Green light for tougher school discipline powers

Published Thursday, 31 October, 2013 at 03:36 PM

Minister for Education, Training and Employment
The Honourable John-Paul Langbroek

Queensland’s state school principals will have greater discipline powers to manage disruptive student behaviour from the start of the 2014 school year.

Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek said the Education (Strengthening Discipline in State Schools) Amendment Bill 2013 had been passed by Queensland Parliament heralding major improvements for state school operations.

“The Newman Government has listened to our principals,” Mr Langbroek said.

“I have held more than 30 principals’ forums with hundreds of principals, where school leaders have asked for the power to respond to behavioural issues as well as be freed from excessive paperwork and bureaucracy.

“This new legislation will give principals the increased authority they’ve been asking for.

“Good order and discipline in schools are crucial to boosting our high quality education system.

“Greater flexibility will allow principals to manage student discipline issues by using existing and additional intervention tools such as community service and discipline improvement plans.”

Mr Langbroek said the Newman Government reform was aimed at reducing exclusions and suspensions because principals would now have more scope to find alternatives that were appropriate to individual students’ situations.

“In August when the Bill was introduced to parliament I explained that the ‘one size fits all’ approach did not work and that we needed to give principals the powers to implement solutions that best fit the unique needs of each student, school and community,” he said.

“This is about empowering Queensland schools to work with their school community to develop behaviour and disciplinary standards that reflect the expectations of their local community.”

Strengthening school discipline is one of the 15 strategies developed as part of the Newman Government’s Great Teachers = Great Results ground-breaking education plan to improve teacher quality, boost school autonomy and give young Queenslanders the best possible start in life.

Following today’s passage of the Bill, the Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE) will implement a newly developed action plan.

“From 2014, the changes will expand principals’ abilities to discipline a student for actions outside school that adversely impact other students, the good order and management of the school, or pose a risk to the safety and wellbeing of students and staff,” Mr Langbroek said.

“Student disciplinary measures will also be able to be carried out on non-school days, for example – Saturday detention.

“Short term suspensions have been extended from up to five school days to up to ten school days and long term suspensions can be between 11 to 20 school days.

“The Bill also bolsters the grounds for suspension and exclusion and includes students who are charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.”

Mr Langbroek said that while principals would be granted more power, there would also be higher expectations about how they manage issues within their community.

“All state schools will have a discipline audit from an experienced principal before the end of 2014, which will assist schools to benchmark their progress in strengthening discipline and provide an independent view of where there is room for improvement,” he said.

Mr Langbroek said the changes included an enhanced commitment to alternative learning centres that provide highly specialised support to students with the most complex needs.

“Schools still have an obligation to provide an education program to all students, including those who have been suspended and proposed for exclusion from school.”

Mr Langbroek said the Newman Government was committed to revitalising front line services for families and working with our schools to ensure Queensland remained a great state with great opportunities.

[ENDS] 31 October 2013                                         

Media contact: Danita Goodwin 0439 886 652