?If your child has been excluded, it means they have been removed from school and are not allowed to return, either for a fixed number of days or permanently.
If a school permanently excludes a pupil, this means their name will be removed from the school register and they will not be allowed to return to that school at all.
All schools should try to prevent exclusion by identifying issues that might lead to exclusions. They should provide early support and look at all alternatives to excluding a child, especially if that child has ALN or is vulnerable. Schools should consider very carefully before deciding to exclude a pupil with additional learning needs. The Welsh Government guidance Exclusions from Schools and Pupil Referral Units (2019) on preventing and managing exclusion is clear:
‘That exclusion from school should only be used as a last resort’
There are only two reasons why a child can be excluded from school:
- in response to serious and/or persistent breaches of schools behaviour policy
- If allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in school
Schools must always give one of these as the reason for the exclusion. The Head Teacher should always tell you in writing how long your child will be excluded for.
A pupil should NOT be excluded for minor incidents such as:
- Poor academic performance
- Not wearing school uniform
- Not bringing in homework
Your child may be excluded for behaviour outside school if there is evidence that it effects the maintenance of good behaviour and discipline of the school as a whole. Learners’ behaviour outside school on school business is subject to the schools behaviour policy during:
- School trips,
- Away school sports fixtures
- Work experience placements
Behaviour outside school, but not on school business:
A headteacher may exclude a learner if there is a clear link between that behaviour and maintaining good behaviour and discipline among the learner body as a whole.
- Immediate vicinity of the school
- On a journey to or from school
- Only the Head or someone designated as acting Head has the authority to exclude a pupil on the grounds of behaviour.
Disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs. Where a school has concerns about a pupil’s behaviour, it should try to identify whether there are any causal factors and intervene early in order to reduce the need for a subsequent exclusion
Early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any ALN or disability that a pupil may have.
The Welsh Government have produced a booklet or children and young people called ‘Are you being excluded from school?‘ which may be helpful
If you have questions, or need more information, you can scroll down to read through our frequently asked questions, we’ve covered many different topics to make things clear for everyone.
Informal or Unofficial Exclusions
Sometimes schools use different reasons for removing a child from school. These are sometimes referred to as “informal exclusions” and may include:
- sending a child home early
- suggesting a “cooling-off period”
- saying the child cannot cope with a full day at school.
These are unlawful exclusions and should not be happening.
Fixed Term Exclusions
This means that your child has been excluded for a specific period and he or she will not be able to return to attend school during the time of the exclusion.
The length of fixed term exclusion can be between half a day to 45 days in an academic year. Fixed term exclusion must not exceed 45 days in one school year.
Fixed term exclusions should not be for an unspecified period.
A permanent exclusion is very serious and means your child is not allowed back in the school.
The school and local authority have to make sure the exclusion is fair.
The headteacher must tell you, the governing body and the local authority as soon as it happens. The school should take reasonable steps (do their best) to set your child work and mark it during the first 5 days of the exclusion.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve put together a number of Questions and Answers relating to School Exclusions:
My Child has ALN/SEN and is being excluded what can I do?
School governing bodies have a legal duty to do their best to ensure that the necessary provision is made for any learner who has SEN/ALN
Schools should make every effort to avoid excluding learners who are being supported:
- With an IDP
- Through School Action or School Action Plus or those with an SEN Statement including those who are being assessed for a statement.
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 says that schools should try every practicable means to maintain the learner in school, including asking the LA and other professional to provide additional advice and support.
Children with ALN or SEN may be excluded for reasons which arise from their needs not being properly met. If your child has been excluded, whether for a fixed term or permanently, you should consider what actions the school can take to try to get their needs met more effectively and avoid further exclusions in the future.
If you believe your child has additional learning needs but does not have an individual development plan (IDP) or a Statement you should ask the school for an IDP. (See IDP section)
If your child is already has an IDP ask for an urgent review of this support. If you are concerned they have not been receiving the support agreed, ask to see the plan and any records the school has about your child’s support. You should ask to meet with the school urgently to discuss whether there is anything else they can do to support your child’s ALN.
What happens to my child’s education whilst they are out of school?
The school should take reasonable steps to set your child work and mark it during the first five days of the exclusion.
Schools should have a strategy for reintegrating pupils that return to school following a fixed period exclusion, and for managing their future behaviour.
From the sixth day of the exclusion the school must provide suitable education. This is for each individual fixed term exclusion of over five days. If your child has been excluded for more than 5 days, they are entitled to alternative education.
My Child is Disabled and has been excluded?
The Equalities Act 2010 protects learners from discrimination based on protected characteristics. A child is disabled if they have a long-term physical or mental impairment which has an adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities (this is the definition in the Equality Act 2010).
The Law requires schools to make reasonable adjustments to avoid placing a disabled pupil at a substantial disadvantage compared with non-disabled peers. Schools must take positive steps to ensure that disabled pupils can fully participate in the education provided, and are able to have access to benefits, facilities and services provided for all pupils
The Law does not prevent schools from excluding children where it can be demonstrated that it is “proportionate” to do so, but a school may have discriminated against a disabled child if they were aware of the child’s disability, and the exclusion was because the child is disabled or because of something which happened because of their disability.
Claims alleging disability discrimination in respect of fixed-term exclusions can be heard by The Education Tribunal Wales.
If you feel your child has been treated unfairly because they are disabled contact our discrimination line for support
0300 222 5711
Schools will be required to demonstrate that their actions are justified and that no reasonable adjustments could have been made to prevent the incident which led to the exclusion.
‘What if I disagree with the exclusion?’
You might want to ask the school for:
- the school’s special educational needs/additional learning needs policy
- the school’s equal opportunities policy
- the schools behaviour policy
- your child’s school record
- any witness statements relating to the incident leading to the exclusion
You will need to send a letter to the school requesting these documents.
Parent’s/carer’s right to see and have a copy of the learner’s educational record upon written request to the school as outlined in regulation 5 of the Education (Pupil Information) (Wales) Regulations 2004
If you disagree with the school’s decision to exclude your child you have the right to state your case, in person, to the governors of the school. It is best to state your right to appeal in writing to the school.
All schools will have a discipline committee. A disciplinary committee is made up of three to five governors from the school brought together to hear a parent/carers representation and to consider the appropriateness of the exclusion. The committee will review a child’s exclusion if:
- They have been permanently excluded
- They have been excluded for more than 15 days
- The exclusion means they will miss an exam
You can ask them to review if your child is excluded for more than five days in one term
The committee must consider any written statements from you or your child. You could tell them about other strategies that could be tried for your child, as that they may need more or different support at school. If the discipline committee agrees that your child should be excluded, they must:
- give the reasons for their decision
- give the last day you can appeal against the decision
- explain how you can appeal.
Parent and Carers and/or learner to be accompanied by a friend or legal representative at their request. SNAP Cymru can help you here.
The PDC will review the exclusion imposed and cannot increase the severity of an exclusion, they can uphold an exclusion, or direct the learner’s reinstatement, either immediately or by a certain date.
If the discipline committee cannot direct reinstatement because the period of exclusion has expired and the learner has returned to school, they can place a copy of their findings on the learner’s school record.
The discipline committee should bear in mind that, in the case of a permanent exclusion, if an appeal is lodged against the committee’s decision the independent appeal panel will not just review the committee’s decision, it will rehear all the facts of the case including any fresh evidence
What is the Pupil Disciplinary Meeting?
Every school governing body must establish a discipline committee (Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005.)
The role of the committee includes reviewing the use of exclusion within the school. The committee has to be made up of three or five governors, drawn from members of the governing body and not including the headteacher. The governing body should aim to include a range of different types of governor
The committee must meet in the following circumstances:
- if a learner has fixed-term exclusions totalling more than five but not more than 15 school days in any one term and the parent/carer and/or learner requests a meeting.
- in the case of a permanent exclusion, or one or more fixed-term exclusions (including lunchtimes) totalling more than 15 school days in any one term, the PDC must meet between the sixth and fifteenth school day after the date of receipt to consider the exclusion
- in the case where a learner is to miss a public examination
- must invite the parent/carer and/or learner, headteacher and an LA officer to the meeting at a time and place convenient to all parties
- should ask for any written statements (including witness statements) in advance of the meeting
- should circulate to all parties, including the learner if it is known that they are to attend the meeting, within five school days of the meeting, any written statements (including witness statements) and a list of persons who will be present at the meeting
- must offer the opportunity for the views of the excluded learner to be considered at the meeting, irrespective of their age must offer the opportunity for the views of the excluded learner
- should allow the parent/carer and/or learner to be accompanied by a friend or legal representative at their request.
- Where learners of compulsory school age are not accompanied by their parents/carers the LA should endeavour to obtain the services of an advocate to speak on behalf of the learner. This is particularly important where learners may be considered not to have sufficient maturity or capacity to represent themselves effectively
What SNAP Cymru can do?
We can help you to collect all the important information you need about your child, the school and exclusion.
We can help you to write letters to the school.
We can help you to collect information about the incident and write your ideas and thoughts down about your child’s exclusion and possible reasons why it happened.
We may be able to attend meetings with you at school and help you and your child to state your case effectively.
Welsh Government Guidance on Exclusions (2019)
Welsh Government Guidance for meetings concerned with school exclusions (2020)