Exclusion guidance

Information and advice on preventing exclusion and the procedures surrounding exclusion

On this page you will find information about preventing exclusion and advice should you be considering making a fixed-period or permanent exclusion.

For a general exclusion-related enquiry, or if you are considering taking a decision to exclude a pupil, please contact the Exclusion and Reintegration Officers for advice on any aspect of exclusion.

What is an exclusion?

‘Good discipline in schools is essential to ensure that all pupils can benefit from the opportunities provided by education. The Government supports head teachers in using exclusion as a sanction where it is warranted. However, permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort, 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.’

(DfE 2017, Section 2, Key Points)

The DfE Guidance is clear that exclusion is a sanction, a punishment for actions that seriously or persistently breach the school’s behaviour policy.  Exclusion, particularly permanent exclusion, should only be considered as a last resort.  A head teacher taking a decision to exclude a pupil must be satisfied that there has been a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy AND the pupil remaining in school will seriously harm their own or others' education or welfare. 

Exclusion is never in the best interests of the pupil, nor does it give a pupil access to specialist provision that would otherwise not have been available.  Pupils with special educational needs, including those with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, experience disproportionately high rates of exclusion.  The DfE Exclusion Guidance expects schools to take additional action to reduce the risk of exclusion of pupils with SEN in addition to the reasonable adjustments schools must make under the Disability Discrimination Act 2002.  The Guidance is clear that it is unlawful to exclude for a non-disciplinary reason.  For example, it would be unlawful to exclude a pupil simply because they have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet. 

Looked After Children are particularly vulnerable to exclusion.  We are proud to say we have no permanent exclusions for Looked After Children in Oxfordshire.  The Virtual School for Looked After Children works in partnerships with schools to maintain this.  If you are concerned that a Looked After pupil is at risk of exclusion, please contact the Virtual School  immediately.   

Early and thorough assessment of need is essential to inclusion.  Identifying the needs of pupils at the earliest opportunity, planning intervention and support with partners, implementing and reviewing those plans under the SEN code of practice, all reduces the risk of exclusion.

Please see the headings below for detailed information on all aspects of exclusion

Key considerations for a head teacher before making an exclusion decision

There is an expectation that schools will have employed a range of measures to prevent or reduce the likelihood of exclusion:

Disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs. Where a school has concerns about a pupil’s behaviour, it should try to identify whether there are any causal factors and intervene early in order to reduce the need for a subsequent exclusion. In this situation, schools should consider whether a multi-agency assessment that goes beyond the pupil’s educational needs is required.

(DfE Guidance, September 2017 Section 2, Paragraph 5)

Early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any SEN or disability that a pupil may have. The head teacher should also consider the use of a multi-agency assessment for a pupil who demonstrates persistent disruptive behaviour. Such assessments may pick up unidentified SEN but the scope of the assessment could go further, for example, by seeking to identify mental health or family problems.

(DfE Guidance, September 2017 Section 3, Paragraph 19)

Comprehensive information is available from the Department for Education about measures that schools can take to manage behaviour.

Key factors for a head teacher to consider:

  • Safeguarding duty of care

Is it safe for the pupil to be excluded and sent home?  Are there concerns about the pupil being at risk of exploitation in the community?  Is there a safer alternative to exclusion?  Where the pupil is open to Early Help or Social Care, has the keyworker (or representative of the team) been consulted first?  Is there a trusted adult available to collect the pupil? 

  • Lawful, Reasonable, Rational, Fair

Are the grounds for exclusion lawful in line with the DfE Exclusion Guidance?  Is the decision to exclude being taken by the head teacher?  Is the decision to exclude proportionate to the incident(s)?  Have all alternatives to exclusion been thoroughly considered?  Is time being taken to consider these factors and has a thorough investigation of the incident(s) taken place?  Has the pupil's account been sought along with any other involved parties?  Have any discrepancies in the accounts of those involved been explored and a conclusion on the balance of probabilities been reached?  Is the exclusion decision based on unmet special educational needs, needs the school feels it has been or will be unable to meet?  Is the exclusion the result of parental conduct or a difficult home-school relationship?  

  • Factors increasing a pupil's risk of exclusion

Is the pupil a Looked After Child?  Does the pupil have SEND?  Does the pupil have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)? Are you aware of any characteristics that increase the pupil's risk of exclusion and considered what intervention and support has been implemented to address the increased risk?  What assessment of need has been undertaken to consider the underlying cause of the challenging behaviour?

  • Mitigating factors

Are you aware of any circumstances that may have acutely increased the pupil's risk of exclusion?  Have any reports of bullying been investigated and followed up?  Has the pupil experienced a bereavement, family difficulty or mental health difficulty that may have impacted upon their behaviour?   

Safeguarding

The head teacher must take account of their legal duty of care when sending a pupil home following an exclusion.

(Paragraph 7, DfE 2017)

There is comprehensive information about safeguarding on the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children's Board (OSCB) webpages for professionals. 

Where a pupil receives support from an early help worker, is a child in need or subject to child protection planning, the school must inform the relevant professionals within social care if they feel the child is at risk of exclusion and in advance of any decision to exclude.

If you are concerned about the risk of exclusion of a looked after child, please contact the pupil’s social worker and the virtual school for looked after children

For pupils where there is concern around sexual, drug or gang exploitation, for those who self-harm or demonstrate behaviours that could cause them significant harm, an exclusion can result in increased risks to the pupil’s immediate safety, health and wellbeing.         

Proactive planning with professional partners and family/carers about what to do in the event of a serious breach of school behaviour policy where the conditions for exclusion are met is the ideal, but in an unforeseen situation, contact the relevant involved professionals at the earliest opportunity and before sending a pupil home. 

Unlawful Exclusion

Unlawful Exclusions can be made on a simple misunderstanding of the DfE Guidance.  Most commonly regarding pupils’ conduct at reintegration meetings following a fixed-period exclusion, or in relation to SEND, often where it is thought to be a decision in the best interests of the pupil.

The guidance states:

Any decision of a school, including exclusion, must be made in line with the principles of administrative law, i.e. that it is: lawful (with respect to the legislation relating directly to exclusions and a school’s wider legal duties, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act 2010); rational; reasonable; fair; and proportionate.

(Paragraph 6, DfE 2017)

It is unlawful to exclude for a non-disciplinary reason. For example, it would be unlawful to exclude a pupil simply because they have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet, or for a reason such as: academic attainment/ability; the action of a pupil’s parents; or the failure of a pupil to meet specific conditions before they are reinstated, such as to attend a reintegration meeting. However, a pupil who repeatedly disobeys their teachers’ academic instructions could, be subject to exclusion.

(DfE 2017, Paragraph 13)

‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending a pupil home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be formally recorded.

(DfE 2017, Paragraph 14)

Schools should have a strategy for reintegrating a pupil who returns to school following a fixed-period exclusion and for managing their future behaviour.

(DfE 2017, Key Points)

Common scenarios for unlawful permanent exclusion:

  • Someone other than the head teacher made the decision to exclude
  • The decision to exclude is not made on disciplinary grounds, rather because the pupil has needs the school feels unable to meet
  • The pupil is excluded for not agreeing to aspects of a proposed support plan, manged move or alternative education plan
  • The pupil is not attending school

Common scenarios for pupils with SEND:

  • “If we exclude them, they’ll get the provision they really need. We can’t meet their needs in a mainstream school”
  • “They won’t manage the school trip/play/activity day so we’ve asked parents not to send them in”
  • “We’ve asked parents not to send them in after lunch as they aren’t coping”
  • “The pupil couldn’t manage today so we sent them home to try again tomorrow”
  • Excluding a pupil from their education for reasons relating to disability or special educational need could be open to challenge as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 
  • Schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments (Equality and Human Rights Commission 2012)
  • Schools must ensure that their policies and practices do not discriminate against pupils by unfairly increasing their risk of exclusion (DfE Exclusion Guidance 2017)

There is a duty on schools to make reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 2002 and Equality and Human Rights Commission 2012.  This requires a school to take positive steps to ensure that disabled pupils can fully participate in the education provided by the school, and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services which the school provides for pupils.  Many reasonable adjustments are inexpensive and will often involve a change in practice rather than the provision of expensive pieces of equipment or additional staff.   

Thorough assessment, planning and evidence of review under the SEND code of practice ‘assess, plan, do, review’ with relevant external partners, the pupil and the family, should identify how best to meet a pupil’s needs and support social and educational progress. 

Common scenarios following fixed-period exclusion:

  • “They failed their reintegration meeting”
  • “We can’t arrange a reintegration meeting until Monday”
  • “We couldn’t reintegrate the pupil as the parent wasn’t available for a reintegration meeting”
  • Reintegration meetings are not statutory or compulsory they are good practice
  • Reintegration meetings at their best welcome the pupil back, identify any support required to foster success and set a positive tone. 
  • Reintegration meetings must be appropriate to age and development, and sensitive to individual needs
  • Restorative approaches can be a great foundation for reintegration meetings

A fixed-period exclusion is just that – for a fixed period.  Once the exclusion ends, the pupil attends school again as usual.  Reintegration meetings can be good practice where used appropriately.  They are not an obstacle or test for the pupil’s return. 

We recommend using a clear welcome phrase at the outset of a reintegration meeting such as “we’re glad to welcome you back to school, your exclusion has ended, we’re going to look at how we can support you to be successful in school moving forward”. 

Some schools use a reintegration contract with a pupil following a fixed-period exclusion.  A word of caution, one cannot place conditions on a reintegration such as a pupil agreeing to therapy sessions or to engage with a programme.  It would be good practice to outline a plan of support or intervention that will be offered to the pupil to reduce the future risk of exclusion.        

If a pupil’s conduct during a reintegration meeting or on return to school is such that an exclusion is considered by the head teacher, that is a separate matter to the initial fixed-period exclusion.  It may be that he behaviour in the meeting leads to a further fixed-period exclusion.

Reasonable, rational, fair decisions

The guidance states:

Any decision of a school, including exclusion, must be made in line with the principles of administrative law, i.e. that it is: lawful (with respect to the legislation relating directly to exclusions and a school’s wider legal duties, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act 2010); rational; reasonable; fair; and proportionate.

(Paragraph 6, DfE 2017)

Factors increasing a pupil’s risk of exclusion that require extra support (including Looked After Children, pupils with SEND, pupils with EHCPs)

Assessment

It is expected that schools take steps to identify pupils from groups with disproportionately high rates of exclusion e.g. pupils with SEN, pupils receiving free school meals, Travellers (Gypsy/Roma/Irish Heritage) and pupils from Black Caribbean communities.  In addition to early intervention, head teachers should consider what extra support may be needed to identify specific needs of these pupils to reduce their risk of exclusion.

The exclusion rates for certain groups of pupils are consistently higher than average. This includes: pupils with SEN; pupils eligible for free school meals; looked after children; and pupils from certain ethnic groups. The ethnic groups with the highest rates of exclusion are: Gypsy/Roma; Travellers of Irish Heritage; and Caribbean pupils.

(DfE 2017, Paragraph 21)

In addition to the approaches on early intervention set out above, the head teacher should consider what extra support might be needed to identify and address the needs of pupils from these groups in order to reduce their risk of exclusion. For example, schools might draw on the support of Traveller Education Services, or other professionals, to help build trust when engaging with families from Traveller communities.

(DfE 2017, Paragraph 22)

The head teacher should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding any pupil with an EHC plan or a looked after child.     

(DfE 2017, Paragraph 23)

Where a school has concerns about the behaviour, or risk of exclusion, of a child with additional needs, a pupil with an EHC plan or a looked after child, it should, in partnership with others (including the local authority as necessary), consider what additional support or alternative placement may be required. This should involve assessing the suitability of provision for a pupil’s SEN. Where a pupil has an EHC plan, schools should consider requesting an early annual review or interim/emergency review.

(DfE Guidance, September 2017 Section 3, paras. 24-5)

Schools should engage proactively with parents in supporting the behaviour of pupils with additional needs. In relation to looked after children, schools should co-operate proactively with foster carers or children’s home workers, the local authority that looks after the child and the local authority’s virtual school head.

Pupils with EHCP/SEN Statement

Schools should engage proactively with parents in supporting the behaviour of pupils with additional needs.  Concerns about the behaviour, learning or wellbeing of pupils with an EHCP/SEN Statement, including the suitability of the setting, should be raised with the relevant SEN Officer as they arise and during scheduled reviews so any changes can be made in a planned way.

If concerns arise suddenly, escalate quickly or a serious incident occurs which leads you to consider exclusion, you should first seek an early or emergency annual review to consider what additional support or alternative placement may be required.  Contact the relevant SEN Officer for the pupil to request an emergency annual review and make clear the concerns you have about the pupil being at risk of permanent exclusion.

Looked After Pupils

Schools should co-operate proactively with foster carers or children’s home workers, the local authority that looks after the child and the local authority’s virtual school head. Concern about the behaviour, learning or wellbeing of pupils who are Looked After should be raised with the pupil’s carers, Social Worker and the Virtual School for Looked After Children (VSLAC) as they arise and during scheduled LAC Reviews and Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings.

If concerns arise suddenly, escalate quickly or a serious incident occurs which leads you to consider exclusion, you should first seek an urgent review by contacting the pupil’s Social Worker and the Virtual School for Looked After Children (VSLAC) to consider what additional support or alternative placement may be required.

Vulnerable Groups

The DfE Guidance recognises groups with disproportionately high rates of exclusion e.g. pupils with SEN, pupils receiving free school meals, Travellers (Gypsy/Roma/Irish Heritage) and pupils from Black Caribbean communities.

In addition to early intervention, head teachers should consider what extra support may be needed to identify specific needs of these pupils to reduce their risk of exclusion.

Alternatives to exclusion and support available to schools

Given exclusion is a last resort, schools should consider what alternatives are available and what support and reasonable adjustment can reduce the risk of exclusion.  Alternatives to exclusion may include use of restorative practices, nurture groups, differentiated timetable and provision, alternative provision on or off-site, and in some cases a managed move may be considered.  

Assessment

Assessment is key to identifying ways to reduce and avoid exclusion.  Thorough assessment of needs should go beyond purely educational factors and consider the pupil as a whole.    

Schools’ assessment of special educational needs and disability is covered in the SEND code of practice.  The code states that the first response to pupils making less than expected progress should be high quality teaching.  Where there isn’t improvement, a SENCO-led assessment of whether the pupil has SEN, to include views of parent and pupil, should follow.  Attainment in line with chronological age doesn’t mean there is no learning difficulty or disability; some learning difficulties and disabilities occur across the range of cognitive ability and, left unaddressed may lead to frustration which may manifest as disaffection, emotional or behavioural difficulties. 

Though persistent disruptive behaviours don’t necessarily mean a pupil has SEN, assessment of the causal factors should consider undiagnosed learning difficulties, communication difficulties, mental health issues and family/housing/social issues that may be impacting on the pupil’s behaviour.  An Early Help Assessment (EHA) can be used to identify a pupil’s wider needs.          

The Early Help Assessment (EHA) is Oxfordshire's standardised assessment tool for identifying children's needs.  If you would like further information about completing an Early Help Assessment, there is guidance online or you may wish to contact the Locality and Community Support Team for advice and support.

The Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Team can support the Education Health and Care Plan Review process and where necessary an early or emergency annual review to discuss planning for pupils at risk of exclusion.

The Education Psychology Service can support assessment of need, jointly plan support with school and parents, and develop evidence-based interventions to improve learning, social and behavioural outcomes.  The team offers observations, consultations for teachers and staff training; advice to school staff on techniques and strategies to meet needs of vulnerable groups including those with cognition and learning difficulties, emotional behavioural and social needs, ADHD or anxiety-based needs, communication and interaction needs including Autism Spectrum Conditions, speech, language and communication needs, sensory, psychological and developmental needs.   

The Oxfordshire School Inclusion Team (OXSIT) consists of Inclusion Consultants that specialise in all aspects of educational inclusion and are committed to improving outcomes for all learners.  The team supports schools to improve whole school behaviour, provision for individual learners presenting with challenging behaviour and those with Social Emotional and Mental Health needs.  They can support strategic development of SEND provision in schools including a robust SEND audit to inform development planning. 

Funding

It is expected that schools use their funds to make reasonable adjustments to individual pupils’ provision including purchasing any specialist support or resources that may be required to meet their needs.  In addition to the Age-Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and devolved SEN funding, for a number of pupils there is also pupil premium funding: 

  1. Age Weighted Pupil Funding (AWPU) including notional element one SEN funding in excess of £4,000 for KS3/4 and in excess of £2900 for KS1/2
  2. SEN delegated element two funding notionally up to £6,000 per pupil.
  3. Pupil Premium – Free School Meal eligibility £935; Looked after child (LAC) £1,900; child no longer looked after because of adoption, special guardianship order, child arrangements, residence order £1,900; service child £300. 
  4. Top-up funding above £10,000 that is delegated to secondary schools using a formula approach.

A notional budget should not limit the amount schools spend on SEN. Additional SEN provision should be costed by the school in relation to identified interventions and expected outcomes for each child or young person, avoiding the use of a currency of teaching assistant hours.

Services and providers

Within Oxfordshire, there are a range of free and traded services available to schools supporting pupils who are at risk of exclusion. There are increasing numbers of organisations offering education and behaviour support services to schools.  Oxfordshire County Council has a directory which includes some organisations offering educational provision, with guidance on commissioning provision under the Alternative Provision Directory.  This is not an exhaustive list of providers or services available to schools.

The Exclusion and Reintegration Officers may be able to help you identify what additional support is available.

The links below will take you to information about relevant services and resources:

Where a pupil's special educational needs are not met by appropriate learning interventions and the Local Offer, consideration should be given to an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

For secondary aged pupils, you may refer cases of pupils at risk of exclusion to the In Year Fair Access Protocol (IYFAP) Panel for consultation with other schools about alternatives to exclusion, consideration for a managed move or referral on to a Meadowbrook College programme. 

Permanent Exclusion Process

This PEX flowchart (pdf format, 180Kb) briefly outlines the order in which things should happen and the responsibilities of each party at each stage of the permanent exclusion process. The Exclusion & Reintegration Officers can offer guidance on a specific case throughout the process.  It is best practice to contact the Exclusion and Reintegration Officers before making the decision to permanently exclude a child.

If after full investigation, hearing the pupil’s views and considering the DfE guidance and any alternatives, you take the decision to permanently exclude a pupil, the parent must be informed of the decision, along with the Governors/Academy Trust and the Local Authority (including the LA where the child lives if different) in writing without delay.

For days 1-5 of the permanent exclusion, you must arrange for work to be sent home for the pupil and make provision to mark that work.  From day 6, the local authority is responsible for providing education.

The local authority is required to make a budget readjustment to reclaim the remaining portion of the Age-Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) for permanently excluded pupils to contribute towards the interim provision.

Informing Parents, Governors and Local Authority

Parents are often informed either face to face if there is a meeting, or over the telephone in the first instance.  The decision must be followed by written notification without delay, the letter must include specific information as outlined in the DfE guidance.  We have provided model letters which include prompts for all the required information in accordance with the DfE Guidance on our Exclusion Documents page for convenience.

All permanent exclusions must be communicated with Oxfordshire County Council using the PEX email pex@oxfordshire.gov.uk by emailing the letter notifying parents and a completed Exclusion Form (found on our Exclusion Documents page).

You must also send a completed an Exclusion and Reintegration Referral form (ERRF) and send with supporting documents to ERT@oxfordshire.gov.uk.  There is a form for Primary pupils and one for Secondary pupils, which you will find on our exclusion documents page.  The ERRF enables us to arrange interim provision for the pupil from day 6 of the permanent exclusion.

Pupils residing outside of Oxfordshire

If the pupil lives in a neighbouring local authority, you will also need to notify the pupil’s home authority of the permanent exclusion as it will be their responsibility to make provision for education from day 6 of the exclusion and identify the pupil’s next school.  For pupils resident in a neighbouring authority, you will need to give details of the relevant Officer or Team in the letter notifying parents instead of the Exclusion & Reintegration Officer from Oxfordshire.  For these pupils, the Exclusion and Reintegration Referral is not required.  You will need to check with the pupil’s home authority for their referral process.

Marking a permanent exclusion

‘Whilst an excluded pupil’s name remains on a school’s admissions register, the pupil should be marked using the appropriate attendance code. Where alternative provision has been made and the pupil attends it, an appropriate attendance code, such as Code D (if the alternative provision is at a PRU or independent school where the pupil is dual registered) or Code B (if the provision is an approved educational activity that does not involve the pupil being registered at any other school), should be used. Where pupils are not attending alternative provision, they should be marked absent using Code E.’

(DfE 2017, Section 7, Para 86)

Our advice is therefore:

  • Mark code E (Excluded) for the days of the exclusion where the pupil is not attending an alternative provision i.e. at least days 1-5 of an exclusion and all subsequent days until the pupil attends an education provision.
  • Mark code B (Off-site educational activity) for any days where the pupil is attending an off-site taught provision arranged and monitored by the school but where the pupil is not registered. 
  • Mark code D (Dual registration) from the first day of interim education at Meadowbrook or other provision where the pupil is registered on roll and the school are monitoring the attendance at the interim provision.

The governing body's disciplinary committee (GDC) meeting

Following a decision to permanently exclude a pupil, the school should provide written evidence detailing the incident(s) leading to the decision to permanently exclude, and evidence that the exclusion guidance was followed in the making of the decision and throughout the process. You may find the School Guidance on Presenting Evidence to the Governing Body (pdf format, 312Kb) helpful in collating evidence for a governing body’s disciplinary committee meeting.

The Exclusion and Reintegration Officers can offer advice to you on providing written evidence for a GDC.

Responsibilities of the governing body following a permanent exclusion

The governing body’s discipline committee will need to convene by the 15th school day after the date the permanent exclusion was issued to review the head teacher’s decision to permanently exclude. A Clerk is appointed to administrate the process.

The Governor Disciplinary Committee hearing must consist of at least 3 Governors, the Head Teacher must attend as they took the decision to permanently exclude; Parents and the pupil must be invited and may choose to bring an advocate or friend for support.  The hearing should be arranged at a time that the Parents can attend, although some Parents choose not to attend at all or some choose to attend without their child.  The hearing must proceed even if the parent chooses not to attend and should be conducted and minuted as if the parent were in attendance.

The local authority’s role in the GDC Hearing

The education inclusion team aims to provide an Exclusion & Reintegration Officer to review the paperwork evidence and provide a report to the governors, head teacher and parents which aims to highlight issues where further clarity may be required, gaps which require additional information and occasions where it appears the statutory guidance has been ignored.  The ERO can give a view on what other schools might do in similar circumstances and offer advice and information on the DfE statutory guidance.  The ERO can also assist in ensuring the GDC Hearing adheres to the DfE statutory guidance achieving a fair Hearing and therefore robust decision.

For Academies, the Governing Body/Academy Trust may decide whether to invite the local authority to make representations.  Many Governing Bodies/Academy Trusts choose to invite the local authority representative to assist them in ensuring the process is thorough and robust.  If the Governing Body/Academy Trust chooses not to invite the local authority representative, the parents may invite the local authority representative.

For Maintained Schools, the local authority automatically makes representation.

Arrangements for the meeting

The Clerk to the Governors should ensure that the parents/carers, head teacher and Exclusion & Reintegration Officer are consulted when setting the date for this meeting.

When choosing a date, be aware that the written evidence provided by the Head Teacher will need to be circulated to all parties at least 5 school days in advance of the meeting.

The clerk sends an invite to the parents (model letter available on our Exclusion Documents page) and a copy of the letter inviting parents to the GDC to ERT@oxfordshire.gov.uk for Academies, the email should confirm whether the Governing Body/Academy Trust are inviting the local authority representative (even if this has already been discussed with an Exclusion & Reintegration Officer).

Role of the Governing Body/Academy Trust

The role of the Discipline Committee in this process is to examine all evidence presented by the school and parents/carers and decide whether on the balance of probabilities the incidents took place as described, whether all possible support was provided to support a change in the pupil’s behaviour and meet the educational needs of the pupil, to consider the impact on the learning of other pupils should this pupil remain at the school, and to decide whether the decision-making of the head teacher in this case was lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair, taking account of their legal duties. If the case were to go to independent review the panel would be very rigorous in their review of all the evidence available to the Governors.  It is the Discipline Committee’s conduct and decision that is reviewed at an independent review.

There is recognition within the DfE Guidance of the increased risk of exclusion to pupils from particular groups.  This includes: pupils with SEN; pupils eligible for Free School Meals; looked after children7; and pupils from certain ethnic groups. The ethnic groups with the highest rates of exclusion are: Gypsy / Roma; Travellers of Irish Heritage; and Black Caribbean communities. (DfE, 2017)

There is a significant focus on schools identifying and meeting the special education needs of pupils, making reasonable adjustments to meet those needs and reviewing the pupil’s progress, following the SEN code of practice.  Governors must give due consideration to the SEN of excluded pupils and demonstrate this in their decision-making.

Further advice about the role of governors in exclusion hearings can be obtained from the Exclusion and Reintegration Officers.

Once Governors have made their decision on whether or not to reinstate the pupil, they must notify the parent in writing without delay (model letter available on our Exclusion Documents page). This letter should also be emailed to Oxfordshire County Council at pex@oxfordshire.gov.uk. We advise that the parent should where possible be telephoned on the same day with the decision.

Independent Review Panel (IRP)

Parents have 15 school days from receipt of the GDC hearing decision letter to make an application for Independent Review.

For Maintained Schools, the local authority will manage the Independent Review process through the School Appeals Service. Academies are responsible for arranging and facilitating the Independent Review Panel unless they purchase the services of the local authority. The duty to arrange an Independent Review is described in detail in Section 8 of the DfE Guidance, 2017.

In the case of a review of a discipline committee’s decision, the clerk must inform the parent (or child if over the age of 18) of their right to have an SEN expert present at the review. This is regardless of whether or not a school recognises that a pupil has special educational needs. The SEN expert’s role is to provide impartial advice to the panel about how SEN could be relevant to the exclusion; for example, whether the school acted reasonably in relation to its legal duties when excluding the pupil.

Oxfordshire County Council has a pool of SEN Experts to fulfil this function available to maintained schools as part of the Independent Review. If you require further information on the SEN Expert role or on the IRP process please contact the Exclusion and Reintegration Officers.

The parent (or child if over the age of 18) also has the right to have a representative of the local authority present at the review.

Independent Review Panels can decide to:

  • uphold the exclusion decision;
  • recommend that the governing body reconsiders their decision, or
  • quash the decision and direct that the governing body considers the exclusion again.

The independent review panel’s decision is binding on the: pupil; parents; governing body; head teacher; local authority; and (in the case of an Academy) Academy Trust. Where a panel directs a governing body to reconsider an exclusion it has the power to order that a readjustment of the school’s budget must be made or (in the case of an Academy) that the school must make an equivalent payment to the local authority if the governing body does not offer to reinstate the pupil within 10 school days of receiving notice of the panel’s decision. The sum of this adjustment/payment must be £4,000 and would be in addition to any funding that would normally follow an excluded pupil.

Further advice about the role of governors in exclusion hearings can be obtained from the Exclusion & Reintegration Officers

Changing roll status following permanent exclusion

A school may remove a pupil from their roll at the appropriate time:

‘Only after the 15 days following a GDC decision to not offer reinstatement has passed where parent could apply for IRP, or earlier if parents notify school in writing that they don’t intend to apply for IRP, or after the IRP has been held, and any subsequent GDC that may result.’

(DfE 2017, Section 7, Para 83)

Be aware of Tribunals and discrimination cases:

‘Where a pupil’s name is removed from the school register and a discrimination claim is subsequently made, the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) or County Court has the power to direct that the pupil should be reinstated.’

(DfE 2017, Section 7, Para 85)

The pupil can be taken off roll from the date of the Governor Disciplinary Committee (GDC) hearing that followed the permanent exclusion decision.

Altering an exclusion

There are occasions where head teachers wish to alter a decision on exclusion in one of 4 ways:

  • Rescind a permanent exclusion
  • Reduce the length of a fixed-period exclusion
  • Extend the length of a fixed-period exclusion
  • Change a fixed-period exclusion to a permanent exclusion

The DfE guidance states:

The law does not allow for extending a fixed-period exclusion or ‘converting’ a fixed-period exclusion into a permanent exclusion. In exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light, a further fixed-period exclusion may be issued to begin immediately after the first period ends; or a permanent exclusion may be issued to begin immediately after the end of the fixed period.

(Paragraph 3, DfE 2017)

The head teacher may withdraw an exclusion that has not been reviewed by the governing board.

(Paragraph 5, DfE 2017)

A fixed-period exclusion may be reduced in length or rescinded by the head teacher.  Such changes should be communicated in writing to the parents/carers with an explanation. 

In the past, head teachers may have issued extended fixed-period exclusions or changing a fixed-period exclusion to a permanent exclusion on receipt of additional information.  The 2017 guidance states this is not lawful.  Head teachers may issue a further consecutive fixed term exclusion to that originally made, in exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light.  The same applies should the additional evidence cause a head teacher to issue a permanent exclusion.  In each case, the additional exclusion begins on the day after the original exclusion ends. 

Exclusion advice and support for parents

Permanent exclusion places an enormous emotional strain on families. The support and information that parents/carers receive at this time can positively affect their ability to support their child and help them to move on successfully to the next stage of their education. Exclusion and Reintegration Officers are able to explain the process of permanent exclusion to parents and to signpost to agencies able to offer support and advice which include the following:

Fixed-period exclusion

In accordance with DfE Exclusion Guidance, certain information must be included in letters home to parents/carers following a fixed-period exclusion. We have created model letters for schools to use to advise parents of an exclusion, these are available on our Exclusion Documents page or there is information on the Department for Education page.

Information about provision of education whilst excluded, re-integration meetings and when governors are required to meet to review an exclusion can also be found on these pages or by contacting the Exclusion and Reintegration Officers.

If a fixed-period exclusion brings the total days excluded to more than 15 days in one (long) term, the governing body’s discipline committee must convene to review the head teacher’s decision to exclude.

For the first 5 days of a fixed-period exclusion, the school must send home work for the pupil and arrange to have it marked. For a fixed-period exclusion of more than 5 days, or any cumulative exclusions on consecutive days that exceed 5 days, it is the governing body’s duty to arrange appropriate alternative education to the pupil from day 6. 

Fixed-period exclusions are reported to the LA data within schools’ management information systems.  Exclusions will be recorded in the school register and will require additional input into the exclusion section of the schools’ management information systems with the reason code.

Marking a fixed-period exclusion:

  • Mark code E (Excluded) for the days of the exclusion where the pupil is not receiving taught provision/attending an alternative provision i.e. at least days 1-5 of a fixed-period exclusion.
  • Mark code B (Off-site educational activity) for any days where the pupil is attending an off-site taught provision arranged and monitored by the school but where the pupil is not registered.  The B code cannot be used for work sent home or any other arrangements other than attendance of taught provision.  
  • Mark code D (Dual registration) from the first day of interim education at a provision where the pupil is registered on roll and the school are monitoring the attendance at the interim provision.

Reintegration meetings following fixed-period exclusion

It is usual practice for schools to hold a meeting on the first day a pupil returns to school following a fixed-period exclusion, to plan their supported reintegration. Reintegration meetings usually involve the pupil, parents/guardians and one or two key members of school staff. In some cases it may be useful to include other agencies if they are directly involved in supporting the pupil e.g. a Hub worker.

These meetings are most successful when focussed on how the pupil can succeed within school and how further exclusions can be avoided, identifying what both the school and the pupil can do to ensure success. Conditions cannot be placed upon the pupil returning to school. Whilst it may be appropriate to offer the support of outside agencies e.g. PCMAHS, or for the pupil to offer an apology to someone, these cannot be conditions of the pupil’s reintegration. Once the fixed-period exclusion has ended, the pupil should return to school.

Using Restorative Approaches in the preparation and during the meeting can support successful reintegration. More information and support with Restorative Approaches is available from Jo Brown, Jo Brown -Anti-Bullying Co-ordinator.

In Year Fair Access Protocol (IYFAP) and Inclusion meetings

The schools admissions code requires that all local authorities operate a Fair Access Protocol to ensure that vulnerable children and young people who are without a school place are admitted quickly with all schools sharing the responsibility in an equitable manner.

In 2018 the IYFAP / Inclusion processes were reviewed by school leaders and key partners and stakeholders. The result of the work is the document Terms of reference IYFAP / inclusion with appendices (pdf format, 600Kb) 

Please read this if you are a new member to the IYFAP / Inclusion Panel. These documents are all available from your Exclusion Reintegration Officer and the clerk for the meeting. From April 2019 the following forms should be used.

Part A of the meeting

1. For pupils requiring a place in a school via the In Year Fair Access Protocol

Please complete by the referral deadline (admissions / attendance) OR on the day the decision is made to permanently exclude a pupil. Please email the EIT inbox and your named Exclusion and Reintegration Officer. Please include the area name (North / Central /South/ West) and the reason for referral in the title eg. ‘PEX 1’ in the title.

Part B of the meeting

2. To initiate a strategic discussion around a particular issue affecting pupils in school or in a locality (eg. CDE, poor attendance due to mental health issues etc) or sharing of good practice (this may include curriculum developments to support learners vulnerable to underachievement and positive experiences of interventions and/ or alternative provision). To agenda an item contact the Chair ( and clerk ) or raise in a meeting for a future agenda.

3. To discuss individual pupils for consultation. There will be a no names consultation slot on the agenda. Please have a discussion with you Exclusion Reintegration Officer about the pupil before raising a pupil at the panel meeting. Pupils requiring actions from other agencies for safeguarding reasons will be noted and added to the minutes and to ONE.

4. To request funding for an in-school intervention or LA funded alternative provision to support inclusion.

Secondary schools applying for inclusion funding should use this form from April 2019 onwards.

This should be sent via email to the EIT inbox by the deadline of the next meeting. Please include the area name (North / Central /South/ West) and the words ‘inclusion funding application’ in the title. Schools should discuss this application with parents in advance of putting in the request.

Primary schools seeking additional support should contact their Exclusion, Reintegration Officer. If additional funding is required schools should contact their SEN officer.

5. To discuss with the panel opportunities for a possible managed move intervention.

The referral (the ERRF) should be sent via email to the Exclusion Reintegration Officer by the referral deadline for the meeting. Please include the area name (North / Central /South/ West) and the words ‘Managed Move application’ in the title. Managed Moves are usually arranged directly between schools but this intervention must be lodged at the inclusion meeting and the managed move protocol followed. Schools must discuss this application with parents in advance of putting in the request.

Referrals must be fully completed and accurate. All schools will need to demonstrate the inclusive strategies and interventions deployed over the last twelve months.

 

Exclusion advice and support for parents

Permanent exclusion places an enormous emotional strain on families. The support and information that parents/carers receive at this time can positively affect their ability to support their child and help them to move on successfully to the next stage of their education. Exclusion and Reintegration Officers can explain the process of permanent exclusion to parents and to signpost to agencies able to offer support and advice which include the following: