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Expulsion, exclusion and suspension explained

Expulsion, exclusion and suspension explainedGet the essential facts about when you can be excluded, what happens, and what your rights are.

The difference between expulsion, exclusion and suspension

These words all mean very similar things, and they sometimes get mixed up, but the differences are simple:

  • Suspension is temporary: you're taken out of school for a set length of time.
  • Expulsion (being expelled) is permanent, and you'll have to go to a new school.
  • Exclusion is a general term covering both suspension and expulsion.

Most of the time, the word 'exclusion' will be used officially.

When you can be excluded

You can be excluded if:

  • You break the school's behaviour rules in a serious way, or keep breaking them repeatedly, and
  • Staying in school would be bad for your safety or education, or the safety or education of other students

On top of this, there are some extra rules you should understand:

  • You can only be excluded by the head teacher
  • You can't be excluded for not doing well enough at school - only for your behaviour
  • You can be excluded for something you did outside school if your head teacher thinks it's relevant
  • There doesn't have to be absolute proof of your behaviour - your head teacher can exclude you if they think it's more likely than not that you did it
  • It's illegal for your school to send you home as a punishment without going through the official process

What happens

During the first five days, your school has to set and mark work for you, and it's illegal for you to go out in public during normal school hours.

If your exclusion is longer than five days, your school has to arrange alternative full-time education from the sixth day onwards - for example, a temporary place at another school. If you're excluded permanently, the local authority has to find you a new school by the sixth day of your exclusion.

You can be excluded for up do 45 days in a single school year.

Challenging exclusions

If you are excluded, your parents have the right to challenge the decision. Exactly how this works depends on how long you have been excluded for.

  • If you're excluded for less than five days, you can't make a formal challenge unless you're going to miss an exam. Instead, your parents can ask the school's governing body to consider their views.
  • If you're excluded for more than five days, your parents can make a formal challenge which will be considered by an independent panel.
  • If you're excluded permanently, your parents can make a formal challenge. If the challenge doesn't work, they can also appeal the decision.

Your school has to explain this process when you are excluded, so you should be told exactly what your rights are and how to make a challenge.

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