Suspensions/Exclusions from School Update
During the last year the Department for Education revised how they refer to Exclusions from school. From the Autumn term 2021 a fixed period exclusion will now be referred to a suspension; references to Permanent exclusions remain unchanged.
Also, in the Autumn 2020 they revised the suspension/exclusion codes to include some additional codes and removed the use of OT (Other) – please see Useful documents below.
They also issued New Temporary Guidance to schools regarding suspensions/exclusions from schools, which particularly related to the period during the Coronavirus outbreak. These details were issued to schools in June 2020 and have been updated in June 2021 with particular reference to any suspension/exclusion that have/or will be issued between 5 September 2020 and 24 September 2021 (inclusive of those dates) and relates to:-
- Remote meetings
- Applications for independent Review – parent/carers should now have 25 school days to make representation
- Possible extensions to meeting deadlines for Governing Bodies and IRPs
The new guidance can be found here
Statutory guidance from the DfE sets out what schools and local authorities must do to comply with the law:
- Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England – Statutory guidance for those with legal responsibilities in relation to exclusion 2017
It would be helpful to read the statutory guidance alongside:
- School Discipline (Pupil Exclusions and Reviews) (England) Regulations 2012
- The Education (Provision of Full-Time Education for Excluded Pupils) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014
- The School Discipline (England) (Coronavirus) (Pupil Exclusions and Reviews) (Amendment) Regulations 2020
Fixed-Term suspensions and Permanent Exclusions
School leaders must be mindful of the fact that the law does not allow for extending a fixed-period suspension or ‘converting’ a fixed-period suspension into a permanent exclusion. In exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light, a further fixed-period suspension may be issued to begin immediately after the first period ends. Alternatively, a permanent exclusion may be issued to begin immediately after the end of the fixed period.
The Decision to Exclude
In line with paragraph 16 of the statutory guidance, a decision to exclude a pupil permanently should only be taken:
- 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.
School leaders must ensure that both criteria are fulfilled before issuing a permanent exclusion and that any explanation for the exclusion clearly references how they have been met; failure to do so will likely lead to robust challenge by Independent Review.
Local Authority Support
To ensure schools comply with statutory guidance issued by the DfE, we recommend use of forms, templates and model letters developed by the Local Authority (see below).
Suspensions/Exclusion should be used as a last resort after all other options have been investigated. The NYCC Ladder of Intervention provides structured, step-by-step guidance for schools to support individual pupils who have social and emotional needs manifesting in challenging behaviour that could lead to an suspension/exclusion. The guidance details a graduated response to ensure early help is in place to support children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs, including those that are at risk of suspension/exclusion. Before taking the decision to suspend/exclude, consider the following:
- What whole-school approaches and provision are in place to support this pupil?
e.g. whole school behaviour policy and inclusive practice to support behaviour for learning, quality first teaching, etc. Are school policies inclusive or do they discriminate against particular pupils with specific needs?
- What measures or strategies has the school put in place to support this specific pupil?
e.g. behaviour plan, specific learning support, mental health and wellbeing advice, etc.
Have support and intervention been put in place and has enough time been allowed for the intervention or support to take effect?
- If there have been multiple, repeat suspensions/exclusions for similar reasons (e.g. abusive behaviour, drug use, etc.) what has been put in place to successfully address the causes? Where the school is repeatedly suspending/excluding for the same reason, this could indicate unmet needs.
- What support has been sought from outside agencies, including the Local Authority? Through its universal and targeted provision, the LA provides access to a range of services. Has school accessed any of the following?
- SEND guidance (for pupils with Special Educational Needs or a Disability)
- Ladder of Intervention
- SEND Assessment (leading to an Education Health and Care Plan)
- Local Behaviour Collaborative or the Pupil Referral Service (PRS)
- Referral to the Locality Hubs to support additional educational and/or social, emotional and mental health needs
- Advice and support from an Educational Psychologist, the Early Help Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Youth Justice Service or Children’s Social Care
- An Early Help (EH) Assessment and Action Plan
Useful Documents (updated August 2021)
Guidance on Actions and Responsibilities
Early Help Contact Details