There are two types of exclusion:

  • Fixed period exclusion, which can range from half a day to a maximum of 45 school days in a school year (a child can also be excluded for lunchtimes)
  • Permanent

Fixed period exclusion

This means that a pupil is not allowed in school for a specified number of days because they have breached the school's behaviour policy.

Pupils who misbehave at lunchtime may be excluded for lunchtime only. Each lunchtime exclusion counts as half a day.

The pupil is not allowed on the school site for a definite period; however this does not have to be a continuous period. This might apply if a pupil attends college or other off-site provision for part of the week.

An individual pupil may not be given more than 45 days fixed term exclusions in any one academic school year.

When a pupil has a fixed term exclusion, the school must set and mark work for the first five days of the exclusion and from the sixth day must provide a full-time education provision.

Exclusion for more than five days

If any exclusion is for more than five school days, parents/carers can request a meeting of the school to review the exclusion.  The Governors must agree to this request and must meet within 50 school days.

Exclusion for more than 15 school days

When exclusions total over 15 school days in any one term, the Governors must arrange a meeting to consider the exclusion within 15 school days, to which the parents/carers and a LA representative must be invited.

Permanent exclusion

A pupil is permanently excluded for a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy and if their being in school would harm the education or welfare of themselves of others. Permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort and it means that the pupil would no longer be allowed to attend the school.

When a pupil is permanently excluded, the school must provide work for the first five days of the exclusion and the LA is responsible for the education from the sixth school day.

Who can exclude?

Only the Headteacher has the power to exclude a pupil, or in his/her absence the acting head.

Reasons for exclusion

  • All exclusions must be for disciplinary reasons only
  • All schools must have a behaviour policy setting out what the school rules are
  • All exclusions must be lawful, reasonable and fair
  • Permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort

The decision to exclude

When a pupil is excluded parents/carers must be notified immediately, ideally by telephone followed up by a letter.

The school must explain

  • The reason(s) for the exclusion
  • If it is a fixed term exclusion the length of time the exclusion is for
  • The parents/carers right to make representation to the Governors
  • The arrangements made for setting and marking work during the exclusion and for full-time provision if the exclusion is for more than five school days

Standard of proof

The Headteacher's decision to exclude must be taken on the "balance of probabilities". This means that it is more likely than not that the pupil did what they are accused of. This is not the same as the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard required in a criminal case.

When exclusion is not allowed

It is unlawful to exclude or to lengthen an exclusion for a non-disciplinary reason, for example, if a child has special educational needs and the school says it cannot meet those needs.

Behaviour outside school

Pupils can be excluded for behaviour outside school but this should be in line with the school's behaviour policy. This will include behaviour on school trips, when in uniform or on the way to and from school and behaviour which may bring the school into dispute.

Unofficial exclusions

All exclusions must follow the correct procedure and be recorded as exclusions. It is unlawful just to send a child home, even if parents or carers agree.

Definition of 'parent' within the exclusion regulations

The definition of a parent for the purposes of the Education Act is broadly drawn. In addition to the child's birth parents, references to parents include any person who has parental responsibility (which includes the local authority where it has a care order in respect of the child) and any person (for example, a foster carer) with whom the child lives.


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