Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions guidelines – Part 1

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 Stand-downs, Suspensions, Exclusions and Expulsions (SEEE) Guidelines should be replaced with the relevant sections in the new Education and Training Act 2020. In Part 1, this includes replacing the sections of the Act in Appendix 1: The Education Act 1989 and Appendix 2: Education (Stand-down, Suspension, Exclusion and Expulsion) Rules 1999. In Part 2, this includes replacing the sections of the Act in the letters in the Appendix in the Good Practice Guidelines.

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 2 – Good practice are given where relevant.

About these guidelines

  • How they help you
      1. These Guidelines:
        a. describe the processes for stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions as set out in the legislation
        b. take you through these processes from beginning to end; and
        c. incorporate guidance from courts.
      2. These Guidelines are designed to help you:
        a. act legally
        b. make good decisions
        c. act fairly
        d. understand your options and duties; and
        e. minimise the risk of complaints, litigation or review by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
  • Guidelines and legislation
      1. Part I of these Guidelines outlines the stand-down and suspension processes. This guidance is primarily based on the Education and Training Act 2020 and the Education (Stand-down, Suspension, Exclusion, and Expulsion) Rules 1999. The legislation is included in the Appendices. Part II of these Guidelines provides optional good-practice advice.
  • Getting further advice
      1. Trustees, including principals, can access the NZSTA Trusteeship helpdesk for all matters relating to trusteeship. This service is funded by the Ministry and is available regardless of membership of the NZSTA. The helpdesk is staffed five days a week during office hours, 8:00am to 5:00pm. 0800 STA HELP (0800 782 4357) Fax (04) 473 4706. Email
  • Definitions
      1. Stand-down means the formal removal of a student from school for a specified period. Stand-downs of a particular student can total no more than five school days in a term or ten school days in a year.
      2. Suspension means the formal removal of a student from school until the board of trustees decides the outcome at a suspension meeting.
      3. The board of trustees of a school is required to hold a meeting of the board, within seven school days of the suspension, to decide the outcome of a suspension (see Sections 81[4], 83[4] of the Act). Following a suspension, the board may decide to:
        a. lift the suspension without conditions
        b. lift the suspension with reasonable conditions
        c. extend the suspension with reasonable conditions for a reasonable period
        d. exclude or expel the student.
      4. Exclusion means the formal removal of a student aged under 16 from the school and the requirement that the student enrol elsewhere.
      5. Expulsion means the formal removal of a student aged 16 or over from the school. If the student wishes to continue schooling, he or she may enrol elsewhere.

      Exclusion and expulsion are for the most serious cases only.