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Exclusions from school

4. Permanent exclusions

Permanent exclusions are when a child is permanently barred from the school premises and their name removed from the school roll. 

Permanent exclusions should normally be a final (last resort) sanction following a range of other support strategies and disciplinary measures.

Permanent exclusion should only happen:

  • In response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school’s behaviour policy and
  • Where allowing the child to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the child, or others in the school

Permanent exclusion may, however, occasionally be in response to a single, serious, one-off incident.

Some examples could be a child who:

  • has had a history of persistent disruptive behaviour, and the school feel they cannot do anymore
  • has committed a single serious one-off offence, even if they have never been in trouble before. That might be something like assaulting a pupil or member of staff, or bringing a knife or drugs into school. However it is up to each school to define what counts as a serious offence

Pupils can be permanently excluded for behaviour outside school, but this should be in line with the school’s behaviour policy.

Head teachers must inform you without delay of the decision to permanently exclude your child from school and the reasons why this happened.

Your child must not return to the school or enter the school site. The only exceptions are if they are specifically asked to attend a meeting or if the head teacher has agreed limited re-attendance for exams.

If you disagree with the exclusion

You could ask for a meeting with the head teacher to discuss the exclusion and try to find an alternative solution.

Before the meeting, think about what might be the best for your child, for example:

  • a managed move to another school
  • for young people aged 14-16, a flexible curriculum
  • additional support for your child

Challenging permanent exclusion

You will receive a letter from your child’s head teacher telling you the reasons for the exclusion. You should also receive something in writing informing you of how you can challenge this decision if you are not happy with the exclusion.

For permanent exclusions, the School Governors' Pupil Discipline Committee must meet to consider the head teacher’s decision. The meeting must be held within 15 school days of a headteacher's decision. You are entitled to attend this meeting, the school will write to you with details. You can attend and give your views to the governors, or you can send in your written views for the governors to consider.

If the exclusion means your child would miss a public exam or national curriculum test the committee 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.

If you want to challenge the decision, you need to show that the exclusion 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.

You have the right to see your child's school records. You will need to contact the school direct if you wish to see these records.

The Pupil Discipline Committee can confirm the head teacher’s decision or else can overturn the decision and reinstate the pupil (they will set a date for this to happen).

After the Pupil Discipline Committee's meeting, the chair must without delay send you a letter stating the decision reached by the Committee. This will include the reasons for their decision and, where the permanent exclusion has been upheld, confirm your right to have the decision considered by an independent review panel (IRP).

Children with particular needs or disabilities

If the child is in public care (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 excluded as an absolute last resort.

Pupils with disabilities can be excluded but there must not have been discrimination. If you consider that your child has a disability you can raise any issues in your representations to the governors (Pupil Discipline Committee). 

Schools should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding a child with an education, health and care (EHC) plan or a looked after child.

If your child has an EHC plan then the school may present evidence about your child's educational ability, behaviour and social background as well as the facts surrounding the incident which led to the permanent exclusion. The county council may provide a view or comments about whether it feels that permanent exclusion is appropriate or not. You will receive copies of this information in advance of the meeting.

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