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Exclusion from School

Children with special educational needs (“SEN”) and/or disabilities are much more likely to be excluded from school than their classmates.

Only the head teacher of a school (or the teacher in charge of a pupil referral unit or the principal of an academy) can exclude a pupil. There are only two types of exclusion from a school which are lawful: permanent and fixed-period.

This means that legally a pupil is either in school full-time or they are excluded from school. They can be excluded for a fixed term (for a specific number of school days) or permanently excluded. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for a short period of time, must be formally and accurately recorded.

Pupils can only be excluded for disciplinary reasons: they cannot be excluded because a school, pupil referral unit (PRU) or academy cannot meet their needs or for something which their parents did or did not do.

‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending a pupil home to cool off or the school putting a pupil on a ‘part-time timetable’, are all unlawful regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. See what steps the school has to take in order for the exclusion to be lawful. Too many children and young people with SEN and disabilities are excluded illegally.

Unlawful exclusion of a pupil with a disability may amount to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Most of the content in this section relates only to pupils at maintained schools, academies or pupil referral units. If your child attends a different type of setting, see the final section below:

Please click on each heading for further information;

What steps does the school have to take?

What should I do if my child is excluded?

Advice on writing “written representations” to the Governors

Informal Exclusions

Disability Discrimination and exclusions

Exclusions of children/young people with SEND from an Independent setting or Further Education


For further information download the IPSEA Exclusion Factsheet