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Success in reducing school suspensions

21 April 2004 Media Statement

Success in reducing school suspensions

Programmes to reduce suspensions and stand-downs in secondary schools are delivering impressive results, Associate Education Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

A new Ministry of Education report shows the Suspension Reduction Initiative (SRI), launched in 2001 to reduce Mäori suspensions, has succeeded in reducing suspensions for all students and particularly for Mäori

The Stand-downs, Suspensions, Exclusions and Expulsions Report (2003) shows that while stand-down cases increased by 1946 from 17,912 to 19,858 between 2002 and 2003, suspensions dropped by 50 from 4937 to 4887.

"These figures are especially noteworthy as the total school roll increased by 13,671 students for the same period," Marian Hobbs said.

"Most suspension cases continue to occur with students in the 13-15 year age range. While enrolments increased over four percent in this group, suspensions did not rise, being similar to the 2002 number."

Marian Hobbs said changes in how schools manage student behaviour are definitely having an impact.

Funding schools for enhanced learning and study support centres are examples of positive initiatives being developed to encourage student participation.

"However, we must continue to ensure that disparities among different groups of students and different schools continue to be a focus of our student engagement initiatives," the minister said.

"Notably, while Mäori students continue to be over-represented in stand-down and suspension statistics, there's been a reversal in the number of these students being suspended in many secondary schools.

"The rate for Mäori students in participating SRI schools dropped from 76 per 1000 students in the year 2000, to 56 per 1000 students in 2001, 48 per 1000 students in 2002 and 43 per 1000 students in 2003.

"While boys made up 72 percent of all suspensions in 2003 I am confident the new focus on student engagement initiatives will continue to see a sustained reduction in suspensions for these students." Marian Hobbs said some regional results clearly reflected the work being done to improve students' attendance opportunities rather than stand them down or suspend them.

The Nelson and Tasman regions had the lowest rate of stand-downs with 19 per 1000 students, while the lowest suspension rates were recorded in Otago and Nelson, both with four per 1000 per students, and Taranaki with five per 1000 students.

Northland stand-downs reduced from 48 to 42 per 1000 students while their suspension rate held at 12 per 1000 students.

During 2003, 39 percent of secondary and area schools suspended no students and 75 percent of all schools had no suspensions.

The report also shows that after being suspended 84 percent of students resumed schooling during 2003, with 61 percent of them continuing at the same school they were suspended from.

The full report is available at: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/standdownsandsuspensions

ENDS

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