The largest age group of students stood down from school in the Bay last year were 14-year-olds, according to new Ministry of Education figures.

There were 981 stand downs last year in the Bay of Plenty, compared to 821 in 2015.

Students aged 13 to 15 accounted for 51 per cent of all stand downs. The rate was the highest for 14-year-olds, which accounted for 56.6 stand downs per 1000 students.

A total of 32.2 per 1000 students were aged 10 to 14 and 26 per 1000 students were 15 and older.

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Tauranga figures showed 25.5 of every 1000 students were aged 10 to 14 and 28.1 per 1000 Western Bay of Plenty students were aged 10 to 14.

A total of 30 Western Bay students of every 1000 were aged 15 and over.

Bethlehem College principal Eoin Crosbie said the school would suspend or stand down over two or three students per year.

"We are strong on our restorative practice," he said. "We always adopt a restorative option in the first instance."

Mr Crosbie said stand downs and suspensions were only used in the event of serious misbehaviour or ongoing problems.

"If it is consistent and the behaviour does not change over time, then we do tend to use the mechanism of a suspension or a stand down.

"Normally it works. It is very effective at making the tide go in when it is going out, or making it go out when it keeps coming in."

He said schools nationwide had put a huge amount of effort and resource into behaviour and attitude.

"There has been a huge change in the way we do discipline nowadays. We try to get students to own the harm they do to others, to walk in another's shoes and to try and put right what has gone wrong."

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell said stand down figures had decreased and he credited the school's restorative process and "culture of learning philosophy".

"We have not suspended a student for five years," he said. "Our ethos of the 'Otumoetai way' is certainly working."

Students were stood down for up to five days and automatically returned to school. They cannot be stood down for a total of more than five days in a school term or 10 days in a school year.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said principals stood students down in response to concerning behaviours including continual disobedience, vandalism, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence.

"Such behaviour can not only disrupt the student's learning but can be disruptive and unsafe for their peers and school staff.

"Stand downs offer a chance to reduce tension and give the student time to reflect on their actions."

Used appropriately, a stand down could be a mechanism for preventing escalation, she said.

"However, they should be used as part of a proactive approach and kept to a minimum because they also impact on the student's opportunity to learn."

Ms Casey said despite an increasing use of cellphone video making physical assaults on students more visible, the number of assaults had fallen from a high of 7.3 per 1000 stand downs in 2006 to 5.8 per 1000 stand downs in 2016.

BAY STAND DOWN FIGURES:

- The Bay is below last year's national average of 26.0 stand downs per 1000 students.
- A total of 18.5 Bay students per 1000 were stood down last year.

TAURANGA:
- In Tauranga, 15.0 per 1000 students were stood down last year.
- A total of 19.6 per 1000 students were male and 10.2 per 1000 students were female.
- A total of 36.2 per 1000 students were Pasifika students and 28.8 of every 1000 students were Maori

WESTERN BAY:
- In Western Bay, 18.7 per 1000 students were stood down.
- A total of 31.1 per 1000 students were male and 6.1 per 1000 students were female.
- A total of 31.6 per 1000 were Maori, 27.6 per 1000 students were Pasifika and none were Asian.
- Out of every 1000 students, 41.7 were of other ethnicities.