More suspensions, teacher power in NSW schools shake-up

Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS

Teachers and principals could have more authority to suspend and expel students as part of a push to improve student behaviour in schools.

The NSW government announced a revised behaviour policy would be rolled out to the state's public schools before the end of the year.

Educators are providing feedback on the proposed changes which include measures to give schools more authority to manage student behaviour.

Under the proposed changes, principals could impose suspensions longer than five days for students in kindergarten to year 2 and 10 days for those in years 3 to 12 without needing approval from education officials.

There would be no limit on how many times a school could suspend a student and the changes would also reinstate continued disobedience and disruption as behaviours punishable by suspension.

Schools would require approval from the department for suspensions longer than 30 days for kindergarten to year 2 students and 45 days for years 3 to 12.

Teachers would still be expected to use positive teaching strategies in the classroom to minimise disruptions and encourage a good learning environment.

Education Minister Prue Car said students and teachers had a right to learn and work in safe classrooms.

"We have heard loud and clear from teachers and principals that the procedures introduced by the former government did not enable safe and respectful classrooms to be maintained for students and staff," she said.

"Our schools must be safe learning environments and our staff must have the support and authority they need to manage disruptive and challenging student behaviours."

NSW Teachers Federation acting president Henry Rajendra said the proposed changes would prioritise the rights of educators to teach and students to learn in a disruption-free environments.

"The procedures restore and uphold the authority of principals and teachers to manage student behaviour with such decisions supported by the department," he said.

"(They) replace the flawed documents of the previous government that failed to acknowledge the professional judgment of principals and teachers nor guaranteed an orderly learning environment for children."

Mr Rajendra urged the government to also provide necessary additional specialist staffing and resources to assist schools to support students with complex needs.

The policy is expected to be released to NSW public schools in term 4, 2023 so that teachers can train and become familiar with the changes. 

It will then come into effect at the start of term 1, 2024.