Exclusion from school

Good discipline in schools is essential to ensure that all pupils can benefit from the opportunities provided by education. The government supports headteachers 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. Please see the statutory guidance  for more information.

An exclusion is when the headteacher of a school (or acting headteacher) sends a pupil home from school as a disciplinary measure. There are two types of exclusion:

  • Fixed term exclusion
  • Permanent exclusion

Fixed term exclusion

A fixed term exclusion is when the headteacher sends a pupil home for a fixed period.  (The maximum number of days a pupil can be excluded in an academic year is 45 school days).

If a headteacher makes the decision to issue a fixed term exclusion, they will usually telephone the parent/carer to advise them of the exclusion and this should then be followed up with a letter confirming the following:

  • Date and length of the exclusion
  • Reason for the exclusion
  • Specific dates and times when the pupil is not allowed in a public place during the exclusion
  • Details of homework to be set and how it is to be returned for marking
  • How the parent/carer can make representations to the governing body
  • Details of the reintegration meeting
  • If the fixed term exclusion is for a period of more than five  school days, the letter should also give details of the full-time education provision to be put in place from the  sixth day following exclusion.

Permanent exclusion

A permanent exclusion is when the headteacher sends the pupil home with the intention to remove them from the school’s roll.

As with a fixed term exclusion , the headteacher will usually contact the parent/carer by telephone and follow this up with a letter confirming the following:

  • Date of the exclusion and the fact that it is permanent
  • Reason for the exclusion
  • Specific dates and times when the pupil is not allowed in a public place during the exclusion
  • Details of homework to be set for the first five days of the exclusion and how it is to be returned for marking
  • The parent/carer’s right to attend a governing body disciplinary panel meeting (this must be held within 15 school days of the date the governing body were advised of the permanent exclusion), and the fact that the parent may bring a friend or representative to the meeting  and the pupil can also attend (at the discretion  of the parent/carer)
  • Details of the alternative provision (if known) for education from the sixth day following exclusion.

What happens if my child is permanently excluded

The excluding school will notify your home Local Authority (the local authority you pay your council tax to), of your child’s permanent exclusion.

It is the responsibility of the  Local Authority (L.A.) to ensure an education provision for your child from the sixth day of the exclusion – this will usually be a placement at Bromley’s pupil referral unit – Bromley Trust Academy. You will receive a telephone call from the provision who will invite your child in for an interview.

The excluding school must provide work to be completed by the pupil for the first five days of the exclusion. This work should be returned to the school for marking.

The governor’s disciplinary panel (GDP) of the school is required to meet to examine the headteacher’s decision to exclude (within 15 school days of being notified of the exclusion). The parent/carer should be invited to attend, and you are welcome to take a representative (at your own expense) or friend to that meeting. The pupil should also be given the opportunity to attend (if you feel it is appropriate to do so). At this meeting the GDP will hear from all parties and in doing so will determine whether to uphold the Headteacher’s decision to exclude or whether to re-instate the pupil either immediately or from a given date. You will be notified in writing of the outcome.

Following notification of the outcome, you will have the opportunity to apply for an independent review (IRP), whether you attend the GDP meeting or not. This will be arranged and funded by the excluding school/academy (or the L.A. in the case of maintained schools). You will need to notify the school within 15 school days of receiving notification of the outcome of the GDP if you wish to go to for an IRP. Requests outside this timescale will not be considered. At the IRP one of the following decisions will be made:

  • The decision to permanently exclude your child will be upheld
  • The panel will recommend that the governing body re-consider the decision to exclude
  • The panel will quash the decision and direct the governing body to reconsider the decision.

Your questions answered

Unofficial exclusions

The Department for Education has issued guidance about ‘unofficial exclusions’, which are illegal. Fortunately they are rare, but they involve the school sending a pupil home or not allowing them in school, and not writing to the parent to explain why, nor informing the parent of their statutory rights.

Examples of unofficial exclusions could be:

  • The school has asked a parent to collect their child to give them time to ‘cool off’
  • A pupil has been asked by the school to stay at home during a school inspection
  • A pupil is asked to take extended leave prior to their national exams
  • The school has asked the parent to keep their child at home and look for a new school.

Penalty Notices whereabouts of excluded pupils

Schools and agencies (for example the Police) can apply for the issue of a penalty notice to parents of pupils who are found in a public place during the school day whilst excluded. 

Code of Conduct for Education Penalty Notices.