6 Stories of People Getting Kicked Out of School

"The PE teacher was being horrible to my friend so I hit her with my tennis racket."
Young man surrounded
Photo: Bob Foster

Every British high school has a legendary story of how an old student got expelled. One from my comprehensive is of a sheep wandering onto the yard, and a kid being caught on video swinging it around by its hind legs. While many of these stories probably aren’t true, they’re as fun to pass around as the finest celebrity gossip.

Expulsion is, as most teachers will tell you, a last resort. Due to the knock-on negative effects following a dismissal from school, avoiding throwing out a pupil and instead trying to improve their behaviour in-house is by and large seen as the appropriate way to handle unruly students.


For the following expellees, however, their individual schools decided enough was enough and booted them out. Here, they tell us how it’s had an impact on their lives.

LISTEN: "Problem Kids" – a podcast about the UK education system from the VENT Documentaries series, produced by VICE UK and the young people of Brent.

Sean, 21

I refused to do PE on a regular basis from Year 8 to Year 10. I'm gay, and any other gay man will tell you how horrible it is being surrounded by so many straight men and how vulnerable you feel. When my deputy head called me into his office to discuss it, he referred to me as the “vilest little boy he's ever come across”, so I called him a “fat ginger cunt” – excuse the fatphobia, I was 15 – and walked out of school. Following this, I was asked to either move schools or take myself off the register and be on my way.

I chose to remove myself from the register and teach myself my GCSEs. I understand my words were going to be reacted to negatively, but I don't think the school took into account my own difficulties. If I’m honest, I always got a sense of slight homophobia from the deputy head – he always seemed to single me out. For example, I knew kids who had snorted coke off school toilet seats who were let off with it, but I was removed from the school for not doing PE and calling someone a cunt.

I had a visit from the education authority afterwards, and he got me a place at a “centre” for kids who couldn't attend mainstream school. I went here four days a week, 10AM to 2PM. There was one teacher who didn't have a degree, and another volunteer who was completing an English degree who taught all of us. I’m proud to say I ended up getting the centre their first A at GCSE, and was the first student there to pass every GCSE they took.


Honestly, if I were able to go back in time and change it, I wouldn't. I think being expelled from secondary school changed me so much as a person, and I wouldn't be who I am today if it hadn't happened. I'm now at the University of Birmingham doing a degree in Philosophy and Religion, and I don't think it would have happened if I hadn't been expelled.

I’m also starting a teacher training course next year, because I feel like the education system failed me so much, and it might sound very cringe, but I want to be the teacher I needed back then.

Mandy, 57

I was expelled because my PE teacher was being horrible to my friend, so I hit her. Looking back, I definitely deserved to be expelled, and luckily it wasn’t reported to the police, but things were different back in 1976.

I don’t think it has affected my life, but it was a bit embarrassing going to my eldest child’s parents evening because a few remembered me from the incident.

Demi, 26

I was expelled for physically lashing out at a male teacher after being sexually abused, outside of school, for years – which was something the school was aware of. I was never meant to be left alone with male members of staff, and they failed to ensure this.

I do think it was unfair. I completely admit what I did was unacceptable and I should have been punished or suspended and done my school work from home, but not expelled. A kid in that situation needs careful support, not turning away. I feel I was too much hassle for them to deal with, so was just written off.


The immediate effects were I suddenly lost any friends I had, and I felt totally alone. It knocked my confidence and made me feel totally worthless. Because it was close to the end of the school year, I didn’t attend another school, so I didn't get the chance to make friends again. I also sat no exams, so I have no qualifications. I went into working full-time packing orders in a warehouse, as I was 16 and old enough to work.

I worked minimum wage warehouse jobs for a long time, where I could lie about my GCSE results quite easily as they didn’t check. The pay was low and left me needing food banks and charity help to get by. I now work in the sex industry in massage parlours, as it’s the only place I can make a good amount of money with no qualifications. I’m saving up to do a part-time course for my GCSEs then go to college, as I’d love to one day have a real career I enjoy.

It’s mad to think I could maybe have skipped warehouse work and sex work if I’d completed my exams when I was 16, then gone to college. I was never great at school, but could definitely have got average results and done better for myself.

Courtney, 24

I was 14 when I was expelled from school. Their official reason was “behaviour deviance” – they said they couldn’t handle somebody with behaviour and personal problems. I definitely believe this was an unfair dismissal; it came less than six months after a suicide attempt, which [the school] did not offer any support with. I believe they could have supported me instead of dismissing me, which did hinder my mental state more.

I was placed in a college for children with behavioural problems, as my school had contacted other local schools basically telling them not to admit me. This meant I was placed somewhere that was not ideal. It led me to turn to alcohol and drugs at 14, and sudden constant arrests and trouble with the police – things I’d not had problems with until I’d been expelled.


Looking back, I would say that being expelled may have been a good thing, as I’m now on a masters course and getting help mentally, and I don’t know if I’d have got that if I wasn’t expelled. I believe that staying at that school without the help I needed would have resulted in a worse mental state and possibly more suicide attempts. It may have made my academic future more difficult, but I’m very determined that I can achieve nearly anything if I put my mind to it.

Rich, 35

I was expelled as I was having major issues with being bullied and truancy. I was going through a rough time during my teens, coming to terms about my sexuality, as well as recently going into foster care, and that mixed in with puberty was a ticking time bomb. I would lash out at the teachers as a way to get out of class, which always resulted in detention, and over time this led to my expulsion.

I personally don't think it was a fair expulsion. I complained about the bullying, which was the main reason for my truancy, but this wasn't taken onboard. I felt there was no support from my teachers for help with my issues. I was seen as a problem, and the problem should be eradicated. Following the expulsion, I actually felt a slight relief because I was away from my bullies and I had a chance to start afresh at a new school. I used this time to evaluate myself as a person and not hide who I was anymore.


I don't think being expelled has affected me too much in a bad way. It actually helped me grow as a young person, and in a way it taught me to be more steadfast for future issues: if there’s something wrong, then I shouldn't put up with it and I should push to get the help I need.

Sarah, 28

When I was in Year 9 I got bullied pretty badly and had a lot going on at home too. I had really bad social anxiety, and I started having the odd day off here and there, when I felt like I couldn’t face it. But my anxiety got worse - I’d have panic attacks trying to get ready for school – so I gradually kept skiving more and more, until my attendance was something ridiculous, like 9 percent. My school knew of my issues and decided they didn’t want to deal with it anymore, so expelled me and sent me to a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).

After my expulsion, I took about a year-and-a-half out of school altogether, then finished Year 11 at the PRU and managed to get some GCSEs. At that point, my confidence was completely wiped out and I managed to get into college, but dropped out after a few months. I just couldn’t get a job anywhere and ended up being unemployed for about a year, until I got a job in a call centre.

I watched my mates go to uni when we were 18, and I was just gutted I couldn’t go. I had a big chip on my shoulder about education for a long time, but I ended up packing in my job when I was 22, moving back in with my mum and going to college again. My teachers this time were amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive environment. I eventually made it to uni, dropped out after a year – some more mental health problems – but started again, and was so happy to finally graduate this summer. It’s mad, though – I’m glad I went to uni, and I’m so lucky I had the opportunity, but at the age of 28 I do still see myself as behind those people who graduated at 21, in terms of work experience, career length, having savings and even basics, like paying into a pension.

I think my life would be massively different if I hadn’t been expelled and treated so badly at a time when I was actually extremely vulnerable and needed help. It definitely affected me more than I realised at the time.