Impacts of legislative change on student disciplinary absences in Queensland state schools 2012 to 2016

Year: 2018

Author: Graham, Linda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study analyses student disciplinary absence (enrolment cancellation, exclusion and suspension) rates in Queensland state schools for the five years from 2012-2016 to investigate the impact of legislative changes extending principals’ powers to respond to disruptive student behaviour.  The research indicates that the provision of alternative disciplinary options, including Saturday detentions and community service, failed to curb increases in the use of enrolment cancellations and exclusions and finds that suspensions increased at almost double the rate of enrolment growth.  Analysis of yearly suspension rates reveals two specific calendar years and two particular grade levels in which there were very large increases in suspension.  These specific periods are associated with a number of changes to education policy in Queensland, suggesting that the move to extend principals’ power to suspend interacted with other major reforms occurring within that same time period.  The results of this research clearly highlight the role of education policy and school environments in rising school suspension rates, as opposed to indicating a decline in student behaviour.