School exclusion

What is a school exclusion?

Schools (includes academies, free schools, special schools and pupil referral units) may exclude a pupil for breaches of their behaviour policy. An exclusion is for a given number of days known as suspension or ‘fixed-term’ or it might be permanent.

Statistics show that a disproportionate number of children with SEN are excluded. Head teachers should consider what extra support might be needed to identify and address the needs of a child in order to reduce their risk of exclusion.

As a parent what can I do?

You could ask school whether further assessment might be needed to identify your child’s needs, and what other options there might be to support them.

You could ask school if they have made a referral to the Education Access Team for schools advice and support.

You should be able to find a copy of the school’s SEN and behaviour policies on their website. There will also be a SEN information report available to view. If you can’t find these on the school website, request copies.

If you have any questions or concerns about an exclusion decision for your child, speak to the Head Teacher as soon as you are told about the exclusion. You can also contact the governing body if you have any concerns.

If you believe your child has been discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010 you can make a claim to the First Tier Tribunal for Disability Discrimination. If you take this route you must do so within six months of an incident (exclusion).

See also:

We can tell you what the law says and the responsibilities schools and the local authority have. You may also find it useful to read our section SEN Support or following the links below.

Useful links

Autism Education Trust: School exclusions guide for parents and carers (opens PDF)

You can contact the local authority directly with any questions or concerns relating to exclusions: 

Support to help your child attend school‘ (Suffolk County Council)

The statutory guidance for schools (including academies) is available on the Department for Education web pages:

A Guide for Parents on School Behaviour and Exclusion

Suspension and Permanent Exclusions guidance  

Behaviour and discipline guidance for governing bodies

‘Mental health and behaviour in schools’ guidance

There is also some really useful information for parents via Child Law Advice:

School exclusion information from Child Law Advice

‘Informal’ exclusion, such as asking a parent to pick up their child at lunchtimes or sending a child home early or to ‘cool off, are unlawful practices. The threat of exclusion should not be used to influence parents to remove their child from the school.  

Parents should not feel pressured into removing their child from school because of a threat of exclusion. If you believe your child has been unlawfully excluded from school, you could contact Suffolk County Council using the following email:

Related information

Equality and inclusion (how children with SEN are included in education, and adjustments for children with disabilities)

Supporting behaviour that challenges

Video from UCL explaining the different types of exclusion

See our you tube video about inclusion in education for pupils with SEND

Read an accessible script of the recording (opens PDF)