Quick-Guide: the Headteacher's Power to Withdraw an Exclusion

This Quick-Guide covers the law and practice that governs how a headteacher can and should exercise their discretion to withdraw an exclusion.

This Quick-Guide covers:

  1. A headteacher's power to withdraw an exclusion;
  2. The law providing direction on the exercise of that power.

1. A headteacher's power to withdraw an exclusion

Only a headteacher can impose an exclusion. At Regulation 24 of the School Exclusions Regulations, the governors must meet to consider any permanent exclusion An exclusion that results in the young person being removed from the school register and barred from the school’s campus indefinitely. and any fixed term exclusion that would take the total number of days that the young person has been excluded to 15 or more in one term.

The Exclusions Guidance Statutory guidance to schools, governors and local authorities on the law and process for excluding, and reviewing exclusions. The 2017 edition of the guidance is the current version. states at Paragraph 5 that:

The head teacher may withdraw an exclusion that has not been reviewed by the governing board.

The headteacher retains this power up to the point the governors meet after hearing evidence. They do not lose it at the beginning of the hearing. This means that if new information comes to light during the hearing, the governors can be asked to adjourne so that the headteacher can withdraw the exclusion even though the hearing has started.

2. The law providing direction on the exercise of that power

The law that restricts a headteacher's power to exclude in the first place continues to bind them if they are asked to withdraw an exclusion. This means that if the exclusion appears, after the fact, to breach equalities principals, human rights law, public law or exclusions law the headteacher must withdraw it, even if it did not appear to breach these provisions at the time it was imposed.