On this page you will find information and practical advice about school attendance and exclusions.

Attendance refers to when a pupil is not attending their school or setting but is expected to do so.

If the school or setting is telling you that your young person is not allowed to attend, then this is considered an exclusion.

 

Attendance

Some children struggle to attend school because of anxieties or difficulties that may be associated with their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

They may feel overwhelmed and have tantrums, physical complaints or be threatening to harm themselves if you make them go to school.

How should school help?

Schools have a legal duty under the Children’s and families Act 2014, to work with you to identify and support any special needs that your child may have.        

This means that if your child is struggling to attend school because of their SEND, their school should be working to offer appropriate support or to further investigate your child's SEND if not enough is known about it.    

They can also take advice from and make referrals to other external support service and teams.

What can i do?

If you think that your child doesn’t want to go to school because of their SEND, you could ask for a meeting with the school to discuss this. We can help you to prepare for a school meeting.        

If you feel that the school are not able to meet your child’s needs you can also consider an  EHC needs assessment.        

If your child already has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), it may need to be reviewed. For example, it may be that your child has developed new social, emotional or mental health needs that are not covered by the existing plan. We can help you to prepare for a review.

You could also speak to your child's doctor (GP) about your concerns. If the GP agrees that your child is not currently able to attend school, ask them for a letter, to give as evidence to the school or local authority for their non-attendance.

If your child is not attending school due to a long term medical or mental health condition, you can find further information and advice on our medical needs page.        

Attendance resources

Information in this section is not endorsed by Leeds Sendiass. We are not responsible for the content of sites or services offered by third parties.

You can find more links on our Useful SEND resource page.


Exclusions

If your child has been sent home from school and you have been told that you cannot send them back, then this must be recorded formally in writing as an exclusion. If the school does not wish to formally exclude, then your child is still legally allowed to attend.

If your child is sent home for lunch, even with your agreement, then this still needs to be recorded as a half day exclusion.

Exclusions can provide evidence that your child's needs are not being met in their current placement and that there could be some underlying SEND. This is why it is important that they are formally recorded.

What happens with a fixed term exclusion? 

Your child is not allowed to attend their school for a set number of days               

A pupil may be excluded up to a maximum of 45 days within a school year. After that, they may be permanently excluded.               

During the first five days of exclusion, your child should not be seen in a public place during school hours. It is your responsibility to arrange childcare or supervision.               

If the exclusion is for more than five days, then the governing body is responsible for providing some alternative education until your child is allowed to return to school.               

If your child has an EHCP, the governing body must speak to you about any proposed new placement. It might be that the EHCP will need to be reviewed               

At the end of the exclusion a re-integration meeting may be offered to discuss how to avoid exclusion happening again. Your child can then return to school.               

What happens with a permanent exclusion?

Your child is not allowed to return to their school or setting.               

It should only be used as a last resort when there has been either:               

  • a serious incident
  • repeated breaches of the schools behaviour policy
  • a risk to the education or welfare of other pupils

During the first five days of exclusion, your child should not be seen in a public place during school hours. It is your responsibility to arrange childcare or supervision.               

If they are of compulsory school age, the local authority has a duty to find them alternative education from the sixth day of the exclusion.               

If your child has an EHCP, the local authority must speak to you about the new proposed placement.               

What if i disagree with an exclusion?

If you disagree with either a fixed period or a permanent exclusion, you can 'make representations', which means attending a meeting to give your views about it to the governing body of the school or setting.               

Exclusions must be upheld by the governing body of the excluding school or setting. This means that they will review information about what has led to the decision to exclude and then choose to agree with it (uphold) or disagree with it (over-turn).               

If they disagree with the decision, then your child can return to their school and the exclusion will be removed from their record.

If they uphold the decision then the exclusion will take place. You could then ask for the decision to be reviewed by an Independent Review Panel (IRP).               

The IRP do not have the power to overturn an exclusion. They can help by instructing the governing body to review their decision.

Parents are allowed to request the presence of a SEND expert (such as an educational psychologist or specialist) at an IRP to provide support and advice. Your child does not need to be on the school SEND register or have an EHCP. They will not diagnose your child, but may be able to provide advice about how their SEND may be affecting their behaviour in school.

If the governing body do not over-turn a permanent exclusion after reviewing it again, they will be asked to pay an additional £4,000 above the cost of permanently excluding a pupil to the local authority.               

If you feel that the exclusion could be related to disability discrimination under the Equality act 2010, then you could instead make a claim to the first tier tribunal, who do have the power to overturn the exclusion and re-instate a pupil. Get help dealing with disability discrimination

What can I do?

You could ask for a meeting with the school to discuss your concerns. We can help you to prepare for a school meeting.

If you feel that your child's SEND maybe contributing to any behaviour that they are being excluded for, then you could consider whether an EHC needs assessment would be helpful.

If your child already has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), it may need to be reviewed. For example, it may be that your child has developed new social, emotional or mental health needs that are not covered by the existing plan. We can help you to prepare for a review.

Exclusion resources

Leeds Sendiass are not responsible for the content of sites or services offered by third parties.

You can find more links on our Useful SEND resource page.