Guidance on suspensions and permanent exclusion

Information,advice and procedures on preventing suspensions and permanent exclusions

On this page you will find information about preventing suspensions and permanent exclusions for children in Oxfordshire and advice should you be considering making this decision.

If you are considering permanent exclusion for a child you must contact your Exclusion and Reintegration Officer, or another member of the team.

For a general enquiry please contact the Exclusion and Reintegration Officers.

Please note: As of January 2022, we are no longer able to accept paper packs for Governor Disciplinary Hearings. All packs should be sent electronically to all parties at least five school days before the date of the hearing.

What is a suspension and a permanent exclusion?

Suspension (previously fixed-period exclusion) is where a child is temporarily removed from school. They can only be removed for up to 45 school days in one school year, even if they’ve changed school. If a child has been suspended, 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.

Permanent exclusion means a child is expelled from their school. The Local Authority will arrange full-time education from the sixth school day.

‘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 suspension and permanent exclusion is a sanction, for actions that seriously or persistently breach the school’s behaviour policy.  Suspension and permanent exclusion, should only be considered as a last resort.  A Head Teacher taking a decision to suspend or permanently 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. 

Suspension and permanent 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, and Black and mixed heritage pupils experience disproportionately high rates of suspension and permanent exclusion.  The DfE Exclusion Guidance expects schools to take additional action to reduce the risk of suspension and permanent 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 suspend or permanently exclude for a non-disciplinary reason.  For example, it would be unlawful to suspend or permanently exclude a pupil simply because they have additional needs or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet. 

Children We Care For are particularly vulnerable to suspension and permanent exclusion.  We are proud to say we have no permanent exclusions for Children We Care For in Oxfordshire.  The Virtual School works in partnerships with schools to maintain this.  If you are concerned that a Child We Care For is at risk of permanent 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 suspension and permanent exclusion.

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

As part of our strategy to reduce suspension and permanent exclusion in Oxfordshire the following documents have been written with school leaders to increase inclusion in schools. 

OXSIT checklist to support schools to reduce the risk of suspension and exclusion. 

The Managed Move Protocol for Oxfordshire (pdf format, 122Kb)

Key considerations for a Head Teacher before deciding to suspend or permanently exclude a child

There is an expectation that schools will have employed the full range of measures to prevent or reduce the likelihood of suspension or permanent 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)

Click here for the full DfE Exclusion Guidance 2017

Key factors for a Head Teacher to consider when deciding to suspend or permanently exclude a child:

  • Safeguarding

Is it safe for the pupil to be suspended or permanently excluded and sent home?  Are there concerns about the pupil being at risk of exploitation in the community?  Is there a safer alternative?  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 suspension and permanent exclusion lawful in line with the DfE Exclusion Guidance?  Is the decision to suspend or permanently exclude being taken by the Head Teacher?  Is the decision to suspend or permanently exclude proportionate to the incident(s)?  Have all alternatives 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 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?  Has an Early Help Assessment been completed?  Has the ‘assess, plan, do, review’ cycle been completed to identify any unmet special educational need?

  • Factors increasing a pupil's risk of suspension and permanent exclusion

Is the pupil a Child We Care For?  Does the pupil have SEND?  Does the pupil have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and an Annual Review been held recently? Is the child from a Black and Minority Ethnic background? What has been done to support those groups at highest risk of suspension and permanent exclusion?

  • Mitigating factors

Are you aware of any circumstances that may have acutely increased the pupil's risk of suspension or permanent exclusion?  Have there been reports of bullying?  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 a suspension or permanent 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 any outside agency, the school must inform the relevant professionals when a child becomes at risk of suspension or permanent exclusion. In the event of a serious breach of the school’s behaviour policy, contact the relevant involved professionals at the earliest opportunity and before sending a pupil home. This is especially important for children on a Child in need or Child Protection Plan. However proactive planning with professional partners and family/carers before incidents have occurred is much more successful.

If you are concerned about the risk of suspension or permanent exclusion of a Child We Care For, please contact the pupil’s social worker and the Virtual School

For pupils where there is concern around exploitation, self-harm, neglect, or demonstrate behaviours that could cause them significant harm, a suspension or permanent exclusion can result in increased risks to the pupil’s immediate safety, health and wellbeing.         

Unlawful Suspensions or Permanent Exclusion

The DfE Exclusion 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.

(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)

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 pupils with additional needs 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. 

Suspensions are for a fixed period of time, once the suspension ends, the pupil attends school again as usual. Reintegration meetings can be good practice where used appropriately, they are NOT a condition of readmission. 

Factors increasing a pupil’s risk of suspension and permanent exclusion that require extra support

It is expected that schools take steps to identify pupils from groups with disproportionately high rates of suspension and permanent exclusion e.g. pupils with SEN, pupils receiving free school meals, and pupils from Black and Minority Ethnic groups.  In addition to early intervention, Head Teachers must consider what extra support may be needed to identify specific needs of these pupils to reduce their risk of suspension and permanent 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 Child We Care For.     

(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 Child We Care For, 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.

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

Pupils with EHCP

Schools must 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, 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 permanent exclusion, you must first seek an early or emergency annual review to consider what additional support may be required.  Contact the relevant SEN Officer for the pupil to initiate an early annual review and make clear the concerns you have about the pupil being at risk of permanent exclusion.

Children We Care For

Schools must co-operate proactively with foster carers or children’s home workers, the Local Authority that cares for the child and the Local Authority’s Virtual School Head. Concern about the behaviour, learning or wellbeing of pupils who are cared for must be raised with the pupil’s carers, Social Worker and the Virtual School for Looked After Children (VSLAC) as they arise and during scheduled CWCF Reviews and Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings.

If concerns arise suddenly, escalate quickly or a serious incident occurs which leads you to consider suspension or permanent exclusion, you must first seek an urgent review by contacting the pupil’s Social Worker and the VSLAC to consider what additional support or alternative placement may be required.

Pupils from BAME in full groups

Suspensions and permanent exclusion for pupils in Black and Minority Ethnic groups are disproportionately higher in Oxfordshire and when compared nationally. Head Teachers need to be mindful of this when making the decision to suspend or permanently exclude and put in early intervention to support pupils to remain in school.

Alternatives to suspension and permanent exclusion and support available to schools

Given suspension and permanent exclusion is a last resort, schools must consider what alternatives are available and what support and reasonable adjustment can reduce the risk.  Alternatives to suspension and permanent 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 and obligatory to identifying ways to reduce and avoid suspension and permanent 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 SEND, 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 SEND, 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. 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 permanent 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) is made up 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. Exclusion and Reintegration Team

Exclusion and Reintegration Officers (EROs) work closely with schools, governors, parents and local authority colleagues to provide advice on:

  • preventing exclusions
  • ensuring DfE Guidance and procedures are followed correctly for fixed period and permanent exclusions
  • The Exclusion and Reintegration Officers may be able to help you identify what additional support and alternative provision is available. 

Each area of the county (north, south, west and central) has a named Exclusion and Reintegration Officer.

You can email the team on ERT@oxfordshire.gov.uk or contact the helpline on 01865 323513

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 £3,000 for KS1/2
  2. SEN delegated element two funding notionally up to £6,000 per pupil.
  3. Pupil Premium – Free School Meal eligibility Primary £1,345, Secondary £955; Children We Care For £2,345; child no longer cared for because of adoption, special guardianship order, child arrangements, residence order £2,345; Service children £310. 
  4. Top-up funding above £10,000 that is delegated to secondary schools using a formula approach for children with EHCPs.

A notional budget should not limit the amount schools spend on SEND. Additional SEND 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 suspension and permanent exclusion. There are increasing numbers of organisations offering education and behaviour support services to schools.  Schools must quality assure their own commissioned providers.

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 Needs Assessment.

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

Permanent Exclusion Process

This Overview of the PEX Process (pdf format, 179Kb) 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 child, the parent must be informed of the decision, along with the Governors/Academy Trust and the Local Authority (including the Local Authority where the child lives if different) in writing on the day on the decision.

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 instant.  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 by sending the letter notifying parents (an example can be found on our Exclusion Documents page) to the PEX email pex@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

You must also send a completed an Exclusion and Reintegration Referral form (ERRF) and send with supporting documents to ERT@oxfordshire.gov.uk on day one of the PEX, 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 form (ERRF) is not required.  You will need to check with the pupil’s home authority for their referral process.

Marking a permanent exclusion or suspension

‘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 permanent exclusion where the pupil is not attending an alternative provision i.e. at least days 1-5 of a permanent  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

The governing board must consider the reinstatement of an excluded pupil within 15 school days19 of receiving notice of the exclusion if:

  • the exclusion is permanent;
  • it is a suspension which would bring the pupil's total number of school days of suspension to more than 15 in a term; or
  • it would result in a pupil missing a public examination or national curriculum test

(DfE 2017, Section 3, Para 55

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.

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

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 Learner Engagement Service aims to provide an Exclusion & Reintegration Officer to review the paperwork evidence and provide a report to the governors, which should be distributed to all parties ahead of the meeting. It aims to highlight areas of the DfE guidance, areas where further clarity may be required, gaps which require additional information and occasions where it appears the statutory guidance has not been followed. 

All schools must invite a Local Authority representative to Governors Disciplinary Panels.  Academy Schools are not obliged to consider their representations.

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. The committee will decide whether on the balance of probabilities the incidents took place as described, whether all possible support was provided to affect a change in the pupil’s behaviour and meet the educational needs of the pupil. The committee must consider any mitigation for the child, including the child’s familial and social circumstances. It will need 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 progress to Independent Review Panel (IRP), 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 IRP.

Once Governors have made their decision on whether 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.

Governors meetings for suspensions

Governors should meet to discuss the Head Teachers decision to suspend a child once a child has received 15 days of suspension in one term.

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 commission 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 permanent 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.

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 a permanent 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.

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 a suspension or permanent exclusion

The law does not allow for extending a suspension or ‘converting’ a suspension into a permanent exclusion. In exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light, a further suspension 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 suspension 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 suspension may be reduced in length or rescinded by the Head Teacher.  A permanent exclusion can be rescinded any time before the GDC. Such changes should be communicated immediately in writing to the parents/carers with an explanation. 

The 2017 guidance states it is not lawful convert a suspension into a permanent exclusion after investigations have taken place. The only incident where this can happen is where new information has come to light which was not available in the initial investigations. Head Teachers may issue a further consecutive suspension to that originally made. The same applies should the additional evidence cause a Head Teacher to issue a permanent exclusion.  In each case, the additional suspension begins on the day after the original suspension ends. 

Suspensions

If a suspension brings the total days suspended 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 suspend.

For the first 5 days of a suspension, the school must send home work for the pupil and arrange to have it marked. For a suspension of more than 5 days, or any cumulative suspensions 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. 

Suspensions are reported to the Local Authority data within schools’ management information systems. Where these are not schools must report directly to the Local Authority termly. Suspensions will be recorded in the school register and will require additional input into the suspension section of the schools’ management information systems with the reason code.

Reintegration meetings following a suspension

It is usual practice for schools to hold a meeting on the first day a pupil returns to school following a suspension, to further consider their supported reintegration.  Reintegration meetings usually involve the pupil, parents/guardians and one or two key members of school staff.  It may also be helpful to include other agencies directly involved in supporting the pupil, e.g. Early Help Worker.

These meetings are most successful when they are impartially chaired and not looking to unpick ‘Why?’.  Meetings should focus on how the pupil can succeed within school and how further suspensions can be avoided, identifying what both the school and the pupil can reasonably 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. CAMHS, or for the pupil to offer an apology to someone, these cannot be conditions of the pupil’s reintegration. Once the suspension has ended, the pupil should return to school.

Reintegration arrangements cannot be delayed due to the unavailability of parent/carers to attend.

Using restorative approaches in preparation for and during the meeting can support a successful reintegration.  Contact Clare Pike and/or visit our Restorative Practice webpage for more information on what this entails and how you can access free training.

In Year Fair Access and Inclusion meetings

Part A of the meeting

  1. For pupils requiring a place in a school via the In Year Fair Access Protocol ​EITHER due to PEX or for a Managed Move

Please complete the ERRF by the referral deadline OR on the day the decision is made to permanently exclude a pupil. Please email the ERT 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

  1. To discuss inclusion of pupils in Oxfordshire. This could be Managed Moves, applications for funding or alternative provision.
  2. To initiate a strategic discussion around a particular issue affecting pupils in school or in a locality (eg. CCE in full, 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.

To apply for funding or IYFAP alternative provision the IYFAP Funding Form should be sent via email to ERT@oxfordshire.gov.uk and to your area ERO by the deadline of the next meeting. The deadline is noon on the Monday the week BEFORE the meeting.  Schools must discuss this application with parents and ERO in advance of putting in the request.

For a Managed Move the ERRF should be sent via email to the Exclusion Reintegration Officer by the referral deadline for the meeting. 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 and ERO in advance of putting in the request. See Oxfordshire’s ManagedmoveprotocolOxfordshire.pdf

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