Children with SEN and/or disabilities are much more likely to be excluded from school than their class mates.

There are only two types of exclusion which are lawful: permanent and fixed-period. Only the head teacher of a school (or the teacher in charge of a pupil referral unit or the principal of an academy) can exclude a pupil.

This means that legally a child is either in school full-time or they are excluded from school. Legally they can be excluded for a fixed term (for a specific number of school days) or permanently excluded (unable to return to that school unless the parent or young person can overturn the exclusion on appeal).


‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home to cool off, are all unlawful regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Too many children and young people with SEN and disabilities are excluded illegally. This can occur when parents are asked to take or keep them at home from school without proper notification that it is an exclusion. This commonly includes picking them up from school early, at lunchtime, not coming in on certain days, or only being in school on a part-time timetable.

Any exclusion of a pupil, even for a short period of time, must be formally recorded.

For more information and advice about this please contact us on 0300 303 2677 or visit www.ipsea.org.uk