Schools should have well set out and organised guidelines and policies on behaviour available to staff, students and parents. 

It is important that these guidelines are clear and accessible, especially for the students at the school, they need to know what is required of them behaviour wise so they can conduct themselves appropriately. Students are also more likely to feel safe and secure in a school with good discipline.

Teachers in New Zealand are not allowed to physically discipline students in their care. This means they are not allowed to hit, cane, slap or use their hands or an object in any way to punish.

Instead there are other means of punishing a student. These may include withdrawal of privileges, setting extra homework or keeping a student during lunchtime or after school for detention. The school’s Board of Trustees must approve these methods of punishment. In the case of after school detention, parents and caregivers should be informed before the student is required to attend the detention.

These punishments are used for ‘lesser’ misdemeanors like repeated disruption in a class, regular flouting of other classroom rules, disrespecting another person or their property and so on.

For more serious offences students may be stood-down or suspended from a school. To be stood-down means formal removal for a specified period. A student can not be stood-down for more than five days in any term, or ten days in a school year. Following a stand-down, the student returns automatically to school.

If the secondary student is over 16 years of age they may be expelled and not be allowed to return to the school. This would only happen if a student was thought to be behaving in a way that set a dangerous example to other students or was a possible threat to their safety.

Often before a student is expelled they will be placed on suspension. This means the Board of Trustees formally removes the student from the school until the Board decides the outcome of the student’s actions at a suspension meeting.

Schools must follow a formal procedure if they wish to suspend or expel a student. The school or the NZ Ministry of Education can provide information about these procedures.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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