In this paper attention will be paid to issues arising from school‐based research into the experience of working‐class boys who are excluded. National and local school exclusion statistics indicate an overall gender imbalance: in the secondary school sector, for every four boys who are excluded only one girl is excluded. Furthermore, statistics show that other groups such as pupils living in poverty (as indicated by receipt of free school meals) have an increased likelihood of being excluded from school. Explanations for the disproportionate exclusion of working‐class boys are considered here in relation to three pupil case studies drawn from a group of 20 case studies gathered in four secondary schools. There are indications that the processes by which some working‐class boys actively negotiate their masculinities are the same processes that lead to their exclusion from school. This paper uses empirical data from interviews and classroom observation to analyse these twin processes, considering how and why certain masculine identities are marginalized in school settings.