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.

Requesting a reconsideration

  • The board's role
      1. At a reconsideration meeting, the board has a completely separate role from the principal. The board reviews the principal’s report and decides whether the student has failed to comply with the conditions.
      2. If the board agrees that the student has failed to comply with the conditions, it may then reconsider the original decision.

      * NOTE: The reconsideration meeting relates to considering a possible failure to comply with conditions and finding a way forward. It is not a new suspension meeting or an appeal process. The original incident is not revisited.

      [Refer Part II, Section 3: 10 Suspension conditions]

  • How to hold a reconsideration meeting
    • Flexibility

      1. How a reconsideration meeting is run is a matter for each board and the format does not have to be overly formal or court-like. Also the Act does not provide for the calling of witnesses at a reconsideration meeting; this is inappropriate. Significant disputes about facts should have already been raised, decided upon and recorded by the principal in their report. Instead, the focus is on reviewing compliance with conditions, hearing from everyone and finding a way forward.

      Hearing from the student

      1. The student, the student’s parents, and their representatives are entitled to attend the reconsideration meeting, speak at it and have their views considered by the board before it makes its decision.
      2. You may, however, proceed with reconsidering the suspension if they choose not to attend or participate.


      1. While you are deliberating and making your decision, you must either:
        1. a require all the other parties to withdraw from the meeting; or
        2. ask all the other parties to stay at the meeting.
      1. If the student and parents are asked to withdraw from a meeting then the principal must withdraw too. The principal has a different role to other trustees at a suspension meeting and is not there as a decision maker. If you deliberate in private with the principal or ask the principal questions in the absence of the student and parents this may lead to accusations of bias.
  • Understanding board's options
      1. The board must make only one of the following four decisions:
      If you decide the student should:then you must:
      attend your school again full time lift the suspension without conditions
      attend your school again full time but have further specific responsibilities placed on them lift the suspension with conditions
      remain out of your school for a set period of time in order to fulfil specific responsibilities placed on them extend the suspension for a reasonable period with conditions (aimed at facilitating the return of the student to school)
      leave your school exclude the student if he or she is under 16 or expel the student if he or she is over 16

      [Refer Part II, Appendix, Model letters: Letter 5 – Letter following reconsideration]