Exclusions from school

3. Suspensions

The headteacher can suspend a pupil for up to a maximum of 45 school days in a school year. Most suspensions are for periods of up to 5 school days, but they can be for longer. A pupil may be suspended for one or more periods, up to a maximum of 45 school days in a single academic year. Headteachers decide about the length of each exclusion or suspension.

Pupils can sometimes be suspended at lunchtimes only. They each count as half a day of suspension. Parents will be expected to collect and supervise the pupil. Usually lunchtime suspensions should not be for more than five school days. Pupils who are entitled to receive free school meals should still receive this entitlement.

You should have received a letter from your child's headteacher telling you the reasons for the suspension, the length of it (in school days) and the date and time when your child must return to school.

If your child has been suspended from school for more than one day, the school will provide work for you to collect and return for marking. Details of these arrangements will be in the letter from the school.

If your child is receiving repeated suspensions, it can be useful to arrange a meeting with school to discuss your child’s behaviour and to identify if they have any unmet needs. Schools should try to identify these and intervene early, to try to prevent more suspensions.

If you decide to arrange a meeting with school, you could ask to meet with your child’s teacher, the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and possibly the headteacher.

If you disagree with the suspension

You should receive something in writing informing you of how you can challenge the decision if you disagree with it.

If your child has been suspended for five days or fewer, you can ask the Governors' Discipline Committee to hear your views. There does not have to be a meeting of the committee and the headteacher’s decision cannot be overturned, but the governors' views will be placed on your child’s record.

For all suspensions of over five school days in a term the Governors' Discipline Committee can overturn the headteacher’s decision and can reinstate the pupil. The committee can reinstate a pupil either immediately or from a specified date. This may not be possible where the meeting is held after the exclusion has ended but a note of any decision will be placed on the pupil’s record.

For suspensions of more than five and up to 15 school days in a term you can ask for a meeting of the Governors' Discipline Committee. This must take place within 50 school days.

For suspensions of over 15 school days in a term there must be a meeting of the Governors' Discipline Committee. This will be within 15 school days.

You are entitled to attend the meeting and can take a supporter or friend. The school will write to you with details and the arrangements for this meeting.

If the suspension means your child would miss a public exam or national curriculum test the governing board must convene a meeting to consider reinstatement within 15 days of receiving notice of it. However, the governing board must take reasonable steps to meet before the date of the examination. If this is not practical, the chair of governors may consider a pupil’s reinstatement alone.

Details of your child's suspension will be entered on their school records.  You have a right to see your child’s school record, and can contact the school to arrange this.

Challenging a suspension

If you want to challenge the decision, you need to show that the suspension was not reasonable, fair or appropriate. Check that the school has followed the proper procedures as in the government guidance document (external link). 

Check carefully your child’s version of events and the school’s - is there any evidence? Did the school follow their behaviour policy? Was your child affected by any other factors at home or school, and if there is an ongoing problem, has any support for your child been considered? If your child’s special educational needs affect their behaviour, has there been any discrimination due to disability?

You can ask to see incident reports and witness statements - the school should have compiled a report of the incident. The school behaviour policy and the school SEN policy/local offer/SEN report should be available on the school website.

To see your child's school record, you will need to request this in writing.

Education during a suspension

For short suspensions it may not always be possible for work to be provided, for example a single, one day sanction.

Generally, however, work will be provided to be completed at home for the first five school days. You will usually need to collect this from the school and deliver it back for marking.

From day six of any suspension, full-time alternative education will be provided. For children in care (looked after children) provision should be from day one. The school or academy should contact you to confirm what arrangements have been made.

Some will provide full time education from day one, if this is the case the school will let you know.

If there are transport issues you should contact the area education office for information.

Return to school

It can be difficult going back to school after a suspension. Your child may have missed work and you may be worried about the possibility of further sanctions. Schools should have a strategy for reintegrating pupils. In many cases there will be a reintegration meeting when your child returns to school. At this meeting it’s important to look at how you, your child and the school can all work together to avoid problems in the future.

It is recommended that you attend the meeting if invited to do so. However, reintegration cannot be delayed if you are unable to attend.

If your child is at primary school, you must attend a meeting if invited. You may ask for a meeting if one is not arranged.

Pupils with particular needs or disabilities

Pupils with disabilities can be suspended but there must not have been discrimination. If you believe that your child has been discriminated against because of their disability, and that this has been a significant factor in their decision, you can raise your concerns with the governors (Pupil Discipline Committee).

If you feel that the suspension was a result of unmet special educational needs (SEN), on return to school you can make a request for:

  • more or different support
  • assessment by an educational psychologist
  • an early or interim review if your child has an EHC Plan
  • ‘reasonable adjustments’ if your child is disabled

If your child is already receiving SEN support at school for their additional needs, a meeting with school can be arranged to discuss if further intervention is needed, such as specialist advice or to request an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

If your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan and is receiving suspensions, a review of the EHC plan should be arranged as soon as possible to consider if the agreed support is being provided and is still meeting the child’s needs. You could discuss this with school and ask them to request a review, or you can contact your local Inclusion Service area team and ask for a review to be arranged.

Make sure that the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) is involved in any meetings.

You can also contact your local Inclusion Service area team or the Information Advice and Support (IAS) Team for advice.

If you are the carer of a looked after child, you must discuss matters with your social worker, who may wish to attend any relevant meetings. Looked after children should only be suspended as an absolute last resort.

In exceptional circumstances, the headteacher may decide to cancel the suspension prior to a formal meeting being held.

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