Children's Law Centre ‘Rights House’ 127-131 Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 1SH

Freephone Advice For Children and Young People
Call Chalky 0808 808 5678

Suspension and Expulsion from School


I feel I have been unfairly suspended from school. What are my rights?
Every school must have a written policy and procedures for suspensions and exclusions. You or your parents/carers can ask to see these. You should always ask your school to put you in touch with an Education Welfare Officer if you are suspended or excluded from school. The rules can be slightly different depending on what type of school you attend. Your local Education and Library Board will be able to advise you on this.

There are a number of rules which govern the suspension procedure:
  • You can only be suspended by the Principal or someone acting in the place of the Principal.
  • If you are being suspended for the first time then this suspension can last no more than 5 school days. After this the Principal can suspend you for a longer period by getting the approval of the Board of Governors.
  • You cannot be suspended from school for any more than 45 days in one school year.
  • When you are suspended, the Principal must write to your parents/carers immediately. He must also write to the Education and Library Board and the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, or if it is a Catholic Council Maintained School, the local diocesan office, and give reasons for your suspension.
  • The Principal should invite your parents/carers to the school to discuss the suspension.
  • If the Principal decides to extend your suspension s/he must again write to your parents/carers.
  • Your school must provide you with suitable education while you are suspended. They may arrange for the collection of notes or homework at the school office and you would have to complete this work in your own time. If you are out of school for a long time then home tuition may be provided through your Education and Library Board.

There is no right of appeal for either you or your parents/carers against a schools decision to suspend you. However, if the Principal and Board of Governors have failed to follow the school’s policy and procedures relating to suspension, or the decision to suspend is unreasonable or unlawful, then it is possible to challenge the decision by way of a judicial review in the High Court. If a challenge is successful then the Board of Governors of the school may be directed to remove the suspension from a pupil’s school records.

If you think you have been suspended unfairly then you should contact the Children’s Law Centre for advice.
I feel I have been unfairly expelled from school. What are my rights?

Every school must have procedures for suspensions and permanent exclusions. You or your parents/carers can ask to see these. You should always ask your school to put you in touch with an Education Welfare Officer if you are suspended or excluded from school. The rules can be slightly different depending on what type of school you attend. Your local Education and Library Board will be able to advise you on this.

There are a number of rules which govern the expulsion procedure:

  • You must have been suspended at least once before you can be expelled.
  • Before an expulsion can take place there must be a meeting between your parents/carers, the Principal, Chief Executive of the Education and Library Board and the Chairperson of the Board of Governors. You can ask to attend this meeting if you wish. You may still be expelled if your parents/carers fail to attend this meeting as they only need to have been invited to attend. This meeting must include a discussion about your future education.
  • If you go to a Board controlled school the Principal must prepare papers and send these to the Suspensions and Expulsions Panel of the Education and Library Board where you go to school. The papers then get sent to a committee called the Committee on the Suspension and Expulsion of Pupils.
  • If you attend a CCMS school, a voluntary school or a grant maintained school, the Board of Governors of your school makes the final decision about whether you will be expelled.
  • Once a decision is made the Principal must write immediately to your parent/carer and tell them about their right of appeal against the decision to an independent Expulsion Appeal Tribunal which is convened by the Education and Library Board in which the school is located, the time limit set by the Education and Library Board for lodging an appeal and where the appeal should be lodged.

Appealing against expulsion:

An Appeal can be made to the Education and Library Board Expulsion Appeal Tribunal for the area in which the school you have been expelled from is located. This must be done by your parents/carers unless you are 18 or over. It is important to act quickly as you must tell the Education and Library Board that you wish to appeal within 10 days of the date of the letter confirming your expulsion. A parent or pupil wishing to appeal the decision must send the Tribunal the reasons for the appeal in writing.

You may attend the Tribunal and speak at the hearing if you wish. You can bring a representative with you to the appeal hearing to help you put forward your views. At the hearing the Expulsions Appeal Tribunal must consider all of the circumstances of the case. In particular the Tribunal will look at the following:

  • Anything presented in writing
  • Anything said by you, your parent/carer, your friend or representative
  • Anything said by the Education and Library Board and any other people involved in the decision to expel you

Whether your school’s procedures for expulsion were properly followed. The interests of other pupils and teachers in the school.

As soon as possible after the hearing, the decision of the Tribunal is sent in writing to you if you are 18 or over, or to your parents if you are under 18, as well as whoever expelled you.

If you are suspended or excluded from school and you would like more advice contact the Children’s Law Centre.

Contact Info

Children's Law Centre
‘Rights House’
127-131 Ormeau Road,
Belfast,
BT7 1SH

Tel: 028 90245704
Fax: 028 90245679

Young People @ CLC

Advice @ CLC

Support the CLC


Copyright © Childrens Law Centre 2018. All Rights Reserved. Site by Elm House Creative - Website and app developers in Northern Ireland