An exclusion is when a Head Teacher decides to send a pupil home from school as a disciplinary measure.  Only the Head Teacher (or, in the absence of the Head Teacher, the Acting Head Teacher) can exclude a pupil.

What kinds of exclusions are there?

There are two types of exclusion, fixed period and permanent.

  • Fixed period exclusion is where a pupil is excluded for a fixed number of days or lunchtimes and must return to the school once the exclusion has ended. A decision to exclude for a fixed period should be taken only in response to breaches of the school's behaviour policy, where these are not serious enough to warrant permanent exclusion and lesser sanctions are considered inappropriate.
  • Permanent exclusion means a pupil cannot return to the school they are excluded from unless the school governing body, or an Independent Appeal Panel, overturns the Head Teacher's decision. The decision to exclude permanently is a serious one.  It is an acknowledgement by the school that it has exhausted all available strategies for dealing with the pupil and should normally be used as a last resort.

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How am I told that my child has been excluded?

Head Teachers must contact parents on the day the decision is made to exclude their child, ideally by phone.  A letter must follow confirming the details of the exclusion and how parents can have their say to the school governing body.

What are my responsibilities as a parent during exclusions?

If your child is of compulsory school age, for the first 5 days of any exclusion:

  • You have a legal duty to ensure that your child is not present in a public place during school hours unless you can prove reasonable justification for this. You may be prosecuted or given a fixed penalty notice if you do not comply with this duty.
  • School will set work for your child to do. It is your responsibility to ensure this is completed and returned to the school for marking.

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How many times can my child be excluded?

Fixed period exclusions are limited to a cumulative total of 45 days in any one academic year (lunchtime exclusions count as half days). This total applies to the child and not to the school they attend. Therefore, if a pupil changes school during an academic year, any previous exclusions in that academic year count towards the limit of 45 days.

How can I have my say about the exclusion?

Firstly, you may wish to talk to discuss the exclusion with the Head Teacher.

The school governing body must consider any views you wish to put about the exclusion. You can put your views:

  • In a written statement for all exclusions and/or
  • In person, for permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions totalling more than 5 days in a term. You can take a friend or legal representative with you, someone whose advice you would find helpful or who can speak on your behalf.  Excluded children under the age of 18 should be allowed and encouraged to attend the meeting.

Details of how you can have your say to the school governing body will be sent to you in the exclusion notification letter.

Pupils who are aged 18 or over can make their own representations.

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What is the role of the school governing body?

Schools have a committee whose role is to consider exclusions imposed by the Head Teacher. It has at least three members and a clerk to organise its meetings. The Head Teacher cannot be a member.

The committee must decide "on the balance of probabilities" whether your child has done what has been alleged and whether the Head Teacher's decision to exclude was justified based on the evidence.

The committee must send you written confirmation of its decision within one school day of its meeting. A note will be placed on your child's school file together with copies of relevant papers.

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Where can I get help and support if my child is excluded?

The Local Authority’s Access and Attendance Service will:

  • Provide information about exclusion procedures, parents' rights of representation and appeal
  • Establish and maintain contact with parents and pupils where appropriate
  • Provide information on options for permanently excluded pupils to continue their education
  • Support the reintegration of permanently excluded pupils
  • Help to forge positive partnerships between our Pupil Referral Unit, home and school community
  • Represent the Local Authority at Independent Appeal Panels for exclusions.

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Contact the Access and Attendance Team


Phone: 0191 277 4500

Other Information You May Find Useful

  • The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) - an independent national advice centre for parents of children in state schools.  It offers information and support on state education in England and Wales, including on exclusion from school.  It can be contacted: Phone 020 7704 9822, text 'AskACE' to 68808 or the ACE Website (external site opens in a new window)
  • Carers of looked after children should contact the child's social worker or seek advice from the Virtual School.
  • Parents of children with special educational needs and or disabilities can contact the Parent Partnership.

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Page last updated: 
26 April 2017
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