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Sometimes a school will exclude a child, which means that they are not allowed to go to school.

This can be:

  • a fixed-term exclusion: a pupil is not allowed to go to school for a set amount of days - from half a day to a maximum of 45 days in one school year (what used to be called ‘suspended’)
  • a permanent exclusion: a pupil is removed from the school roll (the official school register) and are not allowed to return (what used to be called ‘expelled’).

Internal exclusions, often known as isolation, are where a child is removed from their normal lessons for a period of time and work in a space away from their class. Internal exclusions are not subject to the same rules as external exclusions.


What does the law say about exclusions?

All children of compulsory school age have a legal right to receive a full-time education. We (Hertfordshire County Council) have a legal duty to provide all children and young people in our area with this education unless their parents voluntarily make other arrangements.

There is currently no legal definition of what a ’full-time’ education is, but children of school age usually receive around 5 hours of education a day for about 190 days a year.

The only reason a child can be excluded is because of their behaviour either in or outside of school. The decision to exclude must be:

  • lawful (only fixed term or permanent exclusions, properly implemented, are lawful)
  • rational
  • reasonable
  • fair
  • proportionate.

Only the Head teacher or acting Head teacher can give an exclusion, and there are strict processes which the school must follow in order for the exclusion to be considered ‘lawful’. Parents must always be told about an exclusion in writing by the Head teacher.

Different processes for informing parents must be followed by schools depending on the type and duration of the exclusion. Further information is available from Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (known as IPSEA) on exclusions.

Managed moves

A managed move is the transfer of a child who is at serious, but not immediate, risk of permanent exclusion from their school to another school.

Medical Absence

Government guidance is clear that if your child has a medical condition (physical or mental) then they should be able to access a full education (including school trips and PE) and be able to get a place at school like other children. The Department for Education has some useful guidance on supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.

This includes if your child or young person has toileting issues including being in incontinence pants. A school can't stop your child from coming to school because of this.

The only exception would be if your child’s medical condition put other pupils at risk, for example if they had an infectious disease.

What does the law say about part time timetables?

There may be time when a child cannot attend school full-time, due to, for example,

  • recovery from illness
  • exceptional family circumstances
  • pregnancy
  • returning home from time in custody.

Also, there may be times when a child is experiencing severe behavioural difficulties at school and is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with full-time attendance.

Where appropriate to meet the needs of the child, the law allows the short term use of a part-time/reduced timetable. The parents of the child must agree to any part time timetable.

What does an internal exclusion or a part-time timetable mean for my child?

Internal exclusions

Internal exclusions are not subject to the same legal framework of reporting and monitoring as external exclusions. Schools do not have to report these figures to us, or even their own Governors, so there is no consistent knowledge of their use.

Some schools will set children the same work that they would have carried out within their normal classes so they don’t fall behind, but this is not always the case and often children are set age appropriate work but miss out on their normal teaching.

If your child is subject to recurring internal exclusions it may be a sign that their needs are not being met. It is a good idea to discuss what else could be done to support your child with the school SENCO.

Part-time timetables

A part-time timetable must not be treated as a permanent or long-term plan. The arrangement should always agree an end-date by when it is expected that the child will return to full-time education (or when an alternative will be provided) and be reviewed regularly in the light of any changes to the child’s circumstances. A temporary part-time timetable should provide a way to help the pupil back into full-time education.

Permanent Exclusions

Permanent exclusion means your child is expelled. The council must arrange full-time education from the sixth school day.

Information about permanent exclusions in Hertfordshire.

Independent organisations who can help

Provide impartial and confidential information, advice and support to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Free and independent legally based information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Free, friendly, independent and confidential telephone helpline for parents and others looking for information and advice on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). 0300 302 3731

0300 123 4043 - Hertfordshire County Council customer call centre

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