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Behaviour support in schools

Schools have a responsibility to make sure they are safe and positive for everyone. The information on this page describes how schools may respond to student’s concerning behaviour that affects the school community’s safety and learning. Principals can use suspension or exclusion to respond to concerning behaviour.

This page provides information on the process for suspension and exclusion including:

  • how learning centres and better behaviour centres support positive, safe and inclusive behaviour
  • how the student will be reconnected with the school community after a suspension or exclusion period
  • relevant appeal and complaints processes
  • link to the suspension and exclusion information for parents and carers factsheet.

Behaviour support policy

The education department’s Behaviour support policy:

  • applies to all South Australian public schools
  • takes a positive behaviour support approach
  • helps schools to be safe and positive learning places for everyone

The policy also makes sure behaviour support:

  • is fair
  • reflects students’ needs.

School responsibility

All South Australian public schools must:

  • follow the education department’s Behaviour support policy
  • have their own behaviour support policy or behaviour code available.

The policy can be on the school’s website or at the school.

Schools need to:

  • promote safe and positive student behaviour
  • support the participation of all students
  • respond to all behaviours of concern
  • refer students to external or department services when they need extra support.

Responding to behaviour of concern

Schools will respond to all behaviours of concern. This includes behaviour that takes place outside school hours or off school grounds when there’s a reasonable connection between the behaviour and the school or school relationships. For example:

  • behaviour that happened on the way to or from school
  • behaviour while wearing school uniform or representing the school
  • behaviour while on school excursions or camps
  • in person or online behaviour towards another student or school staff. This includes in the evening or at the weekend.

Consequences for behaviours of concern might include suspension or exclusion. This can happen if:

  • the grounds for suspension or exclusion are met under the law
  • and

  • it is the most appropriate response in the individual circumstances.

Suspension and exclusion responses are only used:

  • as a last resort to support safe and positive behaviour
  • when other responses are not enough to help the student to behave safely and positively.

If a student's behaviour is causing concern, the school will contact parents or carers to:

  • give them information about the behaviour
  • discuss what the reasons for the behaviour might be
  • discuss what might help support safe and positive behaviour.

The best way to resolve behaviours of concern is for everyone to work together. This includes the school, parents or carers and students involved.

The education department’s behaviour support policy explains how everyone can work together to support safe and positive behaviour.

Suspension

Suspension from school:

  • is a short term response to concerning student behaviour that affects the safety and learning of others
  • means that the student does not attend school for between 1 and 5 school days
  • is decided by the principal
  • cannot be for more than 15 school days or 4 times in one school year without the approval of the Education Director.

The length of the suspension is decided by the principal. It depends on more than one factor. For example:

  • the student’s behaviour - how serious it is and how often is happens
  • how the student has responded to behaviour consequences in the past.

Reasons for suspension

Principals can suspend students when they believe on reasonable grounds that the student has:

  • threatened or perpetrated violence
  • acted in a way that threatens the safety or wellbeing of a student, staff member or other person associated with the school. This includes by:
    • sexually harassing
    • racially vilifying
    • verbally abusing
    • bullying that person
  • acted illegally
  • interfered with the ability of a teacher to teach students or of a student to learn
  • acted in a way that threatens the good order of the school by persistently failing to comply with the school rules about behaviour
  • shown persistent and wilful inattention or indifference to schoolwork.

See the Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 for more.

The suspension process

The school explains the reason for the suspension to the student and their parents or carers.

The student and their parents or carers are given a Notice of suspension from school which tells them:

  • how many days the student is suspended for
  • the date the student should return to school
  • the reason for the suspension.

Parents and carers are given the suspension and exclusion information for parents and carers fact sheet.

The suspension (between 1 and 5 days) starts on the first school day after the suspension decision.

Reconnection meetings

During the suspension, a reconnection meeting must be held to:

  • plan the student’s reconnection to the school, staff, students and their learning
  • develop a behaviour support plan to support safe and positive behaviour.

The people at the reconnection meeting include:

  • the student
  • school staff (for example, principal, other school leaders, teacher, Aboriginal education worker, support staff)
  • the student’s parents or carers.

Other people who can attend the meeting are:

  • education department staff (for example a behaviour support coach, special educator, social worker or Aboriginal education worker)
  • a support person invited by the student, parent or carer (for example, someone from the student’s family, a social worker, support worker or disability advocate)
  • other people who might help (for example, service providers or interpreters).

If a parent or carer cannot attend a reconnection meeting before the student is due to return to school, the student needs to return to school in an alternative program. While this happens, the school can either:

  • set up a reconnection meeting
  • or develop the behaviour support plan in some other way.

Staying off school grounds

It is against the law for a suspended student to be on school grounds while suspended unless the principal has given written permission. This also applies to anyone who helps or encourages the student.

Appeals and complaints

There is no formal appeal process for a suspension from school.

If you can’t resolve things with your child’s school, you can make a complaint online to the education department’s Customer Feedback Unit or by calling 1800 677 435.

Exclusion

Exclusion from school:

  • is a longer term response to serious student behaviour that affects the safety and learning of others
  • means that the student does not attend school for between 4 and 10 calendar weeks or the rest of the school term
  • can only happen if the student has first been suspended for between 1 and 5 school days
  • is decided by the principal
  • cannot be for more than 20 weeks in one calendar year without the approval of the Education Director.

The length of the exclusion is decided by the principal. It depends on a few considerations. For example:

  • the student’s behaviour - how serious it is and how often it happens
  • how the student has responded to behaviour consequences in the past.

Reasons for exclusion

Principals can exclude students when they believe on reasonable grounds that the student has:

  • threatened or perpetrated violence
  • acted in a way that threatens the safety or wellbeing of a student, staff member or other person associated with the school. This includes by:
    • sexually harassing
    • racially vilifying
    • verbally abusing
    • bullying that person
  • acted illegally
  • interfered with the ability of a teacher to teach students or of a student to learn
  • acted in a way that threatens the good order of the school by persistently failing to comply with the school rules about behaviour.

See the Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 for more.

The exclusion process

The school explains to the student and their parents or carers why the principal is thinking about excluding the student.

A suspension pending directions notice is given to the student and their parents or carers. The notice suspends the student for up to 5 days.

The school gives parents and carers the suspension and exclusion information for parents and carers fact sheet.

The suspension starts on the first school day after the suspension decision.

During the suspension, a directions conference is held to discuss the behaviour and what should happen next. The people at the conference include:

  • the student
  • school staff (for example, principal, other school leaders, teacher, Aboriginal education worker, support staff)
  • the student’s parents or carers.

Other people who can attend the meeting are:

  • education department staff (for example, behaviour support coach, special educator, social worker, Aboriginal education worker)
  • a support person invited by the student, parent or carer (for example, extended family member, social worker, support worker or disability advocate)
  • other people who may help (for example, service providers, interpreters).

The principal will consider everyone’s information provided at the directions conference. The principal decides if the student will be excluded.

If there is no exclusion

If the principal decides against an exclusion:

  • the student can return to school at the end of the suspension
  • the student’s reconnection to other students, school staff and learning is discussed
  • a behaviour support plan is developed to support the student’s safe and positive behaviour.

If there is an exclusion

If there is an exclusion, the school gives the student and their parents or carers a written Notice of exclusion from school. This tells them:

  • the start and end dates of the exclusion
  • the reason for the exclusion
  • the date of the reconnection meeting. This must be held before the student returns to school.

Parents and carers are then:

  • told about the appeal process
  • given the paperwork to make an appeal.

Students 16 years and under are given an alternative learning program. For example:

  • an alternative program in the student’s own school
  • placement in another school
  • placement at a learning centre
  • an Open Access program
  • learning at home.

A behaviour support plan is developed.

During the exclusion, the student’s progress is monitored weekly.

A mid-exclusion review is held to:

  • review the student’s progress with their learning and behaviour goals
  • update the behaviour support plan, if required.

Reconnection meetings

Before the student can return to school, a reconnection meeting is held. This is a way to review the student’s progress against identified learning and behaviour goals. If it is agreed that the goals have been met:

  • the student can restart their usual schooling
  • the behaviour support plan is updated. This is done with the student, parents or carers, school staff and other relevant people.

If exclusion goals are not met

If the student did not meet their exclusion goals, the school can extend the exclusion period. The exclusion cannot be for more than 10 weeks in total or the rest of the school term. This includes the original period of exclusion and the extension.

If reconnection meetings do not happen in time

If a parent or carer cannot attend a reconnection meeting before the student is due to return to school, the student needs to return to school in an alternative program. While this happens, the school can:

  • reschedule the meeting
  • develop the behaviour support plan in some other way.

Staying off school grounds

It is against the law for an excluded student (and any person who helps or encourages the student) to be on school grounds while excluded unless the principal has given written permission.

Appeals and complaints

The process and paperwork to appeal against an exclusion from school is provided at the directions conference. A student, parent or carer or another adult acting at the request of the student, parent or carer may appeal against the decision to:

  • exclude
  • extend an exclusion.

An appeal can be lodged on the following grounds:

  • the exclusion process was not followed properly
  • information considered in the decision to exclude was not correct
  • inappropriate length or conditions of exclusion.

You can find out more information about appeals from your child’s school principal. You can also call the local education office. Call 8226 1000.

If you can’t resolve things with your child’s school, you can make a complaint online to the education department’s Customer Feedback Unit or by calling 1800 677 435.

Learning centres

Learning centres work in partnership with, schools, students, parents, carers, and support services to provide education programs. These programs are:

  • short-term
  • targeted and
  • restorative.

The learning centres are for:

  • students (15 years and under) who have been excluded from school
  • students who need behaviour and education support not available in their own school.

To access the learning centre, students need a referral from:

  • the school principal (or a school leader acting for the principal)
  • a member of the education department’s Student Support Services.

What learning centres do

Learning centres provide:

  • programs to support students’ safe and positive behaviour
  • teaching to meet the individual learning needs of students, including literacy and numeracy support
  • explicit teaching of social and emotional skills
  • support to transition back to school
  • pathways to appropriate educational programs
  • professional development for school staff about behaviour.

Learning centres aim to support the return of students to their own schools. They focus on literacy, numeracy, social and emotional skills to support student behaviour and learning.

Social skills programs

Students who go to a Learning Centre program will learn social skills. These skills are included in all learning. They are taught explicitly in topics:

  • effective communication to build positive relationships
  • recognising and managing emotions to keep safe and have their needs met
  • classroom and personal learning skills.

Contact

Learning and Behaviour Unit - Department for Education
Email: EducationLBU@sa.gov.au
Phone: 8226 3065

Better Behaviour Centres

Better behaviour centres work in partnership with, schools, students, parents, carers, and support services to provide education programs.

These programs are designed to:

  • provide early intervention support
  • keep students connected with mainstream education
  • support professional development for school staff about behaviour.

Students enrolled at a centre are supported by a team of staff to engage in a learning program designed to meet their individual needs. This includes explicitly focusing on:

  • literacy
  • numeracy
  • social and emotional skills.

Each centre provides social and emotional support for students and families. Involving families makes sure there is a team approach to supporting safe and positive behaviour.

There are 2 regional centres for secondary students in years 8 to 10:

  • Murray Bridge High School
  • Port Lincoln High School.

Students attend the secondary programs fulltime for up to two terms.

There are 4 metropolitan centres for primary students in years 3 to 7:

  • Elizabeth East Primary School
  • Salisbury Downs Primary School
  • Woodville Primary School and
  • Huntfield Heights Primary School.

Students attend the primary programs two days per week for up to four terms.

All students stay enrolled at their own school while attending a Better Behaviour Centre.

Contact

Learning and Behaviour Unit - Department for Education
Email: EducationLBU@sa.gov.au
Phone: 8226 3065

Concerns about behaviour

If you're concerned about your child's behaviour or how your child's school is supporting your child, contact the school and make a time to speak with their teacher, school leader or the principal.

If you can’t resolve things with your child’s school, you can make a complaint online to the education department’s Customer Feedback Unit or by calling 1800 677 435.


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Page last updated 1 July 2020

Provided by:
Department for Education
URL:
https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/education-and-learning/schools/school-life/behaviour-management-and-discipline
Last Updated:
01/07/20
Printed on:
13/07/20
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2020
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