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Education e-briefing - New Pupil Exclusion Guidance For Academies and Schools in England

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


The Department for Education (“DfE”) has issued new statutory guidance on the exclusion of pupils from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England. The new guidance will apply to pupils excluded from 1 September 2017 and replaces the 2012 guidance in relation to such exclusions. The new guidance sets out the legal responsibilities for those who exclude students from educational settings, including head teachers, principals of academies, governing bodies and academy trusts. The guidance can be found here.

Earlier in the year the Government consulted on revisions to the 2012 guidance. The consultation sought views on revisions the DfE was proposing to make to the statutory guidance to make the rules that apply to exclusions and the process of review clearer. In particular the proposed changes aimed to provide greater confidence to head teachers on their use of exclusion powers and to provide greater clarity to governing boards and independent review panels on their consideration of exclusions.

In July 2017 the Government published a response to the consultation which is accessible from this link.

Amongst the changes made, the September 2017 guidance also introduces two non-statutory annexes which set out further information for head teachers and parents about the processes that should be followed when determining whether an exclusion decision should be made, how that decision should be reviewed and what information should be provided.

The first non-statutory guide (Annex B) is for head teachers, academy principals and teachers in charge of pupil referral units. This contains guidance on early intervention, taking the decision, considerations in relation to the governing body and independent review panel and post-exclusion action. Amongst other things, the guidance states that there must be a behaviour policy; there should be a system in place to ensure that the head teacher is aware of a pupil showing persistent poor behaviour or not responding to low level sanctions; wherever possible to avoid the permanent exclusion of those with EHC plans, statements of SEN or looked after children; matters to consider when taking the decision whether to exclude and informing the parents of the exclusion.

The second non-statutory guide (Annex C) is for parents/carers. This contains guidance on reasons for exclusions, the exclusion process and arrangements for the child after exclusion. This includes information about the legal obligations on an academy or school when excluding a pupil, the right to question the decision and where to get independent advice.

As a result of the responses to the consultation the DfE has said that it will produce a further non-statutory guide for governors which will be issued in due course.

Despite the new exclusion guidance coming into force in September 2017, the 2012 version is still available on the website as any pupil who was excluded before September 2017, and whose exclusion is still subject to review, should be considered on the basis of the 2012 guidance.