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Suspension from school

When a child is excluded from a school as a punishment for a fixed period of time.

Questions and answers

What does a suspension mean? (previously fixed period exclusion)

The headteacher has decided that because of your child's behaviour he/she cannot attend school for a defined period as a punishment.  You should be notified of this suspension in writing as well as being told either on the phone or in person.

Do I have any say in the matter?

You can of course discuss the decision with the headteacher.  Sometimes you may wish to ask members of the governing body to scrutinise the headteacher’s decision. The governing body must consider anything you want to say but the rules vary according to how long the suspension. You will be sent a letter about the suspension.  Follow the instructions on the letter for how to appeal the decision to the governors. 

For suspensions of 1 to 5 days in a term (add all the days together if more than one suspension) - The governors must consider anything you wish to say about the suspension decision and may meet with you. They cannot reinstate your child (i.e. overturn the suspension) but might put a note on file if they did not agree with the suspension. There is no time limit about when this meeting should take place, but it should be reasonably prompt.

For suspensions of 6 to 15 days in a term - You have a right to request that the governors must meet within 50 school days of the suspension and hear your views. The governors can either uphold the suspension or reinstate your child. If the suspension has already ended when the governors consider it and the governors do not uphold it, they will record this on the pupil’s file.

More than 15 days in a term - The governors must meet within 15 school days whether you request it or not. You will be invited to the meeting. The governors will either uphold or overturn the suspension.

I’ve been asked to take my child home or keep them off school but no exclusion has been issued – Is that ok?

A pupil can only be sent home if they are formally suspended for a disciplinary reason.  Pupils cannot be sent home for any other reason e.g. because they need to cool off, or because they are not coping well with a particular activity, unless you are advised that they are medically unwell, in which case it would be appropriate for you to take them home. This is then recorded as an authorised absence.

In some exceptional cases, schools and parents may agree a short period of reduced hours provision where a pupil attends for a part of the school day to support their reintegration into full-time provision.  This can only occur for a short time, with the agreement of parents and must be reported to the Local Authority by the school. 

If you are concerned that your child is being sent home from school unlawfully, you can contact the Learner Engagement Team (01865 323513 term time only) or seek legal advice from The Children’s Legal Centre.  They aim to provide free legal advice and information to parents on state education matters.  They can be contacted on 0808 802 0008 or at Children's Legal Centre The advice line is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, except Bank Holidays and 24 December to 1 January.

What happens to my child's education during a suspension when my child is suspended up to five days?

For the first five days of any suspension, you are responsible for your child's supervision during school hours. You must ensure that he/she is not present in a public place during school hours without good reason. You are liable to a penalty notice (a fine) if your child is found in a public place without good cause.

What about schoolwork?

The school is responsible for setting and marking work during this period and you may be asked to collect and deliver it for marking.

What happens if the suspension is longer than five days?

The school is responsible for making full time provision beyond five days. This may under some circumstances be on the school site.

What does "full time provision" mean?

Full time provision may not be the same number of hours as a pupil would normally be in school. Any reduction in hours from full-time must be discussed with you as part of a proposed reintegration plan. This should be focussed on your child / young person’s needs at that period of  time.

The letter I received refers to a "reintegration meeting". What is this?

It is good practice for a school to arrange a reintegration meeting with you and your child to support a successful return to school. This meeting should focus on the support the school will put in place to your child not to be excluded again. A school cannot refuse to re-admit a pupil without a reintegration meeting.

When will the meetings take place and who must attend?

The meeting must be arranged between days one and 15 of the start of the suspension. The headteacher or a senior member of staff will attend and at least one parent or carer is expected to attend. Your child will usually attend part or all of the meetings.

I cannot attend on the day the school has set the meeting

The school should as far as possible try to arrange the meeting at a time and date convenient to you and the school.

What will happen if I do not attend?

The suspension cannot be extended, but it may make a successful return for your child more difficult. Additionally, your failure to attend will be recorded and could be considered if the school or Local Authority applies to a magistrate's court for a Parenting Order.

What if I do not cooperate with the suspension?

The school will consider your child's safety in deciding what action to take. This will depend on his/her age and ability. However, in some circumstances Police or Community Support Officers or Social Care could become involved, and if you continue not to cooperate, the school or Local Authority might apply for a Parenting Order.

My child has special educational needs (SEN), does that make a difference and where can I get advice?

If your child has Special Educational Needs, you may feel that the school should have provided more support which might have averted some of the difficulties, or that the school is discriminating against your child and excluding them because of their disability or that the disability was a contributing factor.

Suspension should be the last resort for a pupil with SEN. Under the Equality Act, disabled children should not be excluded for reasons connected to their disability. For example, a pupil with Tourette's Syndrome should not be excluded for swearing. Advice and information.

If your child has Special Educational Needs it might be helpful for the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) to be at the integration meeting following a suspension. For more information contact the SEN officer.

These meetings can be a very difficult time for parents and you can take someone you know to support you at the meeting, ask SENDIASS for help and advice.