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: 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 2 – Good practice are given where relevant.

When the suspension is extended with conditions

  • Principal's obligations
    • Keep the student on the roll

      1. The student must remain on your roll. They may only be removed if they:
        1. enrol at another school; or
        2. are granted an exemption from enrolment; or
        3. leave the school system altogether (if over 16).

      Provide an educational programme

      1. You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that an appropriate educational programme is provided to the student. The purpose of the programme is to facilitate the return of the student to school and to minimise the educational disadvantages that occur from absence from school.

      Consider guidance and counselling

      Do this as soon as practicable

      1. You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the student gets guidance and counselling that are reasonable and practicable in all the circumstances.
      2. To help you do this, consider that one of the aims of the suspension process is to “minimise the disruption to a student’s attendance at school and facilitate the return of the student to school when that is appropriate.” Consider attendance during an extended suspension.
      3. The student may attend school if the student or parent asks you to allow that for whatever reason; and you consider that the request is reasonable.
      4. The student must attend school if you reasonably consider that it is appropriate because either:
        1. the student’s educational programme requires it (the student might need to fulfil course requirements for a qualification or sit an examination); or
        2. the student needs to receive guidance and counselling.
      1. Otherwise, the student must not attend.

      Monitor the student

      1. You must take steps to ensure that the student’s progress is monitored when conditions have been set. The purpose of the conditions is to assist and support the student to return to school.
      2. If an extended suspension is for four weeks or more a report will need to be provided to the board at each regular board meeting. This report must comment on whether the student is meeting the conditions imposed and how they are progressing with the education programme you are providing for them.
      3. You must allow the student to return to school once either they have met the conditions set by the board or the extended suspension expires (whichever occurs first).

      * HINT: It is important to communicate timelines to the parent.

      Tell Ministry of Education

      Do this immediately

      1. Once the period of extended suspension has ended and the student has returned to school you must submit the “notification following extended suspension or following exclusion” electronic form in ENROL.
  • Board’s obligations
      1. The student remains the responsibility of the board of trustees while suspended.
      2. The student may only be removed from the school roll if they enrol at another school, are granted an exemption from enrolment; or leave the school system altogether (if over 16).

      Help the student’s return to school

      1. You must take appropriate steps to help the student return to school. What those steps are will depend on the particular situation. This is an obligation of the board, rather than individual trustees, and it is expected that in most cases your staff will carry out the required steps on your behalf.

      * HINT: Other agencies may assist the board to take appropriate steps to help the student return to school.

      Monitor the student’s progress

      1. If you extend a suspension for four weeks or more, you must monitor the student’s progress. At each regular board meeting after the suspension, you must make sure you receive a written report (from a person nominated by the board) on whether the student is meeting the conditions imposed and progressing with any educational programme provided.