Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions guidelines – Part 2

About the guidelines

These guidelines:

  • are designed to assist school boards, principals, and teachers with their legal options and duties and meet their obligations under relevant statutory requirements, and
  • are for use in all state and state-integrated schools.

Independent schools may also wish to adopt this guide.

Please note:  The Education and Training Act 2020 has replaced the Education Act 1989.  Any references to the Education Act 1989 in the SSEE Guidelines  below should be replaced with the relevant sections in the new Education and Training Act 2020. This includes replacing the sections of the Act in the letters in the Good Practice Guidelines Part 2 (refer Appendix).

The guidelines comprise:

Part 1: Legal options and duties [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Part 2: Good practice [PDF, 2.4 MB]

These guidelines replace those published by the Ministry of Education in June 2004 and the 2007 Supplement. The paragraphs have been numbered for ease of use and reference. Cross-references to Part 1 – Legal options and duties are given where relevant.


Staying at school will help ensure that New Zealand children are equipped with the skills and qualifications they need to succeed and make valuable contributions to their communities, the economy and society.

The Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring that every child and young person receives a quality education and that schools are given the right tools to help their students succeed.

Suspension and expulsion data clearly show that Māori and Pasifika students are over-represented. As Minister of Education Anne Tolley says in the introduction to Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, “Realising Māori learners’ potential does not ask for or require a special response but rather a professional response. It is about commitment to doing better with what we have, not compliance, nor complacency.” We all need to be working together to reduce this over-representation.

All Māori and Pasifika learners have the potential to be engaged and achieve in schooling. The education system must work for Māori and Pasifika so they gain the knowledge and skills necessary to do well. Before you make the decision to suspend or exclude students, we recommend that you consider these factors.

These guidelines are to be used in conjunction with Part I: Legal options and duties guidelines for principals and board of trustees on stand-downs, suspensions and exclusions, which replaces those published by the Ministry of Education in June 2004 and the 2007 supplement.

The topics covered in Part II of the guidelines raise ideas and questions about current and future school practice. While they are not compulsory for principals or boards to follow, they may help boards apply the legal guidelines using best practice examples.

Section 1: Contingency planning provides information about:

  • establishing, reviewing and managing school plans for managing student behaviour
  • collecting, understanding and using school data to reflect on student behaviour
  • involving other people when managing incidents
  • communicating with key groups of people about incidents of student behaviour 
  • traumatic incidents.

Section 2: Creating procedures and processes provides information about:

  • investigating incidents of misconduct and interviewing students
  • behaviour management
  • the effect on others as a result of misconduct
  • catering for special education needs.

Section 3: Actions of last resort provides information about:

  • suspension conditions
  • documenting processes
  • managing complaints
  • excluded student protocols.

These guidelines provide a fresh look at behaviour management, including stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions provoke thought about what actually works in our schools and support schools to find a way forward.