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.

2. Understanding data

To inform your board’s response to student behaviour, look for patterns or differences in your stand-down, suspension and exclusion data. Looking at your data can help inform which approaches will best meet the unique needs your school faces. The following may help analyse your data:

  • Behaviour at school
    • School communities value a strong school culture.

      Ask these questions of your school

      How well are our students developing the values and behaviours of our school and community? How well are we modelling these values as staff? How well do our discipline interventions help us grow these characteristics in our students?

      Are there particular groups of students at risk of stand-downs and suspensions in our school? What is the picture at our school? Do we analyse our stand-downs and suspensions by age, gender, ethnicity and behaviour type?

      Can we put interventions in place for students at risk of stand-downs and suspensions so that problems are addressed before they escalate?

      Do we have good teaching and learning strategies to engage ‘at-risk’ students in learning? Do we have relevant curriculum pathways that interest students?

  • Characteristics of stand-downs or suspensions
    • Can we use our current student management system to collect data and run reports about behavioural issues in our school? Have we been able to identify any trends or correlations that may have had an impact on certain types of student behaviour? Eg, if there is an increase in drug-related incidents, there may be a person selling drugs close to the school. Which students are most often excluded following a suspension?

      Is there a particular time of the day, day of the week, or month of the year when disciplinary actions leading to stand-downs or suspensions are at their highest? Lunchtimes? Monday mornings? After school?

      Where are the incidents happening? Classrooms? Grounds?

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

      Two secondary schools in a provincial town noticed groups of students who presented with behaviour problems and lateness on a Monday morning. They noticed that these students were still dealing with the trauma and drama of the weekend, and weren’t in any sort of headspace to engage in classes. They decided to timetable a year 10 option class in the first period each Monday. The Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour and a trusted senior staff member help the students debrief the weekend and set some goals for the school week. They think about what trouble might be brewing and develop simple plans to avoid it.

      The students carry a tracking sheet with them for the week. Teachers recognise and affirm learning behaviours. Students get a point for turning up on time, having the right gear, for participation in class and for adequate work completion. Students aim for improvements in their weekly points totals. As a bonus, teachers are more conscious about looking for the positive and noticing improved learning and behaviour.

      The students have a catch-up class together during the week, and the Friday class is often a reward time for those who have met their goals. The outcomes for the schools have been fewer discipline incidents, better attendance and improved communication among teachers.

      Example 2

      A medium-sized urban secondary school noticed many problems caused by anger/violence issues among students, particularly in the junior school. There were many unpleasant, dangerous and unpredictable incidents in classrooms and in the grounds. The suspension rate for the school was high, and violence issues were over-represented in these figures.

      When students were suspended, they often engaged one by one with a community agency offering non-violence services.

      The school and agency met together and decided to try a stopping violence intervention with students before their problems had escalated to the point of suspension. It was no problem to identify the students at this relatively early point and invite them to participate. The groups consisted of six students and ran for about eight weeks, in school time. Sometimes they were held on the school site and sometimes at the agency’s premises.

      Students have learned new skills and have got into less trouble. There has been a feedback loop to their teachers, and class-based issues are less likely to escalate. There are fewer stand-downs and suspensions, and the management staff have appreciated the extra time to put into leading the school.

  • 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