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Expulsion and Suspension Laws

In England and Wales there are two different types of exclusion from school.

The first is called fixed term exclusion, where the child is excluded from school for a specified amount of time. The second type of exclusion is permanent exclusion where the child cannot return to the school.

Permanent exclusion is seen as a last resort and will only occur when all other methods of discipline have failed to improve the behaviour of the child. Fixed term exclusion will be resorted to when the child has broken the school rules to the extent that other lighter punishments (such as detention) will not suffice.

Official exclusion guidelines

The official guidelines for the exclusion process are as follows;

 The head teacher must give a written notice to the parents informing them of:

  • the precise period and the reasons for the exclusion;
  • the duties of the parent(s)/guardian(s) during the first five days;
  • the right of the parent(s)/guardian(s) to make representation to the Governing body and how the pupil may be involved in this;
  • the person the parent(s)/guardian(s) should contact if they wish to make such representation;
  • the arrangement made by the school to set and mark work for the pupil during the initial 5 days of the exclusion;
  • if relevant, the school day on which the pupil will be provided with full-time education; and
  • if relevant, details of a reintegration interview.

This is in addition to the school's obligation to contact the parent or guardian as soon as the decision to exclude has been made to ensure that the child can be supervised during their exclusion.

The head must inform the Governing Body if a pupil is being excluded for more than 15 days in any one term.  Pupils can excluded for one or more fixed periods, which when aggregated, do not exceed 45 school days in any one school year.

From the 6th consecutive day of the exclusion the school is compelled to provide provisions for full-time education. In some cases this applies from the first day of the exclusion, for example, in schools which received BIP (Behaviour Improvement Programme) funding.

Exclusions can be appealed if they are for a period of over 5 days.

Appealing an exclusion

Exclusion from state schools

The pupil’s parents or legal guardians can lodge an appeal against any fixed – term exclusion that extends over five days with the schools governing body. The parent or legal guardian has an additional right of appeal to the Independent Appeal Panel in the case of a permanent exclusion. If for some reason the parent or legal guardian fails to lodge an appeal or the appeal itself is not successful, then the pupil has the right to request a High Court judicial review. This must be done within three months of the announcement of the Independent Appeal panel’s judgement.  A piece of guidance from the Department of Education (then called the Department for Children, Schools and families) called “Improving behavior and attendance: guidance on exclusion from schools and Pupil Referral Units 2008” must be considered by all State schools and forms a general framework.

Exclusion from private schools

The key difference here is that Private school exclusions are dictated by the contract between the school and the pupil on the latter’s admittance. Generally the Private school will have its own mechanisms for the Appeal process in which the parent or legal guardian is permitted a set number of Appeals (usually one) to the exclusion decision made. The school must be careful to follow the rules it has laid down for itself or else it might be open to charges of a breach of contract if it is found not to have adhered to them.