Being excluded from school even for a short time, a fixed term exclusion, can be very distressing for a child or young person and their parents or carer.
Being permanently excluded from a school can be especially distressing but there are laws, processes and services to ensure young people are being treated fairly.
Schools or education settings must follow certain processes if a child or young person is excluded. Some laws and procedures apply specifically to pupils and students who have or may have special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND). School exclusions must not be given to a child for behaviour related to or arising from having a disability. Both schools and parents should understand these laws.
- The Children's Commissioner with Corram Children's Legal Centre worked with young people to make a short film “Know the law - school exclusions” which you can watch here.
- The school exclusions project - A Young Person’s Guide to Permanent Exclusion
- Hackney Education's Guide on the exclusions process for parents (pdf) helps explain the law and who can offer support when.
- Hackney Education's Schools Guidance No Need to Exclude (pdf) is available here.
Read on to find more information and advice about school exclusions including the help and support available if a child is at risk of being excluded or has been excluded from school.
Page last updated: 16/06/21
11. It is unlawful to exclude or to increase the severity of an exclusion for a non-disciplinary reason. For example, it would be unlawful to exclude a pupil simply because they have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet, or for a reason such as: academic attainment / ability; the action of a pupil’s parents; or the failure of a pupil to meet specific conditions before they are reinstated.
Pupils who repeatedly disobey their teachers’ academic instructions could, however, be subject to exclusion.
13. ‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers.
Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be formally recorded
18. Early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any SEN or disability that a pupil may have.
Head teachers should also consider the use of a multi-agency assessment for pupils who demonstrate persistent disruptive behaviour. Such assessments may pick up unidentified special educational needs but the scope of the assessment could go further, for example, by seeking to identify mental health or family problems.
19. Where a pupil has received multiple exclusions or is approaching the legal limit of 45 school days of fixed period exclusion in an academic year, head teachers should consider whether exclusion is providing an effective sanction."
Specialist SEND Services for schools and education settings
Schools and other settings can access a range of specilaist advice, training and support. from education, health and care services. Development training and support is also available for individuals and school staff including bespoke packages for specific children and whole school or systems support.
Most services offer some free access to help schools and parents or carers support children with SEND.
School Exclusions Officers monitor pupils during fixed term or permanent exclusions making sure pupils receive their statutory entitlements to education. They also monitor the progress and engagement of pupils who have been permanently excluded until they can return to a mainstream setting and can facilitate the 'managed move' process for pupils in secondary school (by direct request only).
They can can provide settings, practitioners, school governors, parents and young people with specific advice and guidance and offer legal training to settings on the exclusion process.
Phone: 020 8820 7287 (Administrator)
Phone: 0202 8820 7054 (Primary school exclusions officer)
Phone: 020 8820 7569 (Secondary school exclusions officer)
Re-engagement Unit (REU)
The Re-engagement Unit is a service that helps and advises schools. The aim of the service is to provide support for children whose behavior means that they are having difficultly engaging with learning, resulting in them being at risk of exclusion.
The REU is made up of a team of multi-skilled education professionals who work to create positive change for the child. They do this work with:
- the child
- learning mentors
- family support workers
- youth workers
- other involved education professionals
The REU is also supported by a clinician from CAMHS (the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). Find out more about the work of the Re-engagement Unit including who to contact about referrals.
A restorative approach is a way of working with conflict that puts the focus on repairing the harm that has been done. A restorative approach can be used where there is conflict. Evidence shows it is very helpful in resolving issues in schools. It includes all the people who have been involved and asks:
- what their involvement was
- how the incident of conflict has affected them
- agrees what needs to be done for things to be put right
- aims for a win-win or mutually beneficial outcome
Contact Chris Roberts
Phone: 020 8820 7325
Hackney has a FREE impartial SEND Information Advice and Support service for parents, carers and young people themselves. Regular drop in sessions are available and experienced practitioners within the service are all qualified to offer SEND specialist enhanced advice and support.
Phone: 020 7275 6036 (Advice Line)
Phone: 07500 066 513 (Service Coordinator)
Hackney's Parent-Carer Forum (HIP)
Hackney Independent Parent-carer forum (HiP) is a not-for-profit group run by parents and carers for families with disabled children or young people aged 0-25 with SEN (special educational needs) additional needs or disability.
HIP aim to improve and create better outcomes for children and young people with SEND through engagement with parent-carers and formal and strategic representation of their views and experiences.
HIP has 600 plus members who are also parents and carers with a wealth of lived experience of local services and process.
Coram Children's Legal Centre (Child Law Advice)
Child Law Advice is operated by Coram Children's Legal Centre.
They provide specialist advice and information on child, family and education law.
The Child Law Advice Service provides legal advice and information on family, child and education law affecting children and families. Their service is provided through information shared on their website including topic specific how to guides and information pages.
A telephone line is available but funding to run this means this is limited offer.
A call back service is available at a small cost.
The School Exclusions Project
This project provides free advocacy to help parents appeal against their child’s permanent exclusion in England. We specialise in disability discrimination and cases where the child has special educational needs.
Just for Kids Law
Education Law - Just for Law KIDS help young people challenge exclusions from school and ensure young people receive support for their special educational needs.
This could include:
- Providing advice and representation in relation to Education, Health and Care Plans and appeals.
- Representation at Governors body hearings and independent review panels to families in some areas.
IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice )
Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (known as IPSEA) are a national charity that provides independent free legal advice and support for parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).
On IPSEA's website you can book a FREE advice session with a specialist advisor and find training webinars and resources that will help you understand how to help your child and communicate with their school or college.
National Autistic Society (NAS)
- information and advice to parents
- when a child or young person on the autism spectrum is excluded from school
- is at risk of exclusion
- to support professionals in early intervention strategies and good practice to avoid the need for exclusions
A school exclusion helpline/case work service offers advice and information to families on all aspects of exclusion from school (and further education in England).
This includes advice on informal (unlawful) exclusion; fixed-period and permanent exclusion; how to challenge your child’s exclusion and what you can do if you are concerned that your child is at risk of exclusion.
Communities Empowerment Network (CEN)
CEN has a group of staff and volunteer advocates who are on hand to provide advice and support if your child is experiencing problems at school, particularly with fixed term or permanent exclusion.
CEN can help by:
- providing free advice, training, support and representation for all people affected by school exclusion
- providing education advocates who mediate between schools and young people who are at risk of exclusion.
If you need help urgently please sign up to CENs Parent Portal.