SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Sometimes school principals have no choice but to suspend their students from attending school with Yeppoon State High School recording one of the highest number of school suspensions in the state.
SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Sometimes school principals have no choice but to suspend their students from attending school with Yeppoon State High School recording one of the highest number of school suspensions in the state.

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A SUSPENSION is a serious disciplinary consequence that prohibits an enrolled student from attending school and any school-related activities, for a set period of time.

Central Queensland's Yeppoon State High School has had the indignity of being named in the state school's top 10 for the most student suspensions according to 2019 data released this week by the Department of Education.

Dominated by schools from the south-east, the top 10 list of suspensions featured Ipswich State High School in first place with Yeppoon State High School named in 10th place with 312 short suspensions recorded in semester one.

The Morning Bulletin has sifted through the massive list to compile a top 10 of the Rockhampton region's state schools with the most suspensions.

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: High schools around the Rockhampton region have featured at the top of a list for the most state school student suspensions.
SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: High schools around the Rockhampton region have featured at the top of a list for the most state school student suspensions.

Making up the top five was the region's five state high schools with Rockhampton State High School the runner-up, followed by North Rockhampton High School, Glenmore State High School and Mount Morgan State High School.

The remainder of the top 10 consisted of the region's state primary schools with Berserker State School the worst performing with 50 suspensions in semester two.

It was followed by Gracemere State School, Mount Archer State School, Yeppoon State School and Waraburra State School.

Under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006, suspensions could be the punishment for behaviour including disobedience, misbehaviour, conduct that adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, other students or the good order and management of the school.

Suspensions can also be enforced if the student's attendance at the school poses an unacceptable risk to the safety or wellbeing of students and staff or if the student was charged with a serious offence.

>> READ: FULL LIST: The schools with the most suspensions revealed

>> READ: REVEALED: Rocky schools with the highest suspension rates

According to the Department of Education, a short suspension can last between 1 to 10 days and a long suspension ranges from 11 to 20 days.

Students can be excluded from attending any state school for up to 12 months or permanently if their behaviour is so serious that suspensions are considered inadequate.

A school principal has the option of cancelling the enrolment of a student if they persistently refuse to participate in the program of instruction, with the Glenmore State High School exercising this option more than any other Queensland school with 14 cancellations last year.

The Morning Bulletin approached the principals of Yeppoon, Rockhampton and Glenmore high schools for comments on their individual approaches to discipline but were referred to the Department of Education.

 

Department of Education responds to School Disciplinary Absence data for 2019

A spokesperson from the Department of Education said Queensland state schools had high expectations for positive and respectful behaviour from all students and adults with staff supporting students to meet these expectations by implementing proactive, preventive approaches to discipline.

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Suspending students is one way of dealing with behaviour issues.
SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Suspending students is one way of dealing with behaviour issues.

"Students in state schools consistently demonstrate appropriate behaviours and do not require consequences such as a School Disciplinary Absence (SDA) - for example suspension or exclusion. The majority of Queensland state school students never receive an SDA during their 13 years of education," the spokesperson said.

"In 2019, approximately one in five state schools reported no disciplinary absences being used during the entire year.

"Additionally, the total number of disciplinary absences fell in 2019, after several years of annual increases."

In total, there were 82,944 disciplinary absences reported in 2019, a decrease of 2718 disciplinary absences (down 3.2%) from 2018.

"Only around 7 per cent of the student population are subject to disciplinary absences," they said.

"This demonstrates that strategies and boundaries put in place by our principals and teachers are effective.

During 2020, all state schools will develop a Student Code of Conduct in collaboration and consultation with parents and the school community to outline the expected behaviour of students, replacing the Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students.

The spokesperson said there was a wide range of supports and programs in place to support student behaviour and ensure that Queensland state schools facilitate high standards of behaviour from the whole school community.

These include:

• Supporting schools to implement Positive Behaviour for Learning - a whole-school approach to creating safe and supportive school environments;

• Providing access to a variety of regional staff to support schools where additional advice or support is required to address complaints (this includes Senior Guidance Officers, Mental Health coaches, Principal Education Officers, Principal Advisors education services and Directors Regional Services).

• Making specialist staff, such as behaviour, student protection and inclusion coaches available;

• Providing Functional Behaviour Assessment training for staff to improve their understanding of the function of behaviours, ways to support positive behaviours and early intervention to de-escalate or prevent inappropriate behaviour.

 

Education Minister addresses latest student suspension statistics

Queensland's Education Minister Grace Grace said every Queensland state school student was expected to behave in positive and respectful way toward staff, teachers and other students and violence was not tolerated.

Education Minister Grace Grace said there was reduction in suspensions in 2019. Pics Tara Croser.
Education Minister Grace Grace said there was reduction in suspensions in 2019. Pics Tara Croser.

"School staff implement proactive and preventive measures to help students meet these expectations," Ms Grace said.

"In 2019, the total number of disciplinary absences fell for the first time in six years.

"No teacher should ever be abused or attacked at work.

Ms Grace said the department provided free, individualised counselling and support to all staff, and their immediate family members, through the department's Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

"To ensure our school leaders are supported in their roles to lead healthy workplaces, in 2019, we announced an investment of $8 million to implement a Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy under the Teaching Queensland's Future Program," she said.

"This strategy was launched in June 2020, delivering initiatives that focus on assisting principals with the practicalities and complexities associated with leading and managing a school."

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga were asked for comment.

 

For more information regarding the suspension process in Queensland state schools, refer to the Fact sheet - Suspension (1-10 days and 11-20 days).

To watch a video explaining suspensions, go here.



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