Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions guidelines – Part 2

About the guidelines

These guidelines:

  • are designed to assist school boards, principals, and teachers with their legal options and duties and meet their obligations under relevant statutory requirements, and
  • are for use in all state and state-integrated schools.

Independent schools may also wish to adopt this guide.

Please note: in the documents below the Education and Training Act 2020 has replaced the Education Act 1989.

The guidelines comprise:

Part 1: Legal options and duties [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Part 2: Good practice [PDF, 2.4 MB]

These guidelines replace those published by the Ministry of Education in June 2004 and the 2007 Supplement. The paragraphs have been numbered for ease of use and reference. Cross-references to Part 1 – Legal options and duties are given where relevant.

Licensing Criteria Cover

10. Suspension conditions

Boards have the ability to effect change and modify student behaviour through suspension conditions. Conditions targeting individual behaviour and individual needs can be extremely effective when they are correctly matched to the student and their completion is monitored. When imposing suspension conditions, it may be helpful to consider the following:

  • Purpose of conditions
    • Minimising the disruption to a student’s attendance at school and facilitating the return of the student to school are key considerations when setting suspension conditions.

      The conditions should relate to the behaviour or cause of behaviour that led to the suspension. A student cannot be expected to meet conditions that they have no direct influence upon or control over.

      Ask these questions of your school

      Have we set suspension conditions that are related to something the student is to complete?

      Note: While it is helpful for a school to have a plan of action that includes school and other agency support, these actions are not suspension conditions. Imposing a condition that requires another party to complete an action is not within the control of the student to complete.

      Why are we imposing these conditions with a suspension? Do the conditions reflect the goal of changing behaviour to enable the student to return to school?

      Have we considered whether the conditions are fair? Are they designed to be rehabilitative rather than punitive? [Refer Part I: Fair and reasonable, Natural justice]

      Note: Behaviour management programmes that help students to learn self-discipline or change behaviour can help students re-engage at school and should not be used as a form of punishment.

  • Specific conditions
    • Conditions are more likely to be attainable if they are set in consultation with the student and the family.

      Ask these questions of your school

      Are the conditions we have set specific? Do the conditions outline who is involved, what is to be done and where the conditions are to be completed? Do they detail the timeframes for completion and identify any requirements and/or constraints (who will pay for any costs)? Is there a specific reason, purpose or benefit for completing the conditions?

      Are the conditions we have set objectively measurable? How can we measure progress towards achievement? Have we considered... how much? How many? How will we know when conditions are completed?

      Are the conditions we have set attainable? Are they reasonable conditions?

      Are the conditions we have set realistic? Can they be easily met? Have we set the benchmark too high? Do our conditions help the student to grow and learn? Do our conditions impose any undue cost upon the family?

      Do the conditions we have set have a timeframe for completion? How will we all know when the conditions have been met/not met? How will we know if there has been a breach of the conditions?

      Do we look back on previous conditions to see which are more likely to be workable and effective? Have we recorded this anywhere for future reference?

  • Useful links
      • Information about the Human Rights Act can be sourced from The Human Rights Commission, Auckland (09) 309 0874, Wellington (04) 473 9981, Christchurch (03) 379 2015 or information line 0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS (0800 496 877)
      • Information and rules about the stand-down, suspension, exclusion and expulsion process
      • The New Zealand Schools Trustees Association (NZSTA) represents and provides services to boards of trustees across New Zealand. NZSTA provides governance support services, industrial relations and advice free of charge. Boards of trustees can access the NZSTA National Office Trusteeship helpdesk for all matters relating to trusteeship. The Helpdesk is staffed five days a week during office hours, 8:00am to 5:00pm. 0800 STA HELP (0800 782 4357), fax (04) 473 4706, email helpdesk@nzsta.org.nz
  • Examples of suspension conditions
    • Example 1

      The board wanted the student to return to school to undertake drug and alcohol counselling. The board lifted the suspension and set a specific condition regarding counselling. An example of a specific condition would have been for the student to ‘undergo eight drug and alcohol counselling sessions, between 1 September and 20 December 2009, with the [ABCD] Rehabilitation Services located at [ABCD] Main Road, to work on ways to stop harmful drug and alcohol usage. The cost will be met by [ABCD].’

      Prior to the board meeting, the principal had prepared information about local drug and alcohol services, locations, vacancies and cost. These were discussed in consultation with the family.

      Example 2

      The board extended the suspension for three school weeks with a specific condition that the student would attend anger management counselling before they returned to school. The condition being to undergo two sessions with [ABCD] provider within the three-week period. Cost will be met by [ABCD].

      The principal used the time available to organise support for the student upon his return to school.