[2012] School Suspension

schoolsuspensiongraphic-300x190.pngCurrent School Suspension policy is not clear, resulting in unfair and inconsistent implementation across NSW.

Education is a crucial ingredient for children and young people. A positive experience with education promotes an optimal setting for teaching and learning.

Unfortunately, too many children and young people will not be able to have a positive experience with education in part because of the school suspension policy. The current policy is not clear, resulting in unfair and inconsistent implementation across NSW.

Students are being suspended for truancy or for wearing the wrong clothing.

(graphic source: UnitingCare Children, Young People & Families)

Recommendations (excerpt from the policy paper)

  1. That the NSW government conduct a public review of the School Suspension and Expulsion Policy.
  2. That the NSW government increase funding for school counsellors to:
    • a. lower the ratio of counsellor to student to 1:500
    • b. establish permanency for one school counsellor working full time in a high school.
  3. That every young person is part of the decision making process around their behaviour management.
  4. That the NSW government increase and enforce collaboration between parents and school prior to suspension and/or expulsion, including the development of other behaviour management options.
  5. That the NSW government increase and enforce collaboration between parents and school post suspension, including the development of reintegration plans.
  6. That the NSW government develop and enhance policies and practices that focus on positive behaviour in the classroom and school environment.
  7. That schools must ensure every student has up to date and adequate school work, as well as a safe and supervised space while on suspension.
  8. That the NSW government continues to provide funding and support for the ongoing professional development of teachers.
  9. That NSW schools develop community partnerships to
    • a. increase support strategies, programs and services for students
    • b. increase the use of alternative programs prior to suspension
    • c. address specific cultural needs of students i.e. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
    • d. include community members from specific groups i.e. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, when considering disciplinary and behaviour management actions
    • e. increase the use of alternative programs whilst a student is on suspension.
  10. That the NSW School Suspension policy is developed to include a framework and capacity to incorporate students social, cultural, economic, geographic factors and learning difficulties when considering suspension and/or expulsion.


Download Paper


More information

  • Youth Action fact sheet: School suspensions
  • Infographic by UnitingCare Burnside: all the facts, such as how many children get suspended per year in NSW 
  • UnitingCare Burnside paper (PDF): another good source that addresses the high school rates of school suspension
  • A research brief by UnitingCare Burnside: highlights how community organisations should address issues of school engagement by working with the school community to deliver specific approaches which would support the learning and well- being of individual students.
  • Research has found that students who live in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods are more at risk of being suspended than other students. 
  • International research (PDF) has found that school environment affects more than academic performance - it influences students’ emotions and health behaviours as well.
  • Bock, S. B., Tapscott, K. E., and Savner, J. L. 1998. 'Suspension and expulsion: effective management for students?' in Intervention in school and clinic. 34:1.
  • Beresford, Q. and Partington, G. 2003. Reform and resistance in Aboriginal Education. University of Western Australia Press, Western Australia, Australia.
  • Deed, C. G. 2008. 'Bending the school rules to re-engage students: implications for improving teaching practice' in Improving Schools. 11:205.



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