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The risks of permanent exclusion are far-reaching, as removing a student from the school-setting can have huge ramifications on the school.

But sometimes, the risk to the school and other pupils can far outweigh those risks.

But what is the process of permanent exclusion and what can be done to reduce the risks? This blog post explains.

What is permanent exclusion?

Permanent exclusion is the most serious sanction a school can give to a child who breaches the school’s behaviour policy.

It means that the child is no longer allowed to attend the school and their name will be removed from the school roll. 

Permanent exclusion should, however, only be used as a last resort.

Why may a student be at risk of permanent exclusion?

In order to exclude a child, a range of guidelines need to be met.

Only the headteacher has the power to exclude. Other teachers do not carry this responsible, though they may hold information which supports the decision.

All exclusions must be for disciplinary reasons only. All schools are required to have a behaviour policy in order to explain the school rules. Permanent exclusion should happen if:

  • There is a serious one-off breach or persistent breaches of the school’s behavior policy and
  • (If) allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfar of the pupil or others in the school

There are two likely scenarios for permanent exclusion:

  • A child has a history of persistent disruptive behaviour and the school feel they cannot do anymore
  • A child has committed a single serious one-off offence, even if they have never been in trouble before. Examples include assaulting a pupil or member of staff or bringing in a knife or drugs to school

It is at the school’s discretion what counts as a serious offence.

 When can a student be permanently excluded?

A headteacher’s decision to exclude a pupil on the ‘balance of probabilities’. This means it is more likely than not that the pupil did what they are accused of – this is different to ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ used in criminal cases.

It is unlawful to exclude for non-disciplinary reasons such as:

  • If your child special educational needs and the school says that it cannot meet those needs
  • A child cannot be excluded because they are not likely to get good exam results
  • Because of a parent – for example of the parent complains or fails to turn up for a meeting, the pupil cannot be excluded
  • Not allowing a child back into school after a fixed period exclusion unless they meet particular conditions. Once the exclusion has ended the child must be allowed to go back

 Pupils can be excluded for behaviour outside school (for example school trips, commuting to and from school, and other behaviour which may bring the school into disrepute.

Cyber-bullying which takes place out of school may also lead to an exclusion.

Where practical, a headteacher should allow the pupil to present their case before deciding whether to exclude. Alternatively, the child’s parent could write/email this to the school.

What are unofficial exclusions? 

According to Ace Education:

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 headteacher does not want your child in school for disciplinary reasons they must go through the formal exclusions process.

Unofficial exclusions can easily lead to a child missing considerable amounts of education or even dropping out of the system altogether. It also means that you lose your rights to make representations to the governors or to attend a meeting.

Children should not be asked to stay at home because the school can’t provide for their special educational needs or to get them out of the way during an inspection.  If this happens, parents should remind the school that this amounts to unlawful unofficial exclusion. 

Ace Education

Factors affecting the exclusion

Headteachers should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding children with EHC plans.

Sometimes children with special educational needs can show poor behaviour because they feel frustrated in their learning. Before excluding a child with SEN, the school should first look at whether additional support is needed or whether a different school may be more suitable.

Headteachers should also take into account factors that may have affected the child’s behaviour:

  • Bullying
  • Mental health issues
  • Bereavement
  • Unidentified SEN

Risks of permanent exclusion: what are the alternatives?

Schools should look at early intervention to address the underlying causes of 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 potential family issues which may affect the child.

Find out more here.

How can EDClass help to reduce the risks of permanent exclusion?

At EDClass we aim to help your school to reduce the numbers of days exclusions and increase the school’s attendance.

EDClass was initially designed to prevent 34 students from being excluded from one school over a term in our pilot year in 2008. It is now a powerful resource for your pupils to continue learning when working in an inclusion unit or have been excluded.

Our system gives every child the chance to success through the study of course subjects, allowing pupils to learn, progress and attain in an environment suited to their needs.

Personalised learning pathways for pupils to complete means knowledge and understanding can be developed while removing barriers to learning.

The tracking mechanism within EDClass means you can monitor pupil’s progress and data can be presented in the form of printable reports. Find out more about tracking here.

For more information call 01909 568338 or email