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Exclusion from school – your rights

© Govan Law Centre’s Children’s Rights Project

Schools have no informal right to ‘suspend’ pupils or send them home. If a school wants to remove the pupil either temporarily (‘suspend’ them) or permanently (‘expel’ them), they must use formal exclusion procedures.

Pupils can only be excluded in very limited circumstances, and there are strict procedural rules which schools must follow. A failure to follow these rules could result in an exclusion being set aside.

It is worth bearing in mind that all temporary exclusions which a pupil has had will be taken into account if the education authority are considering permanently excluding the pupil at a later date. It is therefore worthwhile considering appealing against even very short exclusions or suspensions.

When can a pupil be excluded from school?

There are only two situations when a pupil can be excluded from school:

  • If the parent refuses or fails to comply with the rules and disciplinary requirements of the school or refuses or fails to allow the pupil to comply with the rules and regulations or;

  • If it would be seriously detrimental to order and discipline in the school or the educational well-being of the pupils there, if the pupil was allowed to continue their attendance at the school.

If your case does not fall into one of the above categories, you may be entitled to have the exclusion set aside by an appeal committee.

What procedures should the education authority follow?

On the same day as the pupil is excluded, the school should speak to the parent or write to them (or to the pupil him or herself if over 16) and tell them that the pupil has been excluded, and give them a date, time and place for a meeting to discuss the exclusion. This meeting must be within 7 days of the day after the pupil was excluded.

Within 8 days following the exclusion, the education authority must write to the parent (or the pupil him or herself if over 16) telling them:

  • What the reasons for the exclusion are;

  • If there are any conditions which the parent or pupil will have to comply with for the pupil to be re-admitted to the school;

  • Of the right to appeal against the exclusion and the address where the appeal should be sent.

N.B: The education authority do not have to send out this written intimation if the pupil is re-admitted to the school within 7 days or the parent (or pupil him or herself if over 16) tells the head teacher that they do not wish to appeal against the exclusion.

If the education authority do not follow these procedures, you may be entitled to have the exclusion set aside by an appeal committee.

How do I appeal against an exclusion?

Appeals must be made in writing. The education authority can tell you who you should address your appeal to. If it is in relation to a Glasgow school, you would write to the ‘Clerk to the Appeals Committee’ at the City Chambers.

If you are considering appealing against an exclusion, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible, as the procedures can be complicated.

Written by Sandra McGuire
Children’s Rights Solicitor
Govan Law Centre
47 Burleigh Street
Glasgow G51 3LB


The Children’s Rights Project is funded by the Greater Govan Social Inclusion Partnership and the Scottish Executive.