Behaviour in schools: sanctions and exclusions

Skip contents

School behaviour policy

Every school must publish a behaviour policy. It should be available on their website. If not, you can ask to see it. It explains:

  • the rules
  • what’s expected of pupils
  • what happens if they misbehave
  • what the school does to prevent bullying

It also covers misbehaviour outside of school. For example, misbehaviour when travelling to and from school.

You can ask the school for a copy of their behaviour policy document.


Schools can sanction (sometimes called punish) pupils if they misbehave.

Examples of sanctions include:

  • a verbal warning
  • a letter home
  • removal from a classroom
  • detention


Schools do not have to give notice to parents for after-school detention so long as the pupil can get home safely after. They should consider individual circumstances.

Mobile phones

Each school will have its own policy on mobile phones. Schools are allowed to stop pupils using their mobiles for all or part of the school day as part of their school rules.

Online behaviour

Schools may sanction pupils if their online behaviour is threatening or causes harm to another pupil. They may also sanction a pupil if their behaviour online impacts the school environment.

Use of reasonable force

School staff can use reasonable force if necessary to protect pupils or others from harm. They can also use it to stop pupils from causing damage or disruption.

Reasonable force includes physical restraint such as leading a pupil by the arm out of a classroom.

Complaining about a sanction

If you disagree with the way your child’s been sanctioned, first talk to the headteacher. If you’re not satisfied, ask for a copy of the complaints procedure.