Where to Get Help After a School Exclusion – A Student’s Opinion

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Exclusions can happen for a number of reasons; you may even know someone who has been excluded. It can be a stressful situation for some, as they realise their mistake and want to make amends. You’ve received a letter of exclusion. What happens next? There are different types of exclusions, so your options you have after being excluded are dependent on the type of exclusion you have received.

The two types of exclusions are suspensions and permanent exclusions. You will return to school after a suspension, usually after around 5 days. Permanent exclusions, on the other hand, mean that you cannot return to your school and your name is completely removed from the system.

Now that you have the brief surface level answer, continue reading the article to find out more detail about where to get help after a school exclusion. 

Where to Find Help After You are Permanently Excluded From School?

After being excluded or suspended from school there are institutions that can provide support. The school itself will communicate with you and your parents informing you of the next steps. They usually provide some work for the student to be getting on with in the first few days of exclusion.

If the exclusion is more serious the local authority has a duty to provide suitable full-time alternative education. This will most likely be in a pupil referral unit (PRU), or an alternative provision. The PRU acts as a temporary school for the excluded student where they can continue their education until a new school is found. For more extreme circumstances the PRU could be the permanent solution.

The government and local authorities have schemes in place to help students and parents find a new school. Visit this website to get further guidance after a school exclusion.

There are many other charities and institutions out there that can provide you with good advice and support. Child Law Advice is a charity that has lots of information and guidance, I recommend you check them out here.

Childline is another great place students can go to received support and advice. They have a phone line open where students can ring in and talk to a support worker to get advice. You can also get support on Childline’s website here.

What Happens When You are Suspended From School?

Suspensions usually last for around 5 to 10 days. Sometimes you can get a 3-day exclusion. This entirely depends on your school and their specific rules on suspensions. 

You cannot be suspended for more than 45 days in an academic year. 

Once the exclusion is finished, you will return back to school. You will probably have a meeting with your headteacher and your parents to discuss your suspension and what the next steps will be.  

Your behaviour may be monitored for a week or two to make sure that you settle back in smoothly and so that you don’t get suspended again. 

What Happens When You are Permanently Excluded From School?

Permanent exclusions mean that you are no longer a student at your school. This is also called being expelled. This will involve in having to find a new school, which can be difficult especially if this is not your first exclusion within the last 2 years. 

Usually, you may be suspended before permanently excluded. However, it may not be the case if it was a one-off action that caused the exclusion. 

No matter whether you have received a permanent exclusion or suspension, you will receive a letter from your school outlining why you have been excluded. It will say how long you have been excluded for and provide a way in which your parents could challenge the exclusion. It’s important to ask your school for a letter if you haven’t been given one, as informal exclusions are not allowed.  

After being excluded from your school you usually have a 5-day exclusion where you would stay at home following the same rules as if you were suspended. Then on the sixth day, the local authority has a duty to provide suitable full-time alternative education. This will most likely be in a pupil referral unit (PRU), or an alternative provision.  

However, local authorities do not have to provide alternative education for children who are below or above compulsory school age (Below the age of 4 and above the age of 16).

How Do You Find a New School After Being Excluded?

There are two main ways of finding a new school. These are via the fair access protocol or applying for a school yourself. 

The fair access protocol (FAP) is a local agreement for getting children without a school place back into school as quickly as possible. If you’re permanently excluded, you will be covered by this. You can be put under the fair access protocol even if a school is full.  

You can also apply for a school yourself under the normal admissions system, and in most cases, appeal if the school is full.  

However, there are some cases when a school may refuse admission even if it has a place available, these are: 

  • If you have been permanently excluded twice within 2 years of the last exclusion 
  • Or for children with challenging behaviour making in year admissions.  

But, if you apply to multiple schools, you should be able to find a spot relatively quickly. Hopefully within a few weeks. Whilst you are carrying out your school search, you will probably be attending a PRU with other students. 

What’s a Pupil Referral Unit?

A pupil referral unit (PRU) is a type of school that caters for children who aren’t able to attend a mainstream school. Pupils are often referred there is they need greater care and support than their school can provide.  

A pupil referral unit is not only for permanently excluded children, but other pupils who may also attend a PRU are students who might be the following: 

  • Experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties, including problems with anger, mental health issues and school phobia or refusal  
  • Experiencing severe bullying  
  • Diagnosed with special educational needs (SEN), or in the process of getting a diagnosis 
  • Suffering from a short, or possibly long-term, illness that makes mainstream school unsuitable  
  • A new starter who missed out on a school place 
  • Pregnant or young mothers 

Some pupils will have all their lessons at a PRU, while others split their time between the mainstream school where they’re registered and a PRU.  

A PRU is not a long-term solution for pupils who have more severe or serious educational needs or disabilities. Also, PRUs tend to be staffed with highly qualified and experienced teachers who have expertise in dealing with special educational needs as well as other emotional and behavioural difficulties. 

Pupils will have often access to support from different experts and qualified people such as social workers, educational psychologists and counsellors who can help them with their problems.   

The classes will often be much smaller, and each pupil may be given more attention from teachers. However, a drawback is that disruptive behaviour is often the norm, which can be difficult for some pupils. The entire curriculum is not taught due to the lack of staff, so the main focus is English, Maths and Science.

Can You Challenge Your School Exclusion?

Yes you, but more likely your parents, could appeal the exclusion and negotiate for an alternative.

You will need to ask for a meeting with the headteacher to do so. Also, it is important to know that headteachers are the only teacher that can issue a suspension or permanent exclusion. However other teachers such as the head of year can provide evidence to support the suspension or exclusion. 

If your parents decide to go with this, then they could ask for: 

  • A managed move to another school 
  • If you’re aged between 14-16, a flexible curriculum or alternative provision 
  • Additional support for you 

If it is a one-off offence and you have not otherwise been in trouble, then a letter from you asking to be given another chance may help. However, it’s important to understand that the headteacher does not have to change their decision even if you or your parents think it is wrong or unfair. This website has more information on challenging school exclusions. 

What Should You do Whilst You’re Excluded From School?

The first thing to mention is that you must make sure that you remain at home during school hours. This is because if someone sees you, your parents may be fined or prosecuted. It would simply be a holiday if you could go anywhere during school hours. 

The most likely option, that also makes the most sense, is that your school will give you some work to do at home whilst excluded. This could be outlined in the letter you receive when you get excluded. If not, then you might get some work emailed to you or it could be on your school website. 

You should check all 3, or if you have a homework system or website that your school uses, you could also check that too. If you don’t receive anything, or are unsure of what to do, it’s important to ask as you wouldn’t want to get into any trouble by not completing the right work. 

Ideally, you would be following your school timetable from home and doing work from the current lessons you would be in. But, of course, this isn’t always the case. As long as you’re not wandering around the streets during school hours and getting on with something productive, then you should be okay. 

If you are excluded for more than 5 days, the school should arrange a suitable full-time education from the sixth day, for example: a pupil referral unit as mentioned above. Until this is arranged hang tight and try completing your schoolwork.

What’s My Advice if You’ve Been Excluded? Student to Student

I thought it would be useful to include some of my own advice in this article. Although I have not been excluded myself, I know people who have been permanently excluded (and suspended) and have either come to or left my school.  

Firstly, I know exclusions can be tough, so I think it’s really important to make the transitions to and from suspensions and exclusions as smooth as possible.  

Apologise

I would firstly apologise, whether this be by email, a letter or in person. I think it’s really important to move on from the situation in a good state of mind, both for you and your teachers. Even if you’re not returning to the school and not challenging the exclusion, I still think it’s important that you have some closure before leaving. I think apologising is very important for suspensions especially, this is because you want to show the teachers that you know what you’ve done wrong, and that you deserve to come back.  

If it was a one-time offence that got you permanently excluded, I recommend asking for a second chance in your apology. Doing this by letter would be a good idea. If you have good attendance and punctuality, or for example, you always complete homework on time, you could mention these things as it would help to support your case of why the headteacher should give you a second chance. 

Make sure to not come off too arrogant or rude by forcing the headteacher to give you a second chance, list a few examples and keep it professional and not too long.  

Look to the Future

My final piece of advice is to stay positive. It may be difficult as you are going through a tough time but remember that there are people you can talk to. Whether that be parents, student support institutions (Childline), or counsellors, they will always be happy to talk to you. 

If you’re not someone who likes to talk in that type of way, you could post a thought on the student room website, where there are thousands of students that are willing to talk about absolutely anything! (you could also make some new friends on there too) 

Take your exclusion as an opportunity to reflect on yourself and how you can improve to make sure you don’t get excluded again. Perhaps if you have some extra time, you could start a new hobby, do an online course, or even get some virtual work experience done. It will make you look great if you use any spare time to do something productive! 

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