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(New Zealand) "Suspensions disproportionately affect neurodiverse students"

Nov 25, 2022, Stuff: Students stood down almost 20,000 times this year, 15% more than 2017

The number of students sent home from school has increased by 15% in the past five years, with more than 19,500 stand-downs so far this year, government data shows.

However, a youth expert suspects the true number could be higher, saying schools sometimes stand-down and suspend students off the books.

August saw 3500 stand-downs across primary and secondary schools – the highest number in any month since 2017.

Oscar*, an 11-year-old with autism, anxiety and ADHD, was stood down twice in 2021 before he was kicked out of his school….

Despite a drop in 2020, the overall trend was rising, data obtained under the Official Information Act shows.

If a child behaves in a way likely to cause serious harm to themself or other students, they can be sent home for up to five days. Children can be stood down multiple times.

Dane Dougan from Autism NZ said stand-downs and exclusions

“It's not the child’s behaviour that you need to focus on. What you need to focus on is what triggers that behaviour.”…

Ministry of Education spokesperson Sean Teddy said schools were seeing an increase in “very challenging” behaviour, linked to “increasing complexity” in children’s lives.

Teddy said serious behaviour incidents were complex, with multiple causes, and required “flexible, multi-faceted” approaches.

“It is important to note that stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions are not measures of student behaviour, but measures of a school’s reaction to such behaviours,” Teddy said.

“We want to encourage and support schools to use reflective and restorative practices – asking what went wrong and why, how to repair any harm caused, and how to prevent it from happening again,” he said.


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