Calls for suspension as a last resort in schools

Suspension should be used as a last resort in schools with disengagement from the education system leading to further criminal behaviour, experts claim.

Laws introduced to Queensland parliament last month are looking to overhaul the disciplinary system used in schools and the way children are home-schooled.

The reforms are now being debated by a parliamentary committee with submissions by a range of education and youth experts.

One of the changes is to school suspensions and expulsions to improve procedural fairness and give parents the right to appeal consecutive short disciplinary measures.

In 2022, there were more than 72,000 short suspensions (up to 10 days) and more than 1500 exclusions recorded by Queensland public schools.

Experts are calling for amendments to go further and make suspension or expulsion an absolute last resort because they say time away from school correlates with criminal involvement.

"What we see is a very strong link with school disciplinary absences and a strong link with the bad behaviour that they engage in to get them into the youth justice system," Katherine Hayes, chief executive of Youth Advocacy Centre, told the hearing on Thursday.

She said it becomes a systemic issue once a child is suspended because a lack of engagement with education can lead to a cycle of possible criminal behaviour, especially in regional areas.

"These kids float into the youth justice system and become entrenched because there's no engagement with education," Ms Hayes said.

The safety of students and teachers remains a priority but experts are calling for education support to go further before kids are expelled.

"Nearly every kid in youth detention has first been excluded from school," Matilda Alexander, chief executive of Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion, said.

"Every child has a right to learn. Let's keep our kids in schools."

Youth support groups want to see the bill legislate multi-tiered systems of support between education, community and government support organisations as well as limiting the number of suspensions in a certain period.

But teacher representatives fear the amendments, including the right to appeal cumulative suspensions, will impact already stretched resources and undermine decision making by principals.

"If students were to remain in schools whereby they were unsafe, we risk the safety of all of our staff and students in our schools," Principal at Brisbane South State Secondary College, Kirsten Ferdinands, told the hearing.

Ms Ferdinands said schools need to be better resourced to cope with the legislative changes.

The proposed laws also include changes to require home-schooled children to follow the Australian curriculum, after a 200 per cent rise in the past four years, which were debated during the committee hearing on Thursday.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store