Exclusion from school
Exclusion is when a school sends a pupil home and doesn’t allow them to return for a certain number of days. If your child has been excluded, it can feel worrying or upsetting for you and your child.
Exclusion is a serious step and should only be used as a last resort. The school should always consider your child’s support needs and wellbeing when they’re making decisions about exclusions.
If my child has additional support needs, can they be excluded?
In general, the same school rules apply to all pupils. This means pupils with additional support needs can be excluded.
Schools should take extra care when deciding whether to exclude a pupil with additional support needs. They should consider whether a pupil’s behaviour is directly linked to their support needs, or whether it’s because the right support is not in place. They should always think about the impact an exclusion will have on a child’s wellbeing and support.
If your child is disabled, the school must make sure that they are not treating them unfairly by excluding them. If the school excludes your child because of behaviour connected to their disability, this may be unlawful discrimination.
Schools must also take particular care when considering and managing the exclusion of care experienced pupils, or others with current or past difficult life circumstances.
Disabled pupils and the law
Factsheet explaining the main laws that apply to support and adaptations for disabled pupils at school and nursery.
What happens when a child is excluded?
Schools have to follow a set of rules when excluding a child. This includes:
- contacting you on the day to tell you that your child has been excluded
- arranging a meeting with you to discuss the exclusion
- writing to you within eight days to tell you why they were excluded, any conditions that need to be met for them to return, and about your right to appeal the exclusion.
Our factsheet on exclusion explains the procedures that schools must follow in more detail.
If these rules aren’t followed and the exclusion isn’t recorded, it could be an ‘unlawful exclusion’.
Exclusion from school
This factsheet explains when a school can exclude a pupil, the procedures the school must follow, and how you can appeal an exclusion.
Can my child still access learning while they’re excluded?
Your child still has a right to an education while they are off school. If they’re only excluded for a few days, they might not get any teaching, but the school may send them some work home to complete.
If your child is excluded for longer, alternative arrangements for them to continue learning should be made. This should happen without an unreasonable delay and generally after three days of exclusion. This could happen at home, in another school, or somewhere like a library or community centre.
If your child gets support from other professionals, for example speech and language therapy, this should carry on while they’re excluded.
Can I appeal the exclusion?
You, or your child if they’d understand how to, have the right to appeal against an exclusion. There is no legal deadline for appealing, but it’s usually best to submit it as soon as you can to try and get things resolved quickly.
Exclusion appeals go to your local authority’s education appeals committee. The school must tell you how to appeal in the letter you are sent after the exclusion. Our factsheet on education appeals committees gives detailed information on how this works.
If your appeal is successful, the details of the exclusion will be removed from your child’s school records and can’t be disclosed (for example to a future employer).
Education appeal committees
Factsheet explaining what appeals you can take to an education appeal committee, and how the process works.
What happens when my child goes back to school after an exclusion?
Before and after they return, the school should work together with you and your child. Together you can try and work out what led to the exclusion, and what steps can be taken to avoid it happening again. It’s important that they listen to your child’s views about what happened and what would make a difference for them going forward.
It’s often helpful to ask for a discussion about the support your child is receiving, to see if any different supports or strategies might help them. If your child has a written support plan, you could ask if this can be reviewed.
My child sometimes gets distressed at school and is sent home
If your child is sent home but formal procedures for exclusion aren’t followed and it isn’t recorded, this could be an ‘unlawful’ exclusion. This is because all forms of exclusion, including ‘cooling-off periods’, ‘informal exclusions’ and saying your child cannot cope with a full day, have to be recorded by the school.
If your child sometimes becomes distressed at school, staff should try and predict and plan for the type of situations that can trigger them to feel overwhelmed, upset or frustrated. They should try to work out what is causing them to feel this way and how to keep your child feeling calm, safe and supported at school. Any plans made should consider how your child’s support needs affect their communication and behaviour.
They should do this by working together with you and using their own knowledge of your child. They can also involve other professionals, like educational psychologists, if they feel more advice and input would be helpful.
If your child is regularly sent home, this is probably a sign that they need more or different support. You can contact the school and ask them what can be done next to avoid this continuing, and to make sure the right support is in place.
Five steps you can take if your child is being unlawfully excluded.
Avoiding and solving problems
This factsheet explains the steps you can take if you are worried or unhappy about your child’s support, and some of the further steps you can take if you are in a disagreement with a local authority.
Exclusions can be a sign that more or different support is needed. If your child has been excluded or is at risk of it happening, ask for a review of their support and for a discussion about what steps could be taken to avoid exclusion.
Your child’s wellbeing should be at the centre of any decisions made about their education and support. Ask the school how they’ll support your child to deal with the impact of any incidents that led to the exclusion, including on their social and emotional wellbeing.
If you think your child has been unfairly treated because they are disabled or for another reason, you can get advice from the Equality Advisory and Support Service who are experts in equality and discrimination.