All children and young people have a right to an education, regardless of their background or ability. Securing a good education provides children the chance to thrive and succeed in life. In England, poorer children do less well at school than better off children.

During our School Exclusions Inquiry, we found an unacceptably high correlation between a pupil's background and the likelihood of permanent exclusion. We found that boys; children with special educational needs; and those from Black Caribbean and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities continue to be far more likely to be permanently excluded from school than other pupils. Children with a special educational need were nine times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than those without.

We focus in particular on children and young people who are vulnerable and who may not otherwise be heard.  

Our priorities

  • Children's rights and education

Our remit states that we must promote and protect children's rights. We will be looking at the characteristics of what makes an excellent education system, which promotes and protects children's rights.

  • Complaints processes

We will be exploring whether complaints processes in schools are sufficient for children and young people.

  • Residential Special Schools

We will be looking at the views of children and young people who attend residentail special schools and examining whether these schools promote and protect children's rights.

Our education work

In 2012, the Children’s Commissioner led our first Inquiry using powers set out in the Children Act 2004. The Inquiry looked at the scale and nature of illegal school exclusions.

Organisations which provide initial teacher training including the Open University, London Metropolitan University and the Institute of Education, use our work on exclusions in teacher training.

Ofsted now grade schools found to be excluding pupils illegally as inadequate.

Schools use our guidance to improve their exclusions procedures and local government staff use it to train school staff and governors.

Following the Inquiry, we launched an investigation into the school admissions system.

Find out more about both Inquiries in the spotlights below.


Our work on education has particular focus and relevance to the following Articles of the UNCRC: 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 14, 16, 23, 28, 29, 31 34 and 42.

Find out more about the UNCRC.

Learn more about our work on education...

Below are some questions about education. You can find more questions and information on our Get Advice pages.

Questions about Education

When can my school exclude me?

A school can exclude you for behaviour reasons, or for breaking school rules.

It can’t exclude you because you didn’t do your homework, got bad grades or for any other reason.

I think my school has broken the law in how it has dealt with me. Who should I complain to?

The first thing to do is to speak to your parents, social worker, care worker or foster parent and get their support. You will then need to complain to the school about what they have done.

I have special educational needs. Does this make a difference to my education?

Everybody has a right to an education, no matter what their background or needs are.

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