22 Jul 2008

Disobedient school student numbers rise

8:19 am on 22 July 2008

Suspensions of school students are at their lowest in eight years. Overall 20,000 pupils were stood down, with 4500 being suspended.

Suspensions for misuse of drugs are down by 39%.

Drugs at school are now being treated as a health issue rather than a case for expulsion. Students are being allowed to stay under certain conditions - such as counselling and drug testing.

The Secondary Principals Association says it's a very political issue as high suspensions are not a good look and a waste of potential. The Ministry of Education is against a "zero tolerance" approach.

There has been a rise of 6% in cases of continual disobedience and a rise of 11% in physical assaults.

Altogether, 67% of all suspensions are for disobedience, assaults and verbal abuse of teachers.

Radio New Zealand's education correspondent says one reason for the lower numbers of suspensions is what's known as the Lynfield case.

Lynfield College is waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeal over a ruling in the High Court last year which forced the school to reinstate an expelled student, aged 16.

If the college loses, it will mean a quite different approach to how schools deal with disciplinary issues.

A long standing trend of boys being twice as likely as girls to be suspended, continues. Maori students are also four times more likely to be suspended than Pakeha students.