parents’ guide to internal exclusions (England)

Internal exclusion is where the pupil remains on the school premises but doesn’t go to all the same lessons as other students. It doesn’t have to be reported to the Government as part of the school’s exclusion statistics (where a child is kept OUT of school).

An indication of the extent of this practice can be seen from advertisements for Internal Exclusion Officers who may come from a youth work or administration background rather than being a qualified teacher Recruitment 1, Recruitment 2, Recruitment 3 , Recruitment 4

4 out of 5 secondary school pupils who are permanently excluded have previously been suspended – known as a fixed period exclusion.

Moreover, the single biggest reason for permanent exclusion from school is “persistent disruptive behaviour.”

Parents should be aware that the school probably won’t issue a fixed period exclusion until various other measures have already been tried. The full extent of “behaviour management” might not be apparent until parents receive a huge file after the child has been permanently excluded and by then of course it’s too late.

For the worst case scenario reason, if for no other, I would always advise parents to get to grips with the school’s practice regarding internal exclusions. It is also important to be clear what is actually allowed by law, as I set out at the end of this post.

Parents who contact me feel they have no choice but to home educate in order to avoid a permanent exclusion. They describe how the child doesn’t organise him/herself to be in the right place at the right time, especially where there are timetable or room variations. One young person can’t stay in segregation for the required time, another keeps gravitating towards school even though he should be staying away during a temporary exclusion.

Failure to comply with sanctions just means more and more sanctions and a longer and longer record of disciplinary breaches.

Many parents described how their child’s problems at school were quickly ascribed to problematic home lives, poor parenting or single motherhood. The majority of parents felt judged and often treated with condescension by schools. [Link]

Sometimes it’s possible to find a comprehensive explanation of various sanctions on the school’s website, but in other cases it’s hard to grasp the potential long term significance of pupils being kept out of certain lessons, especially when they might want to avoid these lessons anyway. (Before I looked into this, I thought that pupils who were struggling with particular subjects could only avoid certain lessons by skipping school.)

This Behaviour Policy explains that parking “refers to the procedure whereby a student is removed for disruptive behaviour from the class by the class teacher to a space within a Department where they can work. This strategy is managed by the Head of Department by rota. A parking rota is produced by the HOD detailing for teaching staff (including cover supervisors) where and when students are to be parked. The rota is to be visible for all staff in every classroom. The space in which the student works can be another classroom or facility where supervision can be given.”

This Behaviour Policy goes into considerable detail about parking:

If a range of strategies have been used with no effect, the student should be parked. [If a serious incident occurs, refer to incident chart]
 Student should be parked with appropriate work and a 5 W’s sheet.
 It may be necessary to call the Assistant DOL to park the student in an identified class.
 Student should hand in work and 5 W’s to class teacher at end of lesson.
 Teacher and student have a ‘learning conversation’ as soon as possible after the event. Class teacher applies appropriate sanction (e.g. detention) and makes sure they reconnect and repair situation before the next lesson. It is the responsibility of the class teacher to make this happen. However, support of TLC, Assistant DOL, Form Tutor, DoL, SLT, should be sought, depending on severity of incident.
 Class teacher completes negative incident form online. If an incident occurs that requires immediate action, a paper incident form should be completed as soon as possible.
 If a student has to be removed from ‘parking class’, the Behaviour for Learning Co-ordinator should be called. The student will then be taken to TLC, DOL or SLT depending on incident.
 For students who persistently disrupt a lesson within a department, and are continually parked, then the TLC needs to speak with the student and put into practice intervention strategies. (see TLC Role)
N.B: There will be a timetable for parking on a whole school basis.
Parking should be proximal rather than departmental.”

In addition to “parking”, pupils might routinely spend time out of lessons segregated from other pupils. This could be for a short detention, or for the whole school day. There are various names for this such as “Support Base”, “Reflection Room”, “being placed in the retreat”, “Internal Seclusion Room”, “Isolation Room”, or the “Planning Room“.

This link sets out what pupil might do wrong and lists the consequences as follows:

verbal warning
Moved within class
Removed from class to discuss incident
30 minute detention
60 minute detention
One day in RR [Internal exclusion is called ‘Reflection Room’ or RR]
Extended day in RR
Fixed Period Exclusion

In addition to legal exclusion, there is what the National Autistic Society refers to as grey areas of exclusion:

Informal exclusion is where the school sends a child home “to cool off” or asks parents to pick the child up early. A school might also tell parents not to send the child in to school for a while. This is against the law.

‘Informal’ or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending pupils home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be formally recorded.
Government Exclusions Guidance 2012

Another type of illegal exclusion – also known as offrolling or coerced deregistration – is where the child keeps getting into trouble in the run-up to GCSEs and it can feel as though the school wants parents to snap and take the children out to home educate. (This is often when I become involved as parents ask me about home education.)

Schools do sometimes use part-time or reduced timetables. This is not illegal. However, Government advice on attendance published in October 2014 says this should only be short term and use very sparingly.

Can a school place a pupil on a part-time timetable?
As a rule, no. All pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. In very exceptional circumstances there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs. For example where a medical condition prevents a pupil from attending full-time education and a part-time timetable is considered as part of a re-integration package. A part-time timetable must not be treated as a long-term solution. Any pastoral support programme or other agreement must have a time limit by
which point the pupil is expected to attend full-time or be provided with alternative provision.
In agreeing to a part-time timetable a school has agreed to a pupil being absent from school for part of the week or day and therefore must record it as authorised absence.
Government Advice on Attendance 2014

Alternatively, schools might arrange a managed move. This can be presented as a fresh start where a pupil might be at a different school for a shorter or longer time. (Schools trying to avoid permanent exclusions do tend to make more use of managed moves, and I will be blogging about this shortly.)

A pupil can also transfer to another school as part of a ‘managed move’ where this occurs with the consent of the parties involved, including the parents. However, the threat of exclusion must never be used to influence parents to remove their child from the school.
Government Exclusions Guidance 2012

Children’s Commissioner on Illegal Exclusions
6.7 per cent of schools have sent children home for disciplinary reasons without recording it as an exclusion; if these were evenly spread across the country, it would represent 1600 schools, or to put it into context, an average of ten schools in every local authority area
2.7 per cent of schools have sent children with statements of SEN home when their carer, classroom support or teaching assistant is unavailable; if these were evenly spread across the country, it would represent 650 schools, or an average of more than four schools in every local authority
2.1 per cent of schools have recorded pupils as authorised absent or educated elsewhere when the school has in fact encouraged them not to come into school; if these were evenly spread across the country, it would represent approximately 540 schools, or an average of more than three in every local authority
1.8 per cent of schools have encouraged parents to take their children out of school and educate them at home without recording it as an exclusion; if these were evenly spread across the country, it would represent 192 schools, or an average of more than one in every local authority

Parents Guide to School Exclusion
Always Someone Else’s Problem. Children’s Commissioner Report on Illegal Exclusion 2013

Click to access FINAL_Always_Someone_Elses_Problem.pdf

Permanent Exclusion
GOV.UK: “Permanent exclusion means your child is expelled”
Fixed Period Exclusion
GOV.UK: “A fixed period exclusion is where your child is temporarily removed [suspended] from school”
2012 Exclusions Guidance

Click to access Exclusion_from_maintained_schools__academies_and_pupil_referral_units.pdf

Exclusions Statistics 2013-14 published July 2015
My website page on exclusions


17 thoughts on “parents’ guide to internal exclusions (England)

  1. Pingback: parents’ guide to school exclusions (England) | edyourself

  2. Pingback: alternative provision to avert permanent school exclusion | edyourself

  3. Pingback: Ofsted monitoring school exclusions | edyourself

  4. Pingback: school exclusions, no going back | edyourself

  5. Jo

    Why was a school allowed to permanently exclude my child with special needs and statement, when the new guidance 2015 was in effect, until it was withdrawn by gov.but school continued to use in governers meeting and ipr, in april and may, ipr saying school won’t pay 4 k, if they don’t reinstate him as the school was following wrong guidance?? No alternative education provided either. Education system is a discriminative mess!!!


    1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

      Hi. I totally agree with you that it’s discriminatory. The issue of using the withdrawn January Guidance is separate and I’d recommend you contact the School Exclusion Project or Just For Kids Law about it. On the other points you raise, have a look at this blog post I wrote the other day. 1/ Schools ARE allowed to exclude children with statements under the current 2012 Guidance; 300 of the 5000 pupils excluded did have a statement. 2/ I think you are still within the timeframe to take a case to the First Tier Tribunal for disability discrimination, and 3/ If the LA has not made a satisfactory offer of alternative provision you can make a formal complaint and you can also get the Ombudsman to look at it, you can also remind the council that Ofsted is very interested in the failure of LAs to arrange alternative provision, as I blogged here


  6. Jo

    Yes, I’ve been in contact with exclusion project, they represented me in ipr,when school were using withdrawn exclusion guidance, yes obundusman are investigating council for not providing alternative education,my child was permanently excluded in January and has been left with no education since, lm going to be home educating him now, just got to approved by county panel as he has a statement, he is 14 years old, been illegally sent home on numerous of occasions and isolated from peers and sent to pru when he was 11, as the school changed to academy. Thanks for the links


    1. Jo

      The council just never provided any education after permanent exclusion, despite saying they was going to, they kept putting it off,saying it was half term, it would be sorted out after, then easter term, then still no provision, so I contacted obundusman, the council then did offer another mainstream placement, but my child is to anxious, and dosent want to go back to a different school, as been at home for eight months, now my only option is home education, it was suggested by la I met with elective home education officer, so I’ve had a professionals help,to change statement to home education not named mainstream school, for panel?


  7. Fiona Nicholson Post author

    Home ed might be the very best thing but the council does owe your son an education after he’s been excluded – whether you take up the offer or not – and not just in a big class, it could be online/ blended learning or home tutor if he’s too anxious to go into a school. Sounds like you’ve been really badly let down.


    1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

      Hi, they “should” keep you informed, but if he manages to stay in the alternative location on the school site without incurring further sanctions (ie if it doesn’t escalate) then you might not necessarily find out every single detail. If you suspect it’s happening, best ask the school.


  8. Raquel

    How much / how many exclusions of this kind are too much?

    Would anybody “care” how much time a child spends out of the classroom if they are in school and have been set work on the computer?

    What are justifiable reasons / unjustifiable reasons for internal exclusions? It seems, having read the guidance, that it’s intended to be an immediate consequence. Does this mean that it should not be “booked in” for another day as a punishment?

    If the incidents leading to the exclusion occur out of the classroom (for instance at lunchtime), where is the logic in excluding the child from the classroom?


  9. Nigel Gill

    Hi Fiona

    My child has been suspended for 5 days and had has an internal exclusion for 5 days after that has been sanctioned at another school within their trust. The school is 10 miles away and I have work related commitments and the child’s younger siblings that I have to care for during the times I have requested his internal exclusion to be carried out in his normal school but the are refusing me. What do I do ?


    1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

      Hi, I am sorry I don’t know what recourse you have in this situation, especially with an academy trust. The latest guidance on exclusions is here but it doesn’t cover internal exclusions My only thought is that it might count as an off-site direction where a certain procedure has to be followed (set out in the guidance linked above) but I don’t know for sure whether this applies to MATs.


      1. Nigel Gill

        Hi Fiona

        Thank you for your quick response can you please look into the matter further for me it would be greatly appreciated if so.


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