A guide for parents

This is to help you understand what happens if your child is excluded from school. It should be treated as general guidance. Contact your child's school or our exclusions officer for more detailed information.

Find out more about the statutory guidance on exclusions.

Types of exclusion

There are 3 types of exclusion from school: 

  • suspension for 15 school days or less, including lunchtime exclusions where 1 lunchtime is counted as half a day in exclusion terms
  • suspension for 16 to 45 school days 
  • permanent

Rights of representation for suspensions 

The school’s or academy’s governing board has a duty to consider any representation you may wish to make for exclusions of up to 15 school days per term, but they can't overturn any suspension of less than 6 school days and are not actually required to sit to consider a suspension of this length. Write to the clerk of the governing board at the school to ask for them to arrange this type of meeting. 

For suspensions longer than 15 days per term and permanent exclusions, the clerk must arrange a meeting to consider it whether you request one or not. You, the headteacher and normally the local authority Inclusion Lead will be informed of the time and date of this meeting. The governing board is able to uphold the exclusion or direct re-instatement. 

Education during suspension

Suspension from school does not mean exclusion from education. Emphasis is placed on the requirement for parents or carers, schools and governing boards to ensure that pupils are engaging in education during periods of suspension. For the first 5 school days of suspension, parents are legally required to ensure that their child is not present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification and may be given a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted if they fail to do so. Parents should make arrangements to ensure that adult supervision and an appropriate place to do school work is available. Schools and academies are required to supply work to be completed during this time. 

For suspensions longer than 5 school days the school is required to make arrangements for your child to receive appropriate full time provision, generally off site from the 6th school day. The duty to ensure this is in place rests with the school or academies governing board. If such arrangements are not detailed in the exclusion letter, it is advisable to contact the school during the first 5 days of the suspension to discuss what arrangements are being made.

The majority of suspensions are issued for 5 days or less. Maintained schools have the power to direct a pupil off-site for education to improve his or her behaviour. You will be involved in any discussions regarding changes to your child’s education. 

Education following a permanent exclusion

From the 6th day of permanent exclusion, the responsibility falls to the Local Authority to make appropriate arrangements to provide for your child. The Inclusion Lead or headteacher of your local Learning Centre will contact you directly regarding this. 

A permanent exclusion means that it is not anticipated that the child will return to that school or academy. During an exclusion of any length, it is extremely important that your child does not go onto the school or academy site at any time unless invited to, for example, to attend a Discipline Committee meeting. 

In Dorset, very few pupils are permanently excluded. If this does happen, careful consideration is made to ensure that the next educational provision is appropriate to meet your child’s needs. Normally, every effort is made to seek a place for your child in a nearby school. However, it may be that your child’s needs would be best met by an individual full-time programme at one of the Local Authority Learning Centres, also known as pupil referral units (PRUs). Such individualised provision will centre on a core of essential subjects but will also include other activities which reflect the pupil’s interests and aspirations. You will be fully involved in and informed of any decisions made.

Such arrangements set up for your child will be based on strategies to try to prevent similar problems re-occurring. Following a permanent exclusion, we will make every attempt to make an educational provision that will allow your child to succeed, rather than set up an unrealistic programme where he or she may fail. 

The role of the school or academy’s governing board 

Once a decision has been made to exclude, you should be notified immediately and should receive written confirmation without delay. Where parents or carers have requested it, the clerk will make arrangements for a Discipline Committee meeting to be held within 6 and 50 days for any exclusion lasting less than 16 school days, and within 6 to 15 days for any exclusion exceeding 15 school days. 

This meeting will consist of 3 members of the governing board (who must have had no previous involvement in your child’s discipline history); parents/carers and the Headteacher and, in most cases, our Inclusion Leads whose purpose in attending is to ensure that the guidance relating to the exclusion process is adhered to and to advise governors as to how similar situations have been dealt with in other schools. If you wish your child to attend you should inform the clerk prior to the meeting.

Most governors feel it is important for the pupil, particularly secondary aged pupils, to attend and have an opportunity to speak and answer questions. You may also bring someone to support you; again, the clerk should be informed prior to the meeting. You may wish to submit a written statement to the clerk who will ensure that it is circulated to all attending, along with any written statement or log of incidents that the headteacher chooses to circulate prior to the meeting.

At this meeting the headteacher will explain how he or she reached the decision to exclude. You will then have the opportunity to present your case. The governing board will then ask both parties questions and hear from our Inclusion Lead. They will then ask the headteacher, our Inclusion Lead and you to leave to meeting whilst they decide whether to uphold or overturn the exclusion.

It is important that you attend this meeting to voice any concerns or views you have regarding the exclusion.

Should you feel unable to attend, you may submit a written statement requesting that it be placed on your child’s file alongside the exclusion letter. You may do this for any length exclusion.

The governing board has the power to direct the headteacher to re-admit the pupil or to uphold the headteacher’s decision of exclusion. If they decide to reinstate your child, he or she will be readmitted to the school or academy immediately, unless a planned re-admission programme is set for him or her, although they cannot attach conditions.

There is no further appeal opportunity for fixed-term exclusions beyond this. If however you think the exclusion relates to a disability your child has and you think disability discrimination has occurred, you have the right to appeal, and/or make a claim to the SEN and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

Find out more about challenging a decision to exclude on the GOV.UK website.

Find more information and advice at Coram Children's Legal Centre.

The role of the Independent Review Panel in permanent exclusions 

If the governing board decide to uphold the headteacher’s decision to permanently exclude, you will be given the opportunity to request that an Independent Review Panel considers the exclusion. The panel will be convened by the Legal and Democratic Services Department of Dorset Council for maintained schools and by the Academy Trust for Academies. Alternatively if you disagree with the decision but do not wish for the IRP to sit, you may ask to submit a written statement and supporting paperwork to be placed on your child’s school file.

If you decide to request a review you should speak to our Inclusion Lead immediately as there are specific deadlines governing the process. A written submission (including a completed form) must be received within 15 days from the date of the Discipline Committee’s letter confirming the permanent exclusion. The Independent Review Panel is independent from the LA or Academy and is responsible for hearing the case in its entirety before reaching a decision. 

The role of the panel is to review the governing boards’ decision not to re-instate a permanently excluded pupil. The panel may uphold the exclusion decision; recommend that the governing board reconsiders their decision or quash the decision and direct that the governing board considers the exclusion again. 

Parents and carers have the right to request that an SEN expert attends the Independent Review Panel to provide impartial advice to the panel on how special educational needs might be relevant to the exclusion. 

Once all of these procedures have been completed and if the decision is upheld, your child’s name will be removed from the school’s or academy's roll and, for pupils of compulsory school age, responsibility falls to the LA to arrange appropriate education. 

We do understand that this can be an extremely stressful and worrying time for parents, carers and pupils. It is important that you keep in touch with the LA at all times.

Inclusion Lead for Chesil locality

Full contact details

Inclusion Lead for Dorchester locality

Full contact details

Inclusion Lead for East Dorset locality

Full contact details

Inclusion Lead for North Dorset locality

Full contact details

Inclusion Lead for Purbeck locality

Full contact details

Inclusion Lead for West Dorset locality

Full contact details

SEND information, advice and support service (SENDIASS)

Email: dorset.sendiass@family-action.org.uk
Tel: 01305595477
Full contact details