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Special Educational Needs: Pupil Exclusions

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4547, tabled on 30 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have been informally excluded in the last academic year.

Answered on

8 December 2021

The department does not hold figures on the number of pupils who have been informally excluded from school. Informal exclusions are unlawful and therefore there is no mechanism for recording them.

The government is considering the National Autistic Society School Report 2021, which provides helpful insights into this practice. Further information on this report can be found at:,7MFOP,63DHOU,V1NPQ,1&mc_cid=cd260af2f9&mc_eid=b460e5a1f.

The department makes clear in the ‘Statutory Suspensions and Permanent Exclusions’ guidance that ‘informal’ or ‘unofficial’ suspensions, such as sending pupils home ‘to cool off’, are unlawful, regardless of whether they occur with the agreement of parents or carers. Any suspension of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be in line with the relevant legislation and be recorded as a suspension.

The department will shortly be consulting on the ‘Behaviour in Schools’ guidance and the ‘Suspensions and Permanent Exclusions’ guidance. These will equip headteachers to create calm, orderly, safe and supportive school environments where exclusions are only ever used lawfully and as a last resort.