School suspensions up 43 per cent

SCHOOL suspensions across the Rose City increased by about 43 per cent between 2008 and 2009, figures released by Education Queensland this week show.

The figures show the number of short (1-5 days) and long (6-20 days) suspensions, recommendations for expulsion and cancellations of enrolments in all Queensland state schools between 2006 and 2009.

For Warwick – which includes West, East, Central, Glennie Heights and State High schools – the number of short and long suspensions jumped from 240 in 2008 to 421 last year.

Warwick State High School also recorded the highest number of cancellations of enrolments in the Darling Downs South West region with 10 in 2009.

The report also showed enrolment numbers had increased for two Rose City schools, with Warwick State High School going from 941 full-time enrolments in 2008 to 995 in 2009 and Warwick West (559 to 568).

Schools which showed a decline in enrolments were Glennie Heights, Warwick Central and Warwick East.

Southern Downs Industry Education Association manager Jackie Robertson firmly believes any students' misbehaviour relates to “the world they currently live in”.

“I fully support schools in their behaviour management policies – schools have a tough job in that they need to meet the needs of all their students and consider the safety of all their students,” Mrs Robertson said.

“The reality is, schools are micro-communities which are a direct reflection on the community in which they live.

“If their community sees an increase in criminal and anti-social behaviour, it is expected that this is reflected in schools and workplaces.”

Mrs Robertson said the increase in the number of suspensions in the Warwick district did not necessarily mean teachers were losing control.

“In fact, if there has been an increase in suspensions across the district you could take it to mean they are in better control and are using their power to deal with behavioural issues,” she said.

“I personally don't believe teachers are underpowered... there are steps all teachers can take to ensure inappropriate or unsafe behaviour is dealt with.”

Dealing with disengaged youth on a daily basis, Mrs Roberton and her team's role is to understand students and learn what makes them disconnect from their studies.

“Schools are a complex place – both primary and secondary – and some people don't realise that when students come to school each day they bring with them a whole range of problems they may be dealing with from their home or social lives,” she said.

“It's not easy for schools – they have to deal with things that are outside their control.”

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