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Dr Dennis Ougrin

Author: Dr Dennis OugrinConsultant Child Psychiatrist

Behavioural problems are the biggest reason children and teenagers get excluded, either temporarily or permanently, from school. We can help address these issues.

The impact of school expulsions and suspensions

Every day in the UK about 40 children are permanently excluded from school and a further 2,000 suspended. The main reasons are behavioural, either aggressive or disruptive behaviour.

These school expulsions and suspensions can have a devastating effect on the family – not only is it a very stressful time and one that often results in a lot of family conflict, but if suitable alternative education can’t be found quickly, it can have long-term implications for the academic attainment of the child and the ability for the parents to carry out normal daily life, such as work.

Half of all expulsions are boys aged 13 to 14

Help when we needed by someone who really took the time to get to know our son. The support of the admin team was fantastic.

Fung-Li, London

Causes of school expulsions and suspensions

The main reasons children and teenagers are expelled or suspended are:

Cause of school expulsions and suspensions

These aggressive or disruptive behaviours are often symptomatic of emotional difficulties or mental health problems the child may be experiencing.

Undiagnosed ADHD, ASD, conduct disorders, special educational needs, anxiety or ODD can all be reasons why a child or teenager may get into trouble at school. We know that poor behaviour is closely linked to low levels of self-esteem and may be a result of bullying, abuse or a trauma.

As the causes aren’t always clear and often a child or teen won’t be able to talk about why they are behaving the way they are – seeking help from an expert who can assess if there is an underlying cause for the behavioural problems is key.

children were suspended from school in 2016

Support for school expulsions and suspensions

If your child has been excluded from school or is at risk of exclusion, one of the best places to start for parents is to understand exactly what the issues are.

A psychiatric assessment with a child and adolescent psychiatrist will be able to identify if there is an underlying cause, such as ODD or ADHD. They will work with you and your child to get a clear picture as to what has led to this situation.

From there, medication or talking therapies may be recommended.

Psychological and behavioural therapies, such as CBT and other psychological therapies can be really effective at helping children overcome their fears. Our Psychologists and Psychotherapists are experienced in helping children with school-related issues, so understand the complexities well.

Parenting support can be invaluable in teaching parents the best way of handling difficult situations in a way that will support your child’s progress. It also gives parents a space to talk to a child behavioural expert about their experiences and frustrations – it can be very hard to talk to family and friends honestly about what is happening in your family.

Read more about treating behavioural issues

School exclusion could have strong long-term effects on a child’s life. Excluded children very often suffer from mental health disorders which may not have been recognised. Having a comprehensive assessment and obtaining appropriate advice could give teachers tools to re-integrate the child successfully and to support the child throughout their education.
Dr Dennis Ougrin
MBBS, MRCPsych, PGDip (Oxon), CCT, PhD

Consultant Child Psychiatrist

Dr Ougrin is a psychiatrist with nearly 10 years of clinical and academic experience specialising in child and adolescent psychiatry. He also has undertaken much research in the area of self-harm and has developed an effective intervention for...

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