Exclusions and discipline

What is an exclusion?

Exclusion is a form of punishment that the school can use for bad behaviour.  There are two types of exclusion:

Fixed-Term – If you receive a fixed-term exclusion, also known as being suspended, you will be sent home for a certain number of days. The school has the right to suspend you for up to 45 school days in a single academic year, and this can be made up of a variety of short exclusions, for example 5 days each.

Permanent – If you receive a permanent exclusion, also known as being expelled, you will no longer be allowed to go to your school and your name will be removed from the school register. You will not be allowed back on to the school grounds unless invited. Sometimes, suspensions or fixed term exclusions can turn into permanent exclusions.

When can a school exclude you?

A school can only exclude you if:

  • you have seriously breached the school behaviour policy
  • you have breached the school behaviour policy a number of times


  • allowing you to stay at school would seriously harm your education or welfare OR
  • allowing you to stay at school would seriously harm the education or welfare of other pupils.

You can be punished for behaviour which happens outside of school.

It is against the law for a school to exclude you or increase the length of an exclusion for the following reasons:

  • your school grades or ability
  • the action of your parents
  • because you have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet.

Before giving an exclusion, your Headteacher should make sure that a full investigation has been carried out; you should have a chance to give your version of events and the Headteacher should take into account any factors which came to light after an incident of poor behaviour. For example, if you have lost someone close to you, have mental health issues or have been bullied.

If the Headteacher does decide to exclude you, he or she must tell your parents or carers. A letter should be sent which contains the reasons for you being excluded and the length of the exclusion.

How else can a school discipline?

The school should try other ways of addressing bad behaviour before excluding you from school. For example, a school can give you a detention, place you in isolation or set a written task. All punishments should be fair, applied to everyone in the same way and in proportion to your behaviour.

There is no right of appeal to a detention or isolation but either you or your parents can submit a complaint to the school if you feel that it was excessive or unfair. For more information see Complaints to schools.

Can I appeal an exclusion?

Your parents can appeal against the Headteacher’s decision to exclude you. The governing body must consider accepting you back in school within 15 school days of receiving notice of the exclusion if:

  • The exclusion is permanent
  • You have been excluded for more than 15 school days in one school term
  • The exclusion would mean you miss a public examination or national curriculum test.

What about my school work?

For the first five days of an exclusion (fixed-term or permanent), the school must try to provide you with education (for example work should be sent home for you to complete). If you are excluded for a fixed term over 5 school days, your school must provide you with education from the sixth school day.

If you are permanently excluded from the sixth day of exclusion your Local Education Authority must provide suitable education for you. For more information see our page What if I can’t go to school?