If you are a pupil of black Caribbean heritage, or are from a poorer family and claim free school meals, you are four times more likely to be permanently excluded than your classmates.
Such striking statistics are one reason why children's commissioner Maggie Atkinson has been travelling the country to find out what happens when children are excluded. The resulting report is out next week and one thing is certain - it is not going to paint a pretty picture.
The numbers are stark. Some 40 per cent of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (Neets) and nine out of 10 of those who spend time in young offenders' institutions have at some stage in their school career been permanently excluded from school.
The commissioner examined the factors that influence schools' decisions to exclude, the effectiveness of the appeals and the impact of legislation, government policy and regulation on practice regarding school exclusions.
To mark the publication of this landmark report, TES visited a series of pupil referral units (PRUs) and special units to let the excluded speak. Here are their experiences, told in their own words.
Areej: "I got vexed up easily about little things."
Areej, 16, was moved to a different school in Year 9 because she was truanting. She was later expelled for taking drugs and had unsuccessful placements at two PRUs. She now attends Barnardo's Allergrange Community Service in Bradford, West Yorkshire, a centre for young people experiencing difficulties at school.
"In Year 9 I had a managed move because I was skiving so much I missed most of school that year. I then went back to another school I had been to before. It was OK in the beginning, but then I started getting into fights.
I got vexed up easily about stupid little things, like if people were chatting things about me. But I only skived once and my school work was all good. I didn't kick off with the teachers. They respected us, so what was the point?"
* Names have been changed
Photo by Alys Tomlinson
You can read the full article in the March 14 issue of TES.