Fixed Period Exclusion

Fixed Period Exclusion from school means that a pupil is not allowed in school for a set number of days for disciplinary reasons

Fixed period exclusion is one of the sanctions a school can give if a child does something that is against the school's behaviour policy (the school rules). Most fixed period exclusions are for short periods of 5 days or less but they can be for longer. An individual pupil may not be given more than 45 days fixed term exclusion in any one school year.

Understanding the decision to exclude

There are guidelines about what should be taken into account before deciding to exclude a child from school.

Who can exclude?

Only the headteacher has the power to exclude your child. Other members of staff such as heads of year cannot exclude, though they may provide information to inform the headteacher’s decision.

Reasons for exclusion

All exclusions must be for disciplinary reasons only. All schools must have a behaviour policy setting out what the school rules are and this must be published on the school website.

Standard of proof

The head’s decision to exclude must be taken on the ‘balance of probabilities’. That means that it is more likely than not that the pupil did what they are accused of. This is not the same as the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard required in a criminal case.

When exclusion is not allowed

It is unlawful to exclude or extend an exclusion for a non-disciplinary reason. For example:

  • if your child has special educational needs and the school say it can’t meet those needs. It should look at putting more or different support in place instead.
  • if your child is not doing well in school or is not as able as other children. A child cannot be excluded because they are not likely to get good exam results.
  • because of something you have done as a parent. That might be something like making a complaint or not going to a meeting at school.
  • not allowing a child back into school after a fixed period exclusion unless they meet particular conditions. Once the exclusion is ended your child must be allowed to go back. For example the head teacher can’t extend the exclusion because your child won’t admit they are guilty.

Behaviour outside school

Pupils can be excluded for behaviour outside school, this may include behaviour on school trips, on the way to and from school and behaviour which may bring the school into disrepute. Cyber-bullying which takes place out of school may also lead to an exclusion.

Having a say

Where practical, a head teacher should allow a pupil to present their case before deciding whether to exclude. If this hasn’t happened, find out your child’s version of what happened and send this into school yourself.

Unofficial exclusions

Sometimes schools may ask parents to keep their child at home without excluding them. This is often portrayed as doing the parent and child a favour by not making it official. This is not lawful, even if you agree to it. If the head teacher does not want your child in school for disciplinary reasons they must go through the formal exclusions process.

Children should not be asked to stay at home because the school can't provide for their special educational needs. If this happens, remind the school that this amounts to an unlawful unofficial exclusion. You may also wish to tell the exclusions officer in your local authority that this is happening.

Children with SEN or disabilities

Sometimes children with special educational needs can show poor behaviour because they are feeling frustrated in their learning. They may also have emotional difficulties or a disability which affects the way they behave. Before excluding a child with SEN, the school should look first at what additional support is needed or whether a different school would be more suitable. If your child has an Education Health Care (EHC) Plan then the school should consider bringing forward the annual review or holding an emergency interim review.

Other factors affecting the exclusion

Before deciding to exclude head teachers should take account of factors that may have affected the child’s behaviour such as bullying, mental health issues, bereavement or unidentified SEN.

Alternatives to exclusion and early intervention

Where children are at risk of exclusion, schools should look at early intervention to address the underlying causes of the poor behaviour. If a child shows persistent disruptive behaviour, heads should consider a multi-agency assessment. This may pick up unidentified special educational needs but also wider family issues affecting the child.

Vulnerable groups

Some groups are overrepresented in exclusion statistics. These include children with SEN, children eligible for free school meals, children from particular racial groups and looked after children. Head teachers should look at providing extra support to these groups to try to reduce the risk of exclusion.

Looked after children

Schools should work together with foster carers, children’s homes and the local authority that looks after the child to try to avoid exclusion. This might include putting in additional support or looking at whether a different school would be more suitable. If you are a foster carer you have the same rights in education law as other parents if the child you look after is excluded.

What happens during an exclusion

This section explains what the school must tell you if your child is excluded and what your responsibilities are during the exclusion

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