Schools get smarter at discipline

NZHerald 29 Jan 2013 Fewer suspensions and expulsions do not mean kids are behaving better, writes Vaimoana Tapaleao. The number of students being stood down for bad behaviour is at its lowest point for more than a decade. Suspensions and exclusions are slightly lower than previous years and the number of pupils being expelled from school is also the lowest it has been in years. But principals, teachers and other experts say there is still an increasing number of children who are difficult to handle and that schools simply had better restorative programmes in place now – rather than children becoming better behaved. The latest figures on stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsion rates, released by the Ministry of Education, show a drop in all areas. In particular, stand-down rates have fallen for the fifth consecutive year since peaking in 2006. Back then, the age-standardised stand-down rate stood at 30.9 per 1000 students. The numbers fell to 24.5 stand-downs per 1000 students in 2011. Maori pupils and male students in particular continue to top the number of stand-downs.