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New Rules Aim To Reverse School Suspension Trend


16 JUNE 1999

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced new suspension rules for all schools which aim to reduce the number of students suspended while recognising the difficult challenge schools have in maintaining a safe and effective learning environment for all students.

"Schools have a difficult problem in dealing with bullying and anti-social behaviour. However, just removing the student from school leaves the community with the long-term problem of an uneducated and angry youth on the street. These new suspension rules will give principals and boards a wider range of possible responses to discipline students, with the aim of keeping students in learning."

Draft rules were sent to schools in March for comment. The rules set down the process for stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions. The final rules give greater recognition to the responsibilities boards have to maintain a safe environment for all students. There is a reduced compliance burden for principals and boards and the rules have been made clearer and shorter. A further change has been made to enable the process of suspensions to be managed in a less adversarial and legalistic way. The new rules come into effect on 12 July, the first day of term three.

"These rules are aimed at reducing the number of suspensions which have grown considerably in recent years. This growth is a reflection of schools taking a firmer approach on violence and drugs, increased retention rates, roll growth and increased violence in the wider community."

"Clearer suspension rules are just one part of the Government's strategy for dealing with social issues in schools. In this year's budget, the Government provided $36.8 million for alternative learning centres for those students whose behaviour is too disruptive for the traditional classroom environment, an extra $10.4 million has been committed to enable an additional 70 social workers to help pupils in our primary schools and $1.3 million has been set aside for eliminating violence programmes in our schools. This year the first teams of Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour have gone into our schools. These teachers will help deal with behavioural problems before they get to the point of suspension. In addition, Behaviour Education Support Teams and Centres for Extra Support are being established for students with severe behaviour difficulties who need intensive specialist intervention to modify their behaviour."

"There is a huge challenge for schools and the wider community in managing students with behavioural problems. These new suspension rules are part of a strategy to more effectively manage these young people and to prevent them becoming jobless and on the road to more serious offending."

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