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School Discipline and Exclusions in UK

This section explains school discipline rules and how they operate their exclusion policy. Check the guidance for teachers and parents on pupil punishment for bad behaviour.

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Education facilities enforce strict rules on discipline and exclusions.

Teachers have the right to punish the worst offenders. They will admonish and reprimand all pupils who misbehave.

Under school discipline rules, they can include physical searches. Typical reasons to search a pupil would be to look for weapons or drugs.

Schools can also exclude students from their educational facility. As a rule this only occurs only in the most severe of cases. But, pupil exclusion can occur for incidents that take place outside of the school.

Discipline and Student Behaviour Policy

The ‘school behaviour policy’ formulates the rules of pupil conduct. It covers the appropriate conduct of pupils during their schooling days.

The ‘school behaviour policy’ formulates the rules of pupil conduct. It covers the appropriate conduct of pupils during their schooling days.

All schools must have a behaviour policy. The terms of which include the time before and after schooling. It must state how the facility will address and prevent incidents of
bullying in schools.

Note: A copy of the school discipline policy is available on request from the facility that your child attends.

Punishing a Pupil

Pupil punishment and reprimands sanction pupils for breaching the school behaviour policy. Punishments, also known as ‘sanctions‘, can include any or all these examples:

  • A verbal reprimand (telling-off) or a detention.
  • Removal from a classroom or a group activity.
  • A report of bad behaviour sent home to the parents.
  • Temporary confiscation of banned or restricted items (e.g. iPad, MP3, mobile phone, vapors).
School Detention Policy

Schools are not required to give prior notice for after-school detentions. There is also no need for them to give any explanation to parents on the reason for handing out the detention.

School Physical Contact Policy

As a rule, using ‘reasonable force’ is acceptable for restraining or controlling students. In most cases, the law allows staff members to hold a pupil’s arm while escorting them into a classroom.

Complain about School Punishments

Talk to the headteacher if you are unhappy with the punishment given to your children in school. If this does not resolve the situation, you can request a copy of the school and pupil behaviour policy. The document includes the
correct steps for the school complaints procedure.

School Exclusions Rules

A pupil may face exclusion from school in certain circumstances. The headteacher can exclude children for their bad conduct or their poor behaviour. Suspension or expulsion can result from bad conduct out of school as well as on
the premises.

What Happens if a School Excludes Your Child?

School Discipline Rules and School Exclusion Policy

School administration will inform you if your child gets excluded. You will receive a formal letter explaining why they excluded your child.

The letter also states how long the exclusion will last. It will include the process for challenging a school exclusion order.

In most cases, an exclusion operates with immediate effect. But, it is rare for them to force parents into taking emergency time off from work. Often, they
will let you collect your child at the end of the school day.

Children found in a Public Place

It is your responsibility to ensure a child is not in a public place during the first 5 school days of an exclusion. You would need a valid reason to get an exception to this rule (e.g. a dentist appointment).

Failing to ensure this is a breach of school attendance and absence law. Parents may receive a fixed fine from the local council which increases if it does
not get paid within 21 days.

Different Types of School Exclusion

There are two different types of school exclusions. The least severe is the fixed period (suspended) and worst is permanent (expelled).

  • Fixed Period Exclusion: This means that your child has a suspension from school. The maximum time for a removal is 45 school days of exclusion in any full school year. This includes cases where they have moved
  • If the suspension is 5 days or less the school will arrange for homework and marking. If it is over 5 days then the school or local authority must arrange suitable full-time education. This may include
    home tutoring, a pupil referral unit, or on-line studies.
  • Permanent Exclusion: Your child will have been expelled if they get ‘permanently’ excluded. The local authority will arrange full-time education after six days of school expulsion.

Alternative Education after Exclusion

You are responsible for ensuring your child attends any alternative education arranged by the local authority.

Making a Complaint

You can make a complaint after five days if no alternative education is in place or it is unsatisfactory. Thus, you should:

If you are still unsatisfied then you need to complain to the Department for Education (DfE). Give them relevant information that proves you followed the proper complaint procedure.

How to Challenge a School Exclusion

You will receive a formal letter explaining why and for how long the exclusion will last. The letter will also include the process for challenging an exclusion order.

The governing body must consider the reinstatement of an excluded pupil. This happens within 15 school days of receiving notice of the exclusion if:

  • They exclude the child for more than five (5) days.
  • It would result in your child missing a public examination or a national curriculum test.

Note: What if the exclusion is for five (5) days or fewer? In this case, you can still ask the governors to hear your views. Even so, they will be unable to overturn the decision made by the headteacher.

Challenging Permanent Exclusion

Within 15 days of child expulsion, the school governors will hold a review. You may attend the meeting. If the permanent exclusion is upheld you can request an independent review. Your local council conducts the review or the school
academy trust. The governors will inform you of the correct steps.

The governors may not overturn the decision. If you are still unhappy you can enquire whether your case got conducted properly. The different types of schools determines
who to approach:

  • The Local Government Ombudsman for state schools.
  • The Education Funding Agency for academies or free schools.

Discrimination and Complaints

If you believe your child is being discriminated against you can go to court or a tribunal. The time limit for making a claim is six months after the beginning of the

As a rule, the school complaints procedure handles most of any other grievances that you may have. But, you can also contact EASS for further help and

Equality Advisory Support Service Helpline
Telephone: 0808 800 0082
Telephone: 0808 800 0084
Monday to Friday: 9am to 7pm
Saturday: 10am to 2pm
Check call charges to 0808 numbers.

EASS Helpline

School Search Rules

Search Conducted Without Your Child’s Consent

What if the school believes a child is carrying prohibited items? In fact, they can search them with or without the child’s consent. The list of prohibited items include:

  • Any items already banned in the school rules.
  • Dangerous or offensive weapons or explosives (e.g. knuckle dusters, knives, fireworks).
  • Alcoholic drinks or illegal drugs.
  • Stolen goods or anything that has been, or is likely to be, used to cause injury or commit an offence.
  • Tobacco products (such as cigarettes, vapor containing nicotine).
  • Pornographic images of any kind. This also applies to tabloid topless female pictures and any extreme adult material.

Note: In most cases, the school will confiscate these items after searching a child. But, they do have the option to return them.

Legal Requirements of Searching a Pupil

As a rule, two people will be in attendance for a search. One person will conduct the actual search and the other acts as a witness. The person conducting the search should be the same sex as your child. Wherever possible, the witness
should also be of the same sex as the child.

Schools cannot force a child to remove clothing, other than some outer clothing (e.g. an overcoat). If the member of staff believes the child poses an immediate risk to others, they can conduct a search. This applies even if they are
alone and of the opposite sex.

School Metal Detectors

All schools can ask pupils to pass through a metal detector. The school does not need suspicion that the child is carrying a weapon. If a child refuses to get scanned, the school can stop them from entering the premises.

How to Complain about School Searches

Contact the headmaster if you want to complain about the search of your child. You can also request to have a copy of the school complaints procedure if you are still unsatisfied.

School Discipline and Exclusion Rules in the United Kingdom