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SEN Exclusions

Exclusion from school means that a child is not allowed in school for punishment (discipline) reasons. Head teachers can exclude your child if they misbehave inside or outside of the school.

Every school has a behaviour policy, which lists the rules of conduct for pupils before and after school as well as during the school day. You can ask the school for a copy of the policy document.

There are 2 kinds of exclusion:
Fixed term  (suspended) and Permanent (expelled)

Fixed Term Exclusion

This is where your child is temporarily removed from the school. It can be for half a day, 3 days, or 2 weeks or in worse cases longer than that. Under a Fixed Term Exclusion the school can only  remove a child  for up to 45 school days in a year (September to July) even if the child has changed schools. Lunch time exclusions are counted as a half day exclusion. A fixed term exclusion can be extended and be turned into a Permanent Exclusion.

Permanent Exclusion

This is where a school decides to remove the child from the school roll and the child is not allowed to attend the school. The decision should only be taken when all of the following reasons are present:

  • In response to a serious breach, or persistent breach of school’s behaviour policy

  • When a range of different options have been tried and have failed

  • Where allowing the child to remain in the school would seriously harm the education or safety of pupils or others in school

Illegal Exclusions

There are no other types of exclusion.  If a child or a young person is sent off to ‘cool off’,  or you are informed that you must keep your child at home because the nursery/school are unable to cope and are unable to meet the child’s special needs or cope with a disability,  this is unlawful. These type of ‘off the book’ exclusions are known as informal or illegal exclusions. Schools are not allowed to do this and it is unlawful.

We Can Help

Westminster IASS can offer information and support on all aspects of exclusions to parents, carers of children with SEN and young people with SEN.

We will work with you and schools to try to prevent exclusions.

If your child has special educational needs or disability and you are worried about your child being excluded or is at risk of exclusion  from school, please do give us a call.

We can support you by:

  • Listening to your concerns

  • Explain what might happen and the procedures involved

  • Help you prepare for school meetings relating to exclusion

  • Support you at school meetings

You can find more full information about your rights when your child is excluded and what to do of your child is excluded and how to appeal against a school’s decision from the information links below.


Landmark ruling in exclusions court case (14 August 2018)

A court has delivered a landmark verdict in a school exclusion case, which could help future generations of autistic children get the education they deserve. 

The ruling makes clear for the first time that all schools must make sure they have made appropriate adjustments for autistic children, or those with other disabilities, before they can resort to exclusion. 

The National Autistic Society intervened in this case, brought by the family of an autistic child, to challenge a loophole in the Equality Act that meant schools didn’t have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children when they have a ’tendency to physical abuse’ - even when that behaviour is down to a lack of appropriate support. We believed this loophole was letting autistic students down, leading to unfair exclusions and holding them back from getting the education that they need. 

In a ruling of the Upper Tribunal, the judge found that this “violates the [European Convention on Human Rights] right of children with a recognised condition that is more likely to result in a ‘tendency to physical abuse’ not to be discriminated against.” This means that children cannot be excluded for behaviour that is linked to their autism, if no steps had been taken to put the right support in place. Not only is this a great outcome for the individual child in this case, but for thousands of other autistic children and their families.

We believe that children should only ever be excluded as a last resort. We have been campaigning on this issue for years and are delighted that the courts agree with this position and that the law, as it stood, meant that autistic children were at risk of being excluded without reasonable adjustments being made.

This judgment is a powerful recognition of the rights of autistic children and many other disabled children. We believe the Government should respect the court’s decision and clarify this change in the law to schools across the country as soon as possible.

Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: “This is a landmark verdict which could transform the prospects of future generations of children on the autism spectrum, by helping them get the education they deserve. The Government should recognise this decision and act immediately to make sure that autistic children are no longer unfairly excluded from school.

"We intervened in this case to try to close a legal loophole, which saw far too many children excluded from school. Before this judgment, schools were able to exclude pupils who have a ‘tendency to physical abuse’, even if the school had made no adjustments to meet their needs.

“There are around 120,000 school aged children on the autism spectrum in England.  Being autistic means someone sees, hears and feels the world in a different, often more intense way than other people, which can make school an overwhelming place. Without the right support, things like having a quiet place to retreat to when it gets too much or adapting communication strategies to their needs, autistic children can become highly anxious. In some cases, children can become so overwhelmed that they can’t control their behaviour, which others can misinterpret as them being naughty or disruptive, when in fact they're extremely distressed.

“Exclusions should only happen as a last resort, when schools have tried every other practical solution. But the loophole meant that there was not enough incentive for schools to make necessary reasonable adjustments. And some schools resort far too quickly to exclusions. This contributes to children on the autism spectrum being three times more likely to be excluded than children without special educational needs. 
"Exclusions can have a devastating and life-long impact on an autistic child, holding back their learning and emotional development, as well as their long-term prospects. We hope the Government will respect the court’s well-considered judgement, make any further changes to the law if needed and give hope to thousands of autistic children and their families.”


Useful links:

The statutory  guidance on school exclusion that is currently being followed is the one published on 1st September 2012.

Click on this link to access the guidance:


Exclusions: What is legal? Click here to read the exclusions factsheet:

Mental Health Difficulties and Children at Risk of Exclusion from Schools in England

If you would like to receive telephone advice Communities Empowerment Network run a 24 hours hotline and will be able to provide you with support.