15: Exclusions

Good discipline in schools is essential to ensure that all pupils can benefit from the opportunities provided by education. The Government supports head teachers in using exclusion as a sanction where it is warranted. However, permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort, in response to a serious breach, or persistent breaches, of the school’s behaviour policy; and where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.

New statutory guidance has been issued in 2015 and full details can be found at:


Please remember that you can contact the Education Team at Capstone if you have any concerns regarding the education of a young person in your care.

The following is a brief summary of the new guidance:

  • The decision to exclude a pupil must be lawful, reasonable and fair. Schools have a statutory duty not to discriminate against pupils on the basis of protected characteristics, such as disability or race. Schools should give particular consideration to the fair treatment of pupils from groups who are vulnerable to exclusion.
  • Disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs. Where a school has concerns about a pupil’s behaviour it should try to identify whether there are any causal factors and intervene early in order to reduce the need for a subsequent exclusion. In this situation schools should give consideration to a multi-agency assessment that goes beyond the pupil’s educational needs.
  • Schools should have a strategy for reintegrating pupils that return to school following a fixed period exclusion, and for managing their future behaviour.
  • All children have a right to an education. Schools should take reasonable steps to set and mark work for pupils during the first five school days of an exclusion, and alternative provision must be arranged from the sixth day. There are obvious benefits in arranging alternative provision to begin as soon as possible after an exclusion.
  • Where parents or carers (or excluded pupil, if aged 18 or over) dispute the decision of a governing body not to reinstate a permanently excluded pupil, they can ask for this decision to be reviewed by an independent review panel. Where there is an allegation of discrimination (under the Equality Act 2010) in relation to a fixed-period or permanent exclusion, parents can also make a claim to the First-tier Tribunal (for disability discrimination) or a County Court (for other forms of discrimination).
  • An independent review panel does not have the power to direct a governing body to reinstate an excluded pupil. However, where a panel decides that a governing body’s decision is flawed when considered in the light of the principles applicable on an application for judicial review, it can direct a governing body to reconsider its decision. If the governing body does not subsequently offer to reinstate a pupil, the panel will be expected to order that the school makes an additional payment of £4,000. This payment will go to the local authority towards the costs of providing alternative provision.
  • Whether or not a school recognises that a pupil has special educational needs (SEN), all parents (or pupils if aged 18 or over) have the right to request the presence of a SEN expert at an independent review panel. 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.
  • Excluded pupils should be enabled and encouraged to participate at all stages of the exclusion process, taking into account their age and understanding.

What happens if a Looked After Child is at risk of exclusion?

Maximising learning time for Looked After Children is paramount.  The school should be proactive in providing support and, for example, alternative educational packages to prevent exclusions.  An early dialogue with all involved, including the child, is essential. Social workers, carers/parents and education staff need to work together to help prevent an exclusion.  A Pastoral Support Plan or timely review of the PEP may be appropriate and/ or relevant.

Only the Headteacher can exclude your child from school. There are two types of exclusion that the Headteacher may decide on:

1. Short or Fixed Term Exclusions

The first time an exclusion is made, it has to be temporary and can only last up to five days. The maximum number of days a child can be excluded in any school year is 45. Sometimes pupils are excluded during particular times in the school day – for example, in lunch breaks.

A fixed period exclusion is where your child is temporarily removed from school. They can only be removed for up to 45 school days in one school year. If a child has been excluded for a fixed period, schools should set and mark work for the first 5 school days.If the exclusion is longer than 5 school days, the school must arrange full-time education from the sixth school day.

Lunchtime Exclusions are counted as fixed term exclusions.  A pupil given a lunch time exclusion should leave the school premises for the duration of the lunchtime and return for the afternoon session.  If, as part of a planned programme, the parent/carer agrees that their child should not stay at school during lunch-time then this will not count as an exclusion.

2. Permanent Exclusion

The Local Authority should act to support schools to ensure that a permanent exclusion for a LAC is avoided.  Exclusion is a very serious step for the school to take.  It is not acceptable to exclude a child outside the formal exclusion process.  This is deemed an unofficial exclusion.  Every LAC must have a full-time timetable unless in exceptional circumstances, which must be approved in advance by the Executive Director of Children’s Services.

If individuals working with LAC believe that a young person is not being offered or provided with full-time provision they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with the school.  If the concern remains, they should contact their VSH or LACES team who will look into the concern to ensure that the offer is full-time and that all parties are in agreement.

Making an appeal against an exclusion

If your child is excluded and you feel the decision is unfair, you can put your case to the governing body. If they uphold the exclusion order, you can go further by appealing to an independent panel. This can be for both fixed term and permanent exclusions.

It is important to remember that exclusion is a legal sanction and you, as a parent/carer, should comply with it.  If you disagree with the exclusion, for any reason, you should, first of all:

  • Try to speak to someone in the school about the exclusion. If you can’t speak to the head teacher, try to speak to the deputy head or your child’s head of year (or class teacher if your child is at primary school).  If your child has received a fixed term exclusion for anything less than 16 days, (apart from in exceptional circumstances) only the head teacher can give permission for your child to return to school before the exclusion is up.

If the school still wants to go ahead with the exclusion, you can ask the Governing Body’s Discipline Committee to meet and review the exclusion.

  • If your child has been excluded for more than 15 days in a term (this could be made up of several short exclusions, or one long one), or has been permanently excluded, the Discipline Committee will automatically meet.  This will happen between 6 and 15 school days of the exclusion that takes your child’s total over 15 days.
  • If your child has been excluded for 15 days or less, you will have to ask the Committee to meet (details of how to do this will be in your exclusion letter).  The Discipline Committee must meet within 50 school days of the exclusion.
  • For exclusions totalling less than 6 days if you requested a meeting, the Committee must discuss the case and write to you with their views on it.  This will be attached to your child’s exclusion and placed on his/her school file.  They cannot, however REINSTATE the pupil (that is, overturn the decision made by the head teacher).

If the exclusion means your child will miss more than 15 days in a term, or you have requested a meeting of the Discipline Committee, the school will write to you to inform you of when the meeting will take place.  If you want to send in any written information in advance, you will be given a date by which to do so. Copies of the school’s written case should be sent to you in advance of the meeting.

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