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Please be aware that this section contains information prepared in 2009 and may now be out of date. Some links may no longer work. We are reviewing this section.


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What is Exclusion?
Your school should have a written policy setting out the standards of behaviour it expects from all its pupils. The policy should also say what the school will do if a pupil’s behaviour falls below these standards. (See separate document on Behaviour for a full explanation of this.) Exclusion is a kind of discipline which the Head teacher of a school can use to deal with any serious misbehaviour. If you are excluded it means you will be sent home from school and will be unable to return for either a fixed period of time (for example one week) or in some cases permanently.

Types of Exclusion

  1. Fixed-term exclusion – this is for a set number of days (at most 45 days in any one school year). You will be given a date when you will be able to return to school and you will not be allowed to go back until that date.

  2. Permanent exclusion – this is a final step used to permanently remove a child from school if all other measures to improve behaviour and include that child in school have been tried and have failed.

These are the only types of exclusion your school is allowed to use.  ‘Informal’ exclusions are not allowed – this means sending a child home from school without a good reason or without following the steps outlined below. 

What are the rules of Exclusion?

Exclusions can only be made by:

  • the Head teacher of a maintained school (Government funded)
  • the teacher in charge of a pupil referral unit
  • a person acting in either of the above roles

Schools must have a behaviour policy which explains when exclusion is the right thing to do, for example:

  • serious instances of breaking school rules (including bullying)
  • where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school

You should not be excluded for:

  • minor instances of breaking school rules, such as not doing homework or not bringing dinner money
  • poor academic performance
  • lateness or truancy
  • breaking school uniform rules or rules on appearance including jewellery, body piercing and hairstyle (except where persistent and in open defiance of these rules)
  • the behaviour of your parents such as them not being able to come to a meeting 
  • for your own protection from bullying by sending you home

Before deciding whether to exclude a pupil, the Head teacher should:

  • make sure that an appropriate investigation has been carried out into the instance of misbehaviour in question
  • consider all the evidence available, taking into account the school's behaviour and equal opportunities policies and, if applicable, the Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts 
  • talk to the pupil to allow them to give their version of events
  • check whether the incident may have been provoked, for example by bullying or by racial or sexual harassment
  • if necessary consult others, but not anyone who may later have a role in reviewing the Head teacher’s decision, for example a member of the governor’s Discipline Committee

Only after carrying out the above steps and if the Head teacher is satisfied that the pupil did what he or she was accused of, may the child be excluded.

The complete set of rules concerning Exclusions is given in Improving Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units (2007).  In this Guidance the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) explains the law and what the government expects from schools and governing bodies when pupils are excluded from school.  By law this guidance must not be ignored. It should be followed unless there is good reason not to.

The other relevant DCSF guidance is the web based School Discipline and Pupil Behaviour Policies guidance.  It covers behaviour issues.

Independent schools, city academies, technology colleges and sixth form colleges have separate exclusion procedures. If you have been excluded from one of these types of schools, your parents may want to ring the NAS Advocacy for Education Service's Education Advice Line on 0845 070 4002 (press option 1) for further help and information.

Exclusion and pupils on the autism spectrum
Over a quarter of children on the autism spectrum have been excluded from school, and just under a quarter of these children have been excluded more than once (Green et al 2005).  These figures are much higher than the rate of pupil exclusion for children who do not have autism because schools are often not able to effectively support pupils who are on the autism spectrum to manage behaviour. 

What can you do if you think you have been excluded unfairly?
Your parents can appeal to the School Governors if you or they feel the Exclusion is unfair and/or if the school has not followed the correct procedures outlined above.  The entire process for Exclusion is quite involved so we have not given you all the details here. There are a number of excellent resources which explain the full and correct procedures for Exclusion and what you need to do if you want to appeal an Exclusion. These are listed in the ‘Get help from…’ section below. 

How will you continue to learn if you are excluded from school?
If you are excluded from school for more than one day, your teachers must set work for you to complete at home. Your parents must make sure that you complete this work and that it is returned to school for marking. Your school must continue to do this up to and including the fifth day of the exclusion period.  Schools must provide suitable full time education from and including the sixth school day of any fixed period exclusion. Local authorities are required to provide full-time education from the sixth day of a permanent exclusion.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCFS) has published guidance on exclusion from schools and Pupil Referral Units in England. The guidance recommends the following minimum hours of supervised education per week for pupils who have been permanently excluded:

  • Key Stage 1:   21 hours
  • Key Stage 2:   23.5 hours
  • Key Stages 3 and 4:   24 hours
  • Key Stage 4 (year 11):   25 hours

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Get help from... 


Advisory Centre for Education: Having a Say A colourful and practical guide for children and young people who have been excluded from school.

Lawyers for Young People: The laws of learning A guide for young people about their legal obligation to attend school and information about exclusions.

Children's Legal Centre Providing legal advice, information and representation for children and young people in all aspects of law including education.
Free children’s advice line: 0800 783 2187

Horsesmouth: mentors for young people An online mentoring system designed to help children and young people work through problems they may have by talking to another young person. A number of mentors are available specifically for young people with a learning difficulty or disability including autism and Asperger syndrome.

Advisory Centre for Education: free exclusion pack A free online information pack for parents of children who have been excluded from school.

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School discipline and exclusions Information from the Government to explain some of the ways a school might try to improve behaviour in its pupils and the measures it can use to exclude pupils from school. Although the information is aimed at parents, you may also find it useful.

Exclusions: information from the NAS Information from the National Autistic Society about fixed term and permanent exclusions.

Improving Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units This is the key government guidance setting out the Exclusions process which must be followed by all schools. 

DCSF web based School Discipline and Pupil Behaviour Policies guidance Further Government guidance covering behaviour issues and exclusions.

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Case studies

Teachernet: Exclusion case studies A range of case studies from schools across England which have implemented successful Exclusion Policies.

Make School Make Sense for Me Real stories from children and young people on the autism spectrum about their experiences at school.

Taking Control: Andre's story Read about Andre’s experiences of the education system.

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