Children with special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities are much more likely to be excluded from school than their classmates.
Only the head teacher of a school (or the teacher in charge of a pupil referral unit or the principal of an academy) can exclude a pupil.
There are only two types of exclusion from a school which are lawful: permanent and fixed-period (which is called a “suspension”). Pupils could be excluded or suspended for a fixed term (for a specific number of school days) or permanently excluded.
An exclusion or suspension for a fixed period cannot lawfully be rolled into or ‘converted’ into a permanent exclusion:
Any exclusion of a pupil, even for a short period of time, must be formally and accurately recorded.
Pupils can only be excluded for disciplinary reasons. They cannot be excluded because a school, pupil referral unit (PRU) or academy cannot meet their needs or for something which their parents did or did not do.
In addition, maintained schools have certain powers to direct pupils off-site for education to improve their behaviour. Academies have similar powers if their Articles of Association (the terms that say how they are to run) are written to include this. There are regulatory requirements about directing pupils off-site which apply to maintained schools and which represent good practice for Academies.
‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions/suspensions, such as sending a pupil home to cool off, are unlawful even if a parent or carer agrees to it. There are certain steps a school has to take for the exclusion or suspension to be lawful.
Unlawful exclusion or suspension of a pupil with a disability could be disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
Most of the information linked below only applies to pupils at:
If your child attends a different type of setting, see the final section below.
As well as the links below, you may also find the Government’s parent guide on school behaviour and exclusion useful.
If exclusion has affected your child’s free school meals, or you are not sure whether your child is eligible for free school meals, you may find these resources produced by Contact helpful.
No child should be excluded for an indefinite period, or for a non-disciplinary reason, or without formal notice in writing from the head
If your child has been excluded, you should consider what actions you can take to try to get their needs met more effectively and avoid further exclusions in the future.
If a school unfairly excludes a child with a disability, this may amount to disability discrimination
Examples and guidance on writing 'written representations' to the Governors
Maintained schools have certain powers to direct pupils off-site for education to improve their behaviour, and Academies have similar powers if their Articles of Association are written to include this
Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be formally recorded
These types of education providers will have their own behaviour and exclusion policies