Latest School Disciplinary Absence data shows improvement

Minister for Education and Minister for Youth Justice The Honourable Di Farmer
  • The Minister for Education and Youth Justice today hosted a roundtable of experts and stakeholders to improve responses to increasingly complex student need and behaviour.
  • The roundtable delivers on a commitment from the Government for further consultation on proposed amendments to the Education (General Provisions) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024.
  • The Department of Education today released the 2023 School Disciplinary Absence (SDA) data, which shows a decrease in SDAs compared to pre-Covid levels.

Today the Minister for Education and Youth Justice convened a roundtable of experts and key stakeholders to improve responses to student behaviour in Queensland state schools – it coincided with the release of the 2023 School Disciplinary Absence data which showed improved results.

The Roundtable was the first-time principals, parent organisations, youth and human rights advocates, and unions came together to share their perspectives, identify opportunities, and confirm their commitment to better outcomes for every student.

The Government is supporting teachers and school leaders to respond to the needs of their increasingly complex school communities including new and increased investments, including:

  • wellbeing professionals in schools to support the work of educators,
  • more FlexiSpaces to provide in-school alternative learning,
  • new Intensive Education Case Managers to support students’ return to learning after an exclusion, and
  • expansion of alternative learning campuses.

Government will continue to work with stakeholders to develop and deliver a Queensland response to behaviour issues in our schools.

As stated by Education Minister Di Farmer:

“Today I hosted another really important Education meeting – this time to talk about the numbers of suspensions in schools.

“No matter who they are or where they are in Queensland, every child deserves the same access to a high-quality education and every teacher and principal I know and have spoken to, agrees.

“However, some students can be a challenge in the mainstream classroom, and sadly we are seeing teachers being physically and verbally abused daily.

“Today was about charting a path forward on this huge issue.

“I want to thank everyone for their frank and respectful conversations and am looking forwarded to charting a pathway forward.”

Scott Wiseman, President, P&Cs Queensland

“It’s the best way to approach it. It needs to have all stakeholders involved, including parents. “

“Parents have a big part to play in terms of children’s behaviour and what’s expected and what’s appropriate in the classroom and the respect that’s required in a school environment, parents need to be part of the solution.

“Having all the stakeholders around this provides a universal approach to solving the problem. We also need to focus that it’s not every child that has these issues.

“We don’t want to focus too much on the negatives – there’s lots of kids that do the right things, there’s lots of kids that also need help and extra support in the classroom as well.”

Erin Roberts, United Workers Union

“The Roundtable was a good opportunity to have open and frank conversations in terms of how we best support our teacher aides and school cleaners.”

Leon Epong, Chair, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and Training Advisory Committee

“What I’m hearing and seeing is here today what the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector have always talked about.

“It’s really good that it’s now a mainstream conversation, more so than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over here to the side just pushing it, because what’s come out in the groups is things that we have always championed and pushed for and it’s good to know that it’s definitely on the radar.

Andrew Thompson, President, Queensland Association of Special Education Leaders

“I think it was a positive morning, because it brought people from all walks of life together to get their perspective and I think the most common thought is that we need to do something different.

“We can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect different outcomes. We’ve got to change the way we think, change the way we accommodate students and put the student first.

“I’d like to see schools have the permission to be flexible in their delivery to meet the students’ needs. We can’t keep trying to force round people into a square hole. Let’s measure all things – let’s measure kids’ attendance.

“For some kids coming to school every day is a huge achievement and we should celebrate that.”

Cresta Richardson, President, Queensland Teachers Union

“I think everybody came together today to talk about the issues and the questions that we posed.

“I think everyone entered into the conversation in a really respectful and professional manner.

“Coming back together in a month or so will be good, and representing the needs of students, teachers and school leaders in our community is really important.

“I’d like to see that we can be on the same page and have the right amount of support delivered for students in our schools and allow our teachers to teach without being diverted by behaviour management issues and our school leaders to be able to lead their school strategically with all the support that they require.”

BACKGROUND:

In 2023, there were 1,026 fewer SDA incidents compared to 2019, prior to the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic to school attendance. This represents a decrease of 1.2% over that period, while the number of students enrolled in Queensland state schools increased by 1.7% over that same period.

While there has been an increase in the number of short suspensions (one to 10 days) since 2022, there has also been a decrease in long suspensions (11-20 days).

School Disciplinary Absence data can be found at the Department of Education’s website at: https://qed.qld.gov.au/publications/reports/statistics/schooling/students

School-level data is published in school annual report by 30 June and is not available prior to that publication.

SDA counts are not counts of students who received an SDA, as one student may experience multiple suspensions in a school year. Each suspension contributes to the overall count of SDAs.

Organisations represented at today’s roundtable included:

  • Queensland Association of State School Principals
  • Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association
  • Queensland Association of Special Education Leaders
  • Queensland Association of Combined Sectors Leaders
  • P&Cs Queensland
  • Queensland Teachers’ Union
  • Together Union
  • United Workers’ Union
  • Queensland Human Rights Commission
  • Queensland Family and Child Commission
  • Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and Training Advisory Committee
  • Queensland Ombudsman
  • Queensland College of Teachers
  • Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service
  • PeakCare
  • Youth Advocacy Centre
  • Youth Affairs Network Queensland
  • Community Resource Unit
  • Queenslanders with a Disability
  • Justice Reform Initiative
  • Capricorn Community Development Association
  • The Centre for Inclusive Education
  • Department of Youth Justice
  • Department of Education

Media – Tim Auguston 0427 090 563

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