Behaviour in schools: sanctions and exclusions

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Headteachers can exclude your child if they misbehave in or outside school.

What happens when your child is excluded

Your child’s school will let you know about an exclusion as soon as possible. They’ll follow up with a letter telling you how long your child is excluded for and why.

You should also be told how to challenge the exclusion, if you want to.

Exclusions can start on the same day but the school should not make you collect your child straight away.

What you need to do

For the first 5 school days of an exclusion, it’s your responsibility to make sure your child is not in a public place during normal school hours unless there’s a good reason.

You might be prosecuted if your child is found in a public place when they’re not supposed to be.

Types of exclusion

There are 2 types of exclusion:

  • suspension (sometimes referred to as fixed-term or fixed-period exclusion)
  • permanent exclusion (sometimes called expulsion)


A suspension is when your child is removed temporarily from school. They can only be removed for up to 45 school days in one school year, even if they’ve changed schools.

If a child has been suspended for a fixed period, schools should set and mark work for the first 5 school days.

If the suspension is longer than 5 school days, the school must arrange suitable full-time education from the sixth school day, for example, at a pupil referral unit.

Permanent exclusion

Permanent exclusion means your child is no longer allowed to attend a school.  Your local council must arrange full-time education from the sixth school day.

Alternative education and exclusion

The school or local council must tell you about any alternative education they arrange. It’s your responsibility to make sure your child attends.

Making a complaint

If alternative education is not arranged within 5 days, or you’re not happy with the education, you can complain to:

If you’re not happy with the response, you can complain to the Department for Education (DfE).

You’ll need to show that you followed the school or council’s complaints procedure.

Children with special educational needs or a disability

Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) or a disability can be suspended or permanently excluded from school.

Schools are not allowed to suspend or permanently exclude a pupil because they have a disability or additional needs the school cannot meet.

Support and advice

The following organisations can provide free advice and support about exclusions: