School suspensions and permanent exclusions

We can provide advice and guidance to Headteachers, parents and carers on the statutory guidance produced by the Government for all suspensions and permanent exclusions.

The guidance applies to all maintained schools and academies and provides the legal framework that all parties must follow in relation to suspension or exclusion.

Independent schools, City technology colleges, City colleges for the technology of the arts, sixth form colleges, 16 to 19 academies or 16 to19 free schools have separate suspension and permanent exclusion procedures.

Summary of the guidance

Only the Headteacher or Principal can suspend or exclude a pupil.

Whenever a Headteacher suspends or permanently excludes a pupil they must, without delay, provide parents with the following information in writing:

  • the reasons for the suspension or permanent exclusion
  • the period of a suspension or, for a permanent exclusion, the fact that it is permanent
  • parents’ right to make representations about the suspension or permanent exclusion to the governing board and how the pupil may be involved in this;
  • how any representations should be made; and
  • where there is a legal requirement for the governing board to consider the suspension or permanent exclusion, that parents or a pupil if they are 18 years old have a right to attend a meeting, to be represented at that meeting (at their own expense) and to bring a friend

Headteachers must inform us of all permanent exclusions. They must inform us of any suspensions regardless of the duration.

Key changes in the guidance

The Government produced updated statutory guidance on Suspensions and Permanent Exclusion that came into effect from September 2022. It replaces the previous guidance from 2017.

The key changes are:

  • headteachers may cancel an exclusion that has not been reviewed by the governing board. This has always been an option but the Government consulted on removing this. This practice is sometimes known as withdrawing/rescinding a suspension or permanent exclusion. If this occurs, parents, the governing board and the local authority should be notified, and if relevant, the social worker and Virtual School Headteacher. Further information of other actions that should take place after an exclusion is cancelled is set out in paragraph 13
  • when headteachers suspend or permanently exclude a pupil they must, without delay, notify parents. Legislative changes mean that if a pupil has a social worker, or if a pupil is looked-after, the headteacher must now, also without delay after their decision, notify the social worker and/or Virtual School Headteacher as applicable
  • when headteachers suspend or permanently exclude a pupil, they must also notify the local authority, without delay. Legislative changes mean that this must be done regardless of the length of a suspension. For permanent exclusions you are still required to notify nominated Officers immediately
  • guidance on the role of a social worker and Virtual School during governing board meetings and Independent Review Panel meetings
  • guidance on managed moves, what they are and how they should be used
  • clarified guidance on the use of off-site direction5 as a short-term measure that can be used as part of a school’s behaviour management strategy
  • further guidance on the practice of involving pupils so that any excluded pupil is enabled and encouraged to participate at all stages of the suspension or permanent exclusion process, considering their age and ability to understand
  • guidance for governing boards to ensure that they review data to consider the level of pupil moves and the characteristics of pupils who have been permanently excluded to ensure the sanction is only used when necessary as a last resort

The guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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