Students will now have the opportunity to be heard before a panel of experts as expulsion guidelines change throughout schools in Victoria.
Designed to increase fairness, the new guidelines released this month are giving greater flexibility to school principals on suspension and expulsion.
Stronger partnerships with parents, autonomy and the idea to eliminate complicated procedures were the key points state government incorporated into the new guidelines to help improve the wellbeing of students and staff at Victorian schools.
Education Minister Martin Dixon said the new Ministerial Order on suspension and expulsion was designed to assist local decision-making where the needs of students are best understood.
“Suspensions and expulsions are the absolute last resort when it comes to a school’s disciplinary tools, and the existing guidelines make the process more cumbersome than it needs to be for everyone involved,” he said.
“The new Ministerial Order simplifies the process and gives school principals – who know their students best and who are accountable to their parents and the local community – the ability to make the decisions themselves.”
A group of discipline and wellbeing experts will now be available to support principals in the process during an expulsion.
A key element of the Ministerial Order, experts can be enlisted by principals any stage during the expulsion to help develop an approach that best meets a student’s needs.
Before an expulsion goes ahead, mandatory meetings will be held giving students and their supporting adult an opportunity to be heard.
“The Victorian government has listened to feedback from parents who want to make sure they have access to independent oversight where necessary under the new model,” Mr Dixon said.
The Ministerial Order will come into effect on March 1, 2014 and guidance for schools will be issued at the start of the new year.
The guidelines will also be expanded to capture other grounds for suspensions and expulsion, including bringing weapons to school, behaving in a way that is dangerous, or in other ways impacting adversely on the learning of other students.