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: in the documents below the Education and Training Act 2020 has replaced the Education Act 1989.

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.

1. School planning

Updating school plans to reflect changes in both the school climate and community expectations around managing behaviour is important.

Updating school plans to reflect changes in both the school climate and community expectations around managing behaviour is important. Having plans in place will help boards prepare for incidents relating to student behaviour. It may be helpful to consider the following:

  • School plans for managing student behaviour
    • Having a plan in place for managing student discipline is a good safety net for your board. A clear framework outlining key responsibilities and actions can help your board manage incidents in a consistent and transparent way.

      While it is important for your board to focus on complying with key obligations, one size does not fit all. Plans must fit the size and climate of your school.

      Ask these questions of your school

      Do we have a plan for managing student behaviour? Is a plan required?

      Do we speak to neighbouring principals about their student behaviour management plans? Has our principal visited other schools to discuss best practice ideas?

      Are incident reports completed to record the details of the behaviour? Do we have an established plan for incident reporting and the documentation of incidents? Is our plan reviewed and updated regularly? Are our incident reports analysed for trends? Are all our teachers and school staff aware of the plan?

      Do we have a crisis/emergency plan? Is a plan required? Does the plan include short-, medium- and long-term actions? Does the plan include a list of emergency service contacts that is updated regularly (eg, Police, Child, Youth and Family, Fire Service, Ambulance)?

      Do we have a traumatic incident response plan and team? Is a plan required?

  • School plans for informing parents
    • Do we have a plan for informing parents in cases of behaviour management and student discipline? Does our plan outline when parents should be contacted and who should be contacting them? What is the role of our principal?

      Is our plan for informing parents clearly documented and provided to all parents? Is it up to date?

      Do we have a plan about providing information to parents?

  • Communicating school plans
    • How do we ensure parents, students, school staff and the community know about our school plans for managing student behaviour? Are they posted on our school website?

      How do we get feedback from parents, students and the local community on school plans?

      Do all teachers, school staff and parents know our plan for managing student behaviour? Does our plan have information for parents that will help them to support their children?

      How do we ensure that new staff are informed of our new school plans? Do we engage with and remind all our staff of the importance of key actions for managing behaviour?

  • Reviewing school plans
    • It is good practice to update your school plans on a regular basis and ensure that all your school staff, students and parents are aware of any updates.

      School plans should be on a review cycle.

      Ask these questions of your school

      Do we have a regular review cycle for our plans?

      Has there been an incident that has occurred that has determined the need to update our school plan for managing student behaviour?

      Do we identify specific areas for improvement on a regular basis?

  • Examples of schools using plans to inform decision-making about stand-downs and suspensions
    • Example 1

      As part of the school planning for the year, the board of trustees decided it was timely to review and update the school discipline policy as the school wanted to add a section about computer and cellphone use, and respecting property. The current policy (approved by the board in 2000) was outdated and did not reflect changes in society that had serious implications for students, the school and the wider community. The board was often managing cases of inappropriate computer and cellphone use, and an increase in vandalism and ‘tagging’ at school, and wanted to update their policy accordingly.

      The board of trustees drafted new sections in the school discipline policy and consulted with school staff on the changes. The board also highlighted the action the school may take in these circumstances. The draft policy was then posted on the school website for feedback. The school informed parents that it would be posted there and invited comment.

      The school received a vast array of feedback about the new sections from parents and students. The parents who provided feedback to the school were mostly in favour of the new sections, while many students opposed the clauses about cellphone use. The board considered the feedback and revised the policy about cellphone use to highlight examples of inappropriate use eg, use during class time, video-recording inappropriate behaviour and use of cellphones during school time to organise inappropriate events.

      The board finalised the policy and approved it at the board of trustees’ meeting. The policy was placed on the school website. The principal discussed the policy at the staff meeting to ensure all staff were aware of the new sections and implications. The principal also addressed the students at the school assembly to update all students.

  • Useful contacts
    • The New Zealand Schools Trustees Association(external link) (NZSTA) represents and provides services to boards of trustees across New Zealand. NZSTA provides governance support services, industrial relations and advice free of charge. Boards of trustees can access the NZSTA National Office Trusteeship helpdesk for all matters relating to trusteeship. The Helpdesk is staffed five days a week during office hours, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

      Ph 0800 STA HELP (0800 782 4357)

      Fax (04) 473 4706

      Email helpdesk@nzsta.org.nz