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Students w behavioural difficulties need support

Office of the Ombudsmen
Te Tari-o-Ngā Kaitiaki Mana Tangata

Media release

Students with behavioural difficulties need consistent classroom support – Ombudsmen

The Office of the Ombudsmen says more consistent support needs to be available for students with behavioural difficulties in mainstream schools.

In the Office’s Annual Report to Parliament, the Chief Ombudsmen Beverley Wakem says it is worrying when students with behavioural difficulties face suspension or expulsion where insufficient or inadequate support for the student or teacher has been provided.

“We have had complaints where a student exhibiting these behaviours is involved in an incident – often of a violent nature – and the student is suspended or expelled.

“In the first place the school has a duty of care to other students and to staff to keep them safe from harm. However, this can and does conflict with the duty to help students with behavioural issues to enjoy interacting with their peers in a normal classroom setting.”

The Chief Ombudsmen says that more attention needs to be paid to the issue.

“Funding needs to be in place to ensure teacher aide support is always available for as many hours as is appropriate to ensure learning can take place for everyone in the classroom, not least the student with behavioural problems.”

Beverley Wakem says it appears some conditions present such complexities that teachers may need more support to understand what behavioural responses might arise and to develop techniques for managing the situation safely for all.

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Another issue which has been noted in the past year, she says, arises from cases where administrative justice and procedural fairness in board deliberations around suspensions and exclusions have been called into question.

“A common failing has been that the board did not keep adequate records of its deliberations on a case so the matters taken into account in reaching its decisions were not immediately clear.”


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