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.

Overview: Being fair and flexible

  • Summary
      1. When dealing with serious misbehaviour or serious risks to student safety you must be fair and flexible. This is a summary of what the legislation requires:
  • Fair
      1. Being fair, at its simplest, involves treating people with respect. In part, that will mean taking account of people’s knowledge, abilities and culture. Everyone should know what is happening and what is at stake.
      2. Being fair also means both following the rules and considering the purpose and principles behind them. Some rules are very specific; for example, there are clear rules about when the board may meet and what information people must have. Other matters to consider are more general. They include your responsibility to maintain a safe and effective learning environment and guidance contained in your school’s charter. Remember that the only process for removing a student from school for disciplinary reasons is for the principal to stand-down or suspend that student.
  • Flexible
      1. Being flexible means considering all your options. Some situations will be more serious than others; you may respond to different situations in different ways.

      You should consider all of the circumstances, and weigh up all of the factors before you make a decision.

  • Natural justice
      1. The legislation requires you to follow the principles of natural justice – which means you must act fairly in the circumstances. Common expectations are that a person will have adequate notice of a situation that may affect them, they will have an opportunity to be heard and respond, and that a decision will be made by an unbiased decision maker. The stand-down and suspension processes will help you apply the principles of natural justice. You will find advice about those principles throughout the Guidelines. For the moment, note that:
      1. the Rules already incorporate the principles of natural justice. For example, they already establish procedures for giving adequate notice and having an opportunity to be heard. Following the process carefully will help you to act, and be seen to act, fairly.
      2. parts of the process are very flexible; you have a lot of discretion about your decisions. Whatever decisions you make, they should be based on all of the facts, in their proper context and making allowance for individual circumstances. Good decision-making will help you act fairly.
      3. records must adequately explain your decision. They do not have to be complicated, but must set out your conclusions on all the main issues. They must be clear and complete, showing what you did and why. Keeping full and accurate records will help you to act fairly and show others that you did.
      4. your procedures do not need to be elaborate. The principles of natural justice have to be applied in schools by busy teachers, principals and board members. The emphasis is on a prompt, considered and fair resolution of problems.
  • Section 78 Education and Training Act 2020
    • Purpose –

      The purpose of the provisions of this Act concerning the standing-down, suspension, exclusion, and expulsion of a student from a state school is to -

      1. Provide a range of responses for cases of varying degrees of seriousness; and
      2. Minimise the disruption to a student's attendance at school and facilitate the return of the student to school when that is appropriate; and ensure that individual cases are dealt with in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
  • Rule 7 Education (Stand-down, Suspension, Exclusion and Expulsion) Rules 1999
    • Principles applying to processes, practices and procedures

      Every participant in the processes, practices, and procedures dealt with in Sections 80 to 88 of the Education and Training Act 2020 and these rules should be guided by the following principles

      1. The need for every participant to understand the processes, practices, and procedures:
      2. The need for every participant to treat every other participant with respect, which includes recognising and respecting New Zealand’s cultural diversity:
      3. The need to recognise the unique position of Māori:
      4. The need for every participant to be guided by the charter of the student’s school:
      5. The need for every participant to recognise that the Board has a responsibility to maintain a safe and effective learning environment at the student’s school.