Headteacher’s Guide to Exclusion

We understand that taking the decision to permanently exclude a pupil at your school is not one that you will be taking lightly. We wanted to put together a short guide to help you through this process. Set out below are the ‘Golden Rules’ for permanent exclusion, to assist you to be sure that you have carried out a fair, proportionate and lawful exclusion.

You can use the rules as a checklist, to demonstrate to a Governing Body that you have carried out everything that is required of you. It is important you can be sure you haven’t missed anything during your decision-making process.

As you know, the decision to exclude a child permanently should usually be the final step in a process for dealing with disciplinary offences. Exclusion is therefore an acknowledgement by you that your school has exhausted all available strategies for dealing with the pupil. It should therefore be used as a last resort.

Golden Rules of Permanent Exclusion for Head teachers:

  1. Permanent exclusions should only take place in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school’s behaviour policy and where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school.
  2. All exclusions must follow the correct procedure as set out in the Department for Education’s Statutory Exclusion Guidance – check that you are using the current (2012) guidance and not the old (2008) or withdrawn (2015) guidance.  Decisions made with the wrong guidance are particularly vulnerable to review.
  3. All exclusions must be officially recorded as exclusions.
  4. All exclusions must be for disciplinary reasons only.
  5. All schools must have a behavioural policy for pupils to follow.
  6. Head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding looked after children.
  7. Head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding children with statements of/ EHC plans for special educational needs.
  8. Pupils cannot be excluded for poor academic attainment or for reasons relating to actions of their parents.
  9. The head teacher’s decision to exclude must be taken on the ‘balance of probabilities’. That means that it is more likely than not that the pupil did what they are accused of.
  10. Head teachers must not send a pupil home to ‘cool off’ even if parents or carers agree; this would amount to an unofficial and therefore unlawful exclusion.
  11. Head teachers must give a pupil the opportunity to share their views.
  12. If a child with SEN is showing poor behaviour or is at risk of exclusion, the head teacher must look first at what additional support could reasonably be put in place.
  13. Head teachers must demonstrate to the Governors that their school is already using a range of strategies to support this pupil.
  14. Head teachers must find out if there is anything that hasn’t already been mentioned at school by other members of the school community that will help them come to the right decision.
  15. Head teachers should look at providing extra support to groups who are known to be at a greater risk of exclusion.


Key Questions to ask the “At Risk” Pupil

  • Is there anything currently happening at school that might in some way explain your behaviour?
  • Has anything happened at school in the past that I need to take into consideration?
  • Is there anything currently happening at home or outside school that might in some way explain your behaviour?
  • Has anything happened at home or outside school in the past that I need to take into consideration?

You ought to take account of any factors which may have contributed to the poor behaviour.

These might be:

  • bullying
  • mental health issues
  • bereavement
  • unidentified SEN
  • domestic violence
  • friendship problems

Tips for writing to parents/carers about your decision to permanently exclude:

    1. The reason for the exclusion should be given in plain English.
    2. The account of the facts leading to the exclusion should be clear and factual, avoiding subjective or judgemental language.
    3. Specify the latest date by which the governing body can meet – the 15th school day after the date on which the governing body was notified of the exclusion.
    4. Let the parent know that they can attend this governing body meeting to make representations.
    5. Make sure parents know they have the right to see a copy of their child’s school record
    6. Ensure the parents know who they can contact for advice/ support / representation.