Generally, exclusion is used as a last resort when all other available alternatives have been tried.
There are two types of exclusion:
- a fixed-term exclusion is for a specific period of time. A child may be excluded for one or more fixed periods (up to a maximum of 45 school days in a single academic year)
- a permanent exclusion is the most serious sanction a school can give if a child does something that is against the school's behaviour policy (the school rules). It means that the child is no longer allowed to attend the school and their name will be removed from the school roll.
My child has been permanently excluded – what can I do?
This can be very upsetting and worrying for you and your child. In this guide we have set out the sorts of things you will need to think about. These fall into the following categories:
(a) what should be happening to your child now s/he is excluded
(b) how your child will be educated in the future
(c) whether to challenge the decision to exclude your child and how to go about it.
What’s happening now
Good practice is that the school provide work for your child for the first five days of an exclusion.
If your child is permanently excluded the Local Authority (LA) must provide suitable full-time education for your child from the sixth school day of a permanent exclusion. Full-time means between 20 and 25 hours a week, depending on the age of your child.
The LA will normally be in contact with you within 48 hours to arrange this.
Informing you about the exclusion
The Headteacher/Principal must tell you about the exclusion immediately, ideally by telephone, followed up by a letter/email within one school day. The communication must include the following information:
- what type of exclusion and the period from what date
- the reasons for it
- your right to state your case to the school governors, how to do this and the latest date by which the school governors must meet (within 15 school days of the exclusion)
- the days when you must make sure your child is not in a public place during school hours
- what arrangements the school has made for your child to continue his or her education for the first five days e.g. by giving homework and marking it
- when your child will be provided with alternative suitable full-time education.
Staying at home
It is very important that your child stays at home and is not in any public place during school hours for the first five days of the exclusion. If your child is found in a public place and you don’t have a very good reason, you may be issued with a penalty notice.
Arrangements for your child’s education
Very often children who have been permanently excluded are sent to a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) or an Alternative Education Provision in the first instance, but this is usually a short-term solution. After that the LA will often use its Fair Access Protocol to offer them a place in a new school.
The Fair Access Protocol is a local agreement about how to get children back in school as quickly as possible. Further information on Royal Greenwich’s Fair Access Protocol is available here.
When can the school exclude a child?
A child should only be permanently excluded from school:
if they have seriously broken the school’s behaviour policy and it would seriously harm the education or welfare of themselves or others if they stayed in school.
In exceptional circumstances, a Headteacher/Principal may exclude for a first or one-off serious offence where such behaviour can affect the discipline and well-being of the whole school for example:
- serious actual or threatened violence against a pupil or a member of staff
- sexual abuse or assault
- supplying an illegal drug or carrying an offensive weapon.
If the basic facts of the case have been clearly established on the balance of probabilities (i.e. it was more likely than not to have happened) and the governors or the Independent Appeal Panel believe that your child has carried out such an offence they will not normally reinstate your child.
A child should not be excluded for minor incidents such as:
- not doing homework or poor academic performance
- lateness or truancy
- breaking school uniform/appearance rules (except where persistent
- and ‘in open defiance’ of these rules)
- behaviour of parents such as parents’ refusal or inability to come to
- a meeting
- for their own protection from bullying.
Incidents outside school
Children can be excluded for behaviour which took place outside school if the
Headteacher/Principal feels that there is a clear link between that behaviour and maintaining good behaviour and discipline within the school which brings the school into disrepute.
Looked after children
Schools are expected to only consider the exclusion of looked after children as an ‘absolute last resort’. Looked after children may have unmet social and emotional needs.
Schools are expected to proactively support and co-operate with foster carers and the LA. Before excluding a looked after child, the school should discuss their concerns with the LA to consider alternatives.
The child’s social worker should be involved at the earliest opportunity to work with the school to avoid exclusion. If your child is looked after, you will need to contact email@example.com
Children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
Schools should avoid permanently excluding pupils with an EHCP other than in the most exceptional circumstances. If your child has an EHCP you will need to contact Royal Greenwich’s SEND Assessment and Review Service by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Challenging the exclusion
You may wish to challenge the exclusion if:
- you want your child to be reinstated in the excluding school
- you don’t want your child back in the school, but you feel the exclusion
- was unfair.
You have the right to challenge the exclusion by making representations to the school governors and, if they don’t agree with you, you can appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel. More information will be provided when you are contacted by Royal Greenwich’s Exclusions Officer.
If you are successful, the exclusion will be overturned, and your child might be given the right to return to the school. However, many appeals do not succeed and not all successful appeals result in the child being reinstated in the school.