29 March 2019Share
Suspending students from school often does more harm than good and should be scrapped, new ACU research shows.
School psychologist Daniel Quin, who surveyed suspended students across Victoria as part of his psychology studies in the National School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, said the practice was failing vulnerable kids when they need support the most.
His research follows calls from some principals for misbehaving students to serve suspensions at school - where they can work under supervision - instead of staying home.
A registered teacher who works as a psychologist in two Melbourne schools, Dr Quin said many children with behaviour disorders were being suspended because they couldn’t regulate their emotions.
“They have the most to benefit for being in a classroom, but they’re the most likely to be removed,” he said.
Dr Quin, who recently presented his research at the APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists Conference in Hobart, surveyed 304 children from five public, independent and Catholic schools in metropolitan and regional Victoria.
One in four students, aged 12 to 17, had been suspended before.
The study found many suspended students were removed because they lacked the social and emotional skills to regulate their actions, but such disciplinary action increased the likelihood of developing behavioural disorders.
While suspension could give teachers and other students relief and maintain discipline it also exposed students to academic failure and anti-social behaviour.
Dr Quin said his research supported scrapping suspensions, except in the most extreme cases where students brought weapons or drugs to school.
“But the reality is most students are suspended for talking out of turn, being disruptive, swearing, and oddly, for being absent, which is just counterintuitive,’’ he said.
While teachers and schools had access to training and resources, Dr Quin said removing a child from school put the onus on families, who often didn’t have those skills.