The number of young people getting expelled from school in England has risen sharply.

It’s gone up from 4,630 three years ago to 5,800 last year, according to government figures.

So what should you do if it happens to you?

Eileen Lewis works for a charity called the Communities Empowerment Network, which helps excluded pupils in London.

She’s given us her advice.

The law

First, let’s look at the rules around being permanently excluded in England.

Schools are only supposed to expel pupils as a last resort and it should be because of your behaviour.

This means it can’t come down to whether you have learning difficulties or how academic you are.

It’s also illegal to discriminate against a student because of things like their sex or religion.

“A permanent exclusion is equal to giving up on that young person,” explains Eileen, “It’s usually not the answer.”


A pupil cries at school

Eileen thinks if you are expelled, the best thing to do first is see if your school will take you back.

All is not lost. Obviously it’s not ideal if you get excluded, but it certainly isn’t the end of the road.

Eileen Lewis

Communities Empowerment Network

“If you’re 15 or 16 then you’re focusing on your GCSEs, so things couldn’t be more crucial.

“It’s absolutely critical you get continuing education.”

She says you have a couple of opportunities to appeal the decision.

“If you appeal it then you give yourself a voice and you are empowered.”

Find a new school

If your appeal fails then, in theory, you should be able to find a new school to take you on.

But Eileen told us that if you’re sitting your GCSEs soon, this isn’t very realistic.

“Schools are under a lot of pressure. They know their children, they’ve got them registered, they can kind of predict their results.

“So if someone who’s been permanently excluded from somewhere else rocks up and asks for a place, schools are often reluctant to take them on.

“For pupils in year 10 or 11 it’s nigh on impossible to get a place at a fresh school.”

Make the best of things at a PRU

A pupil at work

If your appeal is unsuccessful, and you can’t find a new school, then your education becomes the responsibility of your local council.

Eileen says if you’re excluded late on in your school life, then it’s “highly probable” that you’ll end up in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).

“The general consensus is that PRUs offer second rate education compared to what you’d normally get.

“If you’re a bright pupil who’s doing well and you go to a PRU, suddenly you’re just doing the basics, maybe three or four subjects.”

But, she says it’s not the end of the world.

“Knuckle down, do your best, and make it clear to them what your intentions are.

“If you’re thinking of applying to college or sixth form, then let the PRU know.

“Ask them for a supporting letter, so that when you write your application it’s a bit different.

“It’s not just an application that says ‘yes’ under ‘have you ever been permanently excluded from school?’ – there’s a story there.”

What the government says

Pupil walks away

The Department for Education has told Newsbeat that permanent exclusions are “still very rare”.

“Every child should be able to learn without disruption,” a spokesperson said, “that’s why we’ve given head teachers more powers to tackle poor behaviour.

“[But] we have also announced plans to make schools responsible for securing alternative provision for excluded pupils.”

Find your own path

It’s also possible to get expelled from colleges and sixth forms, but Eileen’s advice is roughly the same: talk to the head teacher and try to get them to take you back.

If you can’t, then it’s still possible to make the best of things.

“All is not lost. Obviously it’s not ideal if you get excluded, but it certainly isn’t the end of the road.

“And it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve success, you are just going to do it by a different route.”

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Source: BBC