The Department for Education (DfE) has produced new Exclusion Guidance which outlines the procedures for all suspensions and permanent exclusions. It applies to all maintained, academy and free schools, plus alternative provision academies and pupil referral units, and is applicable from 1 September 2022.
The key updates are as follows:
- Headteachers may cancel an exclusion that has not been reviewed by the governing board. This practice is sometimes known as withdrawing/rescinding a suspension or permanent exclusion. If this occurs, parents, the governing board and the local authority should be notified, and if relevant, the social worker and Virtual School Head (VSH). Further information about other actions that should take place after an exclusion is cancelled is set out in paragraph 13.
- When headteachers suspend or permanently exclude a pupil, they must, without delay, notify parents. Legislative changes mean that if a pupil has a social worker, or if a pupil is looked-after, the headteacher must now, also without delay after their decision, notify the social worker and/or VSH, as applicable.
- When headteachers suspend or permanently exclude a pupil, they must also notify the local authority, without delay. Legislative changes mean that this must be done regardless of the length of a suspension.
- Guidance on the role of a social worker and VSH, during governing board meetings and IRP meetings.
- Guidance on managed moves, what they are and how they should be used.
- Clarified guidance on the use of off-site direction as a short term measure that can be used as part of a school’s behaviour management strategy.
- Further guidance on the practice of involving pupils so that any excluded pupil is enabled and encouraged to participate at all stages of the suspension or permanent exclusion process, considering their age and ability to understand.
- Guidance for governing boards to ensure that they review data to consider the level of pupil moves and the characteristics of pupils who have been permanently excluded to ensure the sanction is only used when necessary, as a last resort.
Schools may also find the following DCC document useful in clarifying legal advice associated with pupils with exclusion and pupils with SEND.
1. Permanent exclusion
There are two key aspects to notifying the local authority of a permanent exclusion. On the first day of the permanent exclusion, all schools (regardless of which school management information system is used) will need to:
- Telephone the Inclusion Team tel: 01629 535802 to inform the local authority of the start date of the exclusion, reason for exclusion, confirm parental contact details, and confirm deadlines/timescales for governing board meetings.
- Add the exclusion details on your school management information system (MIS) and complete the Permanent exclusion notification spreadsheet and send to the Inclusion Team.
By contacting the Inclusion Team on the first day, it has the additional benefit of ensuring that schools are clear of the DfE exclusion guidance and processes from the outset and facilitates the Inclusion Pathways Team (IPT) being able to provide fulltime education by the sixth day of the head teacher’s decision to exclude.
Please note that it is important to contact the Inclusion Team direct if a permanent exclusion is either withdrawn (retracted) by the headteacher or the governing board has reinstated the pupil. The Inclusion Team can advise school both on exclusion processes and recording on your school MIS.
2. Suspensions (formally fixed period exclusions)
All suspensions need inputting into the school management information system (MIS) without delay and to enable key agencies and the local authority to be alerted. Schools will need to refer to their specific MIS handbooks/service provider for advice on recording suspensions on their school systems.
Non RM Integris schools
The local authority has devised the attached suspensions template which needs to be completed as soon as the suspension occurs and returned to the Inclusion Team direct. Guidance notes entitled Suspensions template instructions have been produced to assist with schools' completion of the spreadsheet and to ensure that it can be imported into local authority systems.
RM Integris schools
Schools who use the RM Integris MIS should record suspension and exclusion details via the Behaviour Module. Guidance to input exclusion data on RM Integris is available on S4S. Please note you must be logged in to access the documents. If information is entered correctly and as soon as the suspension or exclusion occurs, the data is automatically collected by the local authority. RM Integris schools do not need to send a separate report for suspensions, and only advise the Inclusion Team for a permanent exclusion (as above). Please be aware that RM Integris schools will need to have a Data Sharing Agreement between the school and the local authority in order for the data to import.
Exclusion recording and attendance codes
Full exclusion data (including start/end date (where relevant), reasons, and length of exclusion) need to be entered regularly into school MIS. The attendance details will also need to reflect the pupil’s exclusion status i.e. attendance code ‘E'. Please note it is not sufficient to only enter the attendance code ‘E’ as it does not provide the local authority with enough specific exclusion details to meet DfE requirements.
General exclusion guidance/policy queries:
Sharon Neak Inclusion Team, ACRE
Tel: 01629 535802.
RM Integris Software queries:
School Training and Support Team
Tel: 01629 536789.