More Bay students stood down

By MORGAN TAIT

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Stand-downs totalling a third of the roll were issued at one Hawke's Bay school last year, as official punishment rates throughout the region increased.

Flaxmere College issued 115 stand-downs at the school of just 325 pupils, figures released by the Ministry of Education under the Official Information Act showed. The school also issued 18 suspensions and 23 exclusions, but no expulsions.

Principal Louise Anaru did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2010, the school stood down only 40 students.

Overall, 875 stand-downs, 199 suspensions, 86 exclusions, and nine expulsions were recorded in state and state-integrated schools from Wairoa to Dannevirke last year.

That was up from 790, 189, 60 and eight, respectively, from 2010.

William Colenso College principal Daniel Murfitt said student behaviour was a reflection of issues in the wider community and nationwide. ``These extreme behaviours are behaviours that have generated in society, in homes and, in my experience, it also comes down to families living in poverty, and sometimes generational poverty.''

Suspensions at his school had risen from 16 in 2010 to 20 last year, and exclusions from six to 12.

``It's higher because we are taking a tougher stance,'' Mr Murfitt said. ``Our suspensions are around student safety _ that's our key priority.''

Mr Murfitt said the school had found an effective solution using ``restorative practices'', where a student could not return to school until they had met the victims of their behaviour.

Fewer resources made it more difficult to deal with higher-needs students, he said.

``When there is less available resources in the community to support these students, then we can't put further processes in place to keep them engaged in school.

``We have lost a number of funding channels that we used to get for children with severe behavioural problems.

``There's a very, very small minority who restorative practice is not working for, so for them that's where we need resources.''

Last year, the number one reason for stand-downs in Hawke's Bay was physical assault on other students (233), followed by continual disobedience (194) and verbal assaults on staff (146).

Other reasons included theft (73), drugs (60) and harmful or dangerous behaviour (54).

For schools that suspended students, continual disobedience was again the leading cause (51), followed closely by drugs (48) and physical assault on other students (39).

Exclusions stemmed again from continual disobedience (25), and were followed equally by drugs and physical assault on other students (18).

Five students were expelled because of physical assault on other students, and two were expelled for continual disobedience.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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