Search

(Australia) Schools fail "to keep pace with the increase in diagnosed behavioural difficulties"

Aug 20, 2017, Melbourne, Australia, Herald Sun: Schools need to be able to use expulsions as a last resort http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/schools-need-to-be-able-to-use-expulsions-as-a-last-resort/news-story/ee4fe921117c2341de3dbe2475af6535 THE Ombudsman released a report into school expulsions last week and it’s a doozy. It fails where bureaucratic reports often do, in having no connection to the real world. It’s 100 pages of “can’t we all just hug it out”. And it’s unfair to Victoria’s schools and principals. First, the facts. There were 932,107 students enrolled in state, Catholic and independent schools across our state last year. Of that number, 278 were expelled. An extraordinarily low number. But nevertheless, we have spent money on an investigation, report and recommendations. And what is obvious is not that principals are getting rid of troublesome pupils without cause, but that the system is failing to keep pace with the increase in diagnosed behavioural difficulties in our classrooms. For instance, a grade 1 student with autism, ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, anxiety and depression joined a school in term 3. He had the support of a teacher’s aide — but for 10 hours a week. Two hours a day for a boy who banged his head on walls when he was anxious. By grade 2, his parents were being called to pick him up regularly and he was eventually expelled for “trashing the classroom”. But wasn’t that the obvious outcome? The kid needed more help than the system was willing or able to provide, but that’s not the fault of his school. Where the report also lacks insight is how principals manage the expectations of the school community when students who misbehave are allowed to stay. How does a school explain to the victim of a kick, bite or punch that they will continue to be in the same class as the bully? The report also criticises principals for not providing enough evidence that they have investigated incidents properly. Principals are not police; imagine the outrage from civil libertarians if teachers searched lockers, school bags, patted down kids or installed security cameras to gather a case....