No child should be excluded for an indefinite period, or for a non-disciplinary reason, or without formal notice in writing from the head. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be formally recorded.

The statutory guidance ‘Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England’ confirms (at paragraph 14) that ‘informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. This includes children who are below compulsory school age (those under 5), and young people who are above compulsory school age (those in sixth form).

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 (see the page on disability discrimination and exclusions for more information).

Schools should give particular consideration to the fair treatment of pupils from groups who are vulnerable to exclusion.

Only the head teacher has the power to exclude and it must be on disciplinary grounds.

If the head makes an informal exclusion ‘formal’, parents must be notified in writing of their rights, including that of making written representations (see our advice on preparing written representations for more information).

A governing body has been found to have discriminated against a pupil with a disability when placing the pupil on a part-time timetable (F-T v The Governors of Hampton Dene Primary School (SEN) [2016] UKUT 0468 (AAC)).

If you believe your child has been unlawfully excluded from school, you should make a complaint to the school governors.


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