Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the review is taking place because exclusion rates have gone up in recent years.
In an interview with The Sunday Times he said pupils should only be expelled as a "last resort".
The DfE has confirmed that Edward Timpson, who lost his seat at the June 2017 general election, will lead the review, with more details due to be announced later this week. News of his appointment comes just weeks after it emerged that Timpson had been appointed to advise children's commissioner for England Anne Longfield.
Hinds said there were big variations in the use of permanent exclusions from area to area and school to school, as well as among groups of children.
Last month Ofsted said it was writing to more than 100 head teachers across eight exclusion "hot spots", to raise concerns about the high number of pupils being removed from schools in their area.
And last year children's commissioner Anne Longfield told MPs she is concerned that a number of schools are forcing or "encouraging" children with behaviour issues to leave school.
Chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, Jolanta Lasota, said: "Children with autism are among the most at risk of suffering exclusion from school and its damaging consequences.
"Too often schools are denying these children their basic right to education - creating huge anxiety and disruption for both pupils and their families.
"This review is an opportunity to think again about how exclusions are used, bring down the number of children with special educational needs being excluded and to stamp out illegal exclusions.
"Schools that break the rules must be held to account. We're looking forward to working closely with the Department of Education and Edward Timpson to help children with autism get the education they deserve."