Attendance, Exclusions and Suspensions

Schools have the authority to suspend or permanently exclude a pupil on disciplinary grounds.  The Department for Education (DfE) guidance refers to schools as: maintained schools, pupil referral units, academy schools (including free schools, studio schools) and alternative provision academies (including alternative provisions free schools).

Suspensions were previously known as ‘fixed term exclusions’. DfE guidance was updated in March and June 2021 regarding the language used when referring to exclusions.

Only the headteacher has the power to exclude a pupil from school and there are two types of exclusion:


A suspension is where a child has temporarily been removed from school. Suspensions are usually for a short period including lunch-time suspensions. The pupil returns after the suspension period has expired. In cases of more than a day’s suspension, work should be set and marked. If a suspension is longer than five days school must arrange suitable full-time education from the sixth day of a suspension.

Permanent Exclusion

Permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort, 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 in the school. A permanent exclusion means the pupil cannot return to the school unless reinstated.


If a pupil is permanently excluded from school, the Local Authority (LA) has the duty to provide other suitable education. Together for Children delivers this service on behalf of Sunderland City Council. A pupil may be placed in another school or other suitable arrangements may be made.

If a child is suspended or permanently excluded, parents/carers may have the right to make representations to the school’s Governing Body. It is the governing body’s role to either decline to reinstate the pupil; or direct reinstatement. If a pupil has been permanently excluded and the governors decide to decline reinstatement of the pupil, parents/carers can request that the decision is reviewed by an Independent Review Panel.

Suspensions and permanent Exclusions – Together for Children

Informal exclusions | (IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice

What should I do if my child is excluded? | (IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice

Permanent exclusions | (IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice

Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England – Statutory guidance, Department for Education

School Discipline and Exclusions – Department for Education

ACE Education

National Autistic Society (NAS) Exclusion Service (England)

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