Why might a child be excluded from school?

Pupils can only be excluded from school for disciplinary reasons. Schools must have a behaviour policy setting out what the school rules are, so that you and the child are aware of the school's expectations about discipline. Reasons for exclusion can include behaviour outside school, such as school trips or on the way to and from school, provided it is in line with the behaviour policy.


It is unlawful to exclude for reasons other than discipline, so for example a child should not be excluded because:

  • their special educational needs are not being met,
  • they are not achieving as well as expected academically,
  • of something you did or did not do, or
  • the school said something specific had to happen before they could return to school at the end of a fixed term exclusion. For example, the headteacher can't extend the exclusion because the child hasn't admitted guilt. Once a fixed term exclusion ends the child must be allowed to go back.

The grounds for permanently excluding a child vary from school to school. Permanent exclusions should only occur where:

  • the child has seriously or persistently breached the school's behaviour policy and
  • allowing the child to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.

It is up to each school to define what counts as a serious offence but the most likely reasons for a permanent exclusion are:

  • that the child has a history of disruptive behaviour and the school feels that all other options have been exhausted; or
  • even though the child has never been in trouble before, that they have committed a serious one-off offence. This could be something like assaulting another child or member of staff or bringing a knife or drugs into school.

Further information

What happens if a child is excluded from school
ACE Education School exclusion
Coram Children's Legal Centre School exclusions
Statutory guidance for maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units on the exclusion of pupils

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