top of page

Suspension and Exclusions

All about exclusions and suspensions

What is a suspension?

A suspension, where a pupil is temporarily removed from the school, is an essential behaviour management tool that should be set out within a school’s behaviour policy.

  • A pupil may be suspended for one or more fixed periods (up to a maximum of 45 school days in a single academic year).

  • A suspension does not have to be for a continuous period.

  • A suspension may be used to provide a clear signal of what is unacceptable behaviour as part of the school’s behaviour policy and show a pupil that their current behaviour is putting them at risk of permanent exclusion.

  • Where suspensions are becoming a regular occurrence for a pupil, headteachers and schools should consider whether suspension alone is an effective sanction for the pupil and whether additional strategies need to be put in place to address behaviour.

  • A suspension can also be for parts of the school day. For example, if a pupil’s behaviour at lunchtime is disruptive, they may be suspended from the school premises for the duration of the lunchtime period.  Lunchtime suspensions are counted as half a school day in determining whether a governing board meeting is triggered.

  • The law does not allow for extending a suspension or ‘converting’ a suspension into a permanent exclusion. In exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light, a further suspension may be issued to begin immediately after the first period ends; or a permanent exclusion may be issued to begin immediately after the end

Education during a suspension

It is important that during a suspension, pupils still receive their education. For children in care, Barnet expects first day provision to be in place. This might be live teaching delivered virtually, tuition from an agency or temporary placement in Alternative Provision.

For all other children, headteachers should ensure that work is set and marked for pupils during the first five school days of a suspension. This can include utilising any online pathways such as Google Classroom or Oak National Academy.

The school’s legal duties to pupils with disabilities or special educational needs remain in force, for example, to make reasonable adjustments in how they support disabled pupils during this period.

Any time a pupil is sent home due to disciplinary reasons and asked to log on or utilise online pathways should always be recorded as a suspension.

What a is a permanent exclusion?

A permanent exclusion is when a pupil is no longer allowed to attend a school (unless the pupil is reinstated). The decision to exclude a pupil permanently should only be taken:

  • in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy; and

  • where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others such as staff or pupils in the school.

Work should be set and marked for pupils during the first five school days where the pupil will not be attending alternative provision. Any appropriate referrals to support services or notifying key workers (such as a pupil’s social worker) should also be considered. On Day 1 for children in care or Day 6 for all other children, appropriate full time education must be in place

Schools should inform the social worker of any suspension or exclusion and inform the Virtual School as well, if the child is in care.

Off-rolling and unlawful exclusions

It would is unlawful to exclude a pupil because:

- they have SEN or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet

-  for a reason such as academic attainment/ability; or the failure of a pupil to meet specific conditions before they are reinstated, such as to attend a reintegration meeting.

If any of these unlawful exclusions are carried out and lead to the deletion of a pupil’s name from the register, this is known as ‘off-rolling’.

An informal or unofficial exclusion, such as sending a pupil home ‘to cool off’, is unlawful when it does not follow the formal school exclusion process and regardless of whether it occurs with the agreement of parents.

A further example of off-rolling would be exercising undue influence over a parent to remove their child from the school under the threat of a permanent exclusion and encouraging them to choose Elective Home Education or to find another school place.

Pupils with EHCPs

If a pupil with an EHC Plan is to receive a fixed term exclusion/suspension the school must always inform the pupil’s SEN case worker. If the need to use fixed term exclusion persists then the school should consider calling an Urgent Annual Review.

If a pupil with an EHCP is at risk of permanent exclusion, the school should follow the DFE guidance and work with the local authority to avoid the exclusion. This would involve liaison with the school’s SEN case worker and calling an urgent Annual Review to identify that the placement has broken down and an alternative educational setting needs to be explored.

Reintegration after a suspension or off-site direction

Schools should support pupils to reintegrate successfully into school life and full-time education following a suspension or period of off-site direction. They should design a reintegration strategy that:

- offers the pupil a fresh start

- helps them understand the impact of their behaviour on themselves and others

- teaches them to how meet the high expectations of behaviour in line with the school culture

- fosters a renewed sense of belonging within the school community; and builds engagement with learning.


The reintegration meeting is an important place to communicate this. Meetings should ideally include the pupils' parents/carers and social worker if the child is in care. should be clearly communicated at a reintegration meeting before or at the beginning of the pupil’s return to school.

N.B. A pupil should not be prevented from returning to a mainstream classroom if parents are unable or unwilling to attend a reintegration meeting.

 A part-time timetable should not be used to manage a pupil’s behaviour and must only be in place for the shortest time necessary. See Part-time time table section for more information

Schools can consider a range of measures to enable the pupil’s successful reintegration which can include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining regular contact during the suspension or off-site direction and welcoming the pupil back to school;

  • Daily contact with a designated pastoral professional in-school;

  • Use of a report card with personalised targets leading to personalised rewards;

  • Ensuring the pupil follows an equivalent curriculum during their suspension or off-site direction or receives academic support upon return to catch up on any lost progress;

  • Planned pastoral interventions;

  • Mentoring by a trusted adult or a local mentoring charity;

  • Regular reviews with the pupil and parents to praise progress being made and raise and address any concerns at an early stage;

  • Informing the pupil, parents and staff of potential external support.

This document provides a guide to the legislation that governs the suspension and permanent exclusion of pupils from school. It also includes the use of behavioural strategies such as managed moves and directing pupils off-site to improve behaviour to help prevent a suspension or permanent exclusion. The document also provides statutory guidance to social workers and Virtual School Heads (VSHs) who must have regard when carrying out their functions in relation to suspension and permanent exclusions.

This document is written by Barnet to support both primary and secondary schools with alternatives to suspensions.

You can find more information on the BELS website.

bottom of page