Frequently Asked Questions

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Suspensions and expulsions - general questions 

 

​What are the rules and processes for suspensions and expulsions? 

All information about the suspension and expulsion processes is available at: Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance 

My child has been suspended or expelled from a non-government school. Do these guidelines apply to him/her? 

No, non-government schools have their own disciplinary procedures. You should ask your child’s school for further information on what their procedures are, or you can contact Independent Schools Victoria or your local Catholic Education Diocese.  

Independent Schools Victoria: (03) 9825 7200 or visit  Independent Schools Victoria

Catholic Education Office of Victoria: (03) 9267 0228 or visit: Catholic Education Commission Victoria

 

Roles in suspension and expulsions 

 

Who or what is a ‘relevant person’?

Suspension and expulsion process guidelines refers to a relevant person who supports and advocates for students. ​In most cases this will be the student’s parent or carer. However, in some situations, the relevant person may also be another trusted adult nominated by a student’s parent. This ensures students always have someone to provide them with support and advocacy throughout a suspension or expulsion process. 

If the student is over 18 years of age, they can act as their own relevant person unless they nominate another adult to do so.

For information on how a school can determine who will act as a student’s relevant person,see: Identifying a Relevant Person

Can I nominate someone else to play the role of relevant person?

Yes. If you are unable to act as the relevant person for your child, you may nominate another adult in your child’s life to do so. This can be another family member, a family friend, or trusted adult known to your child.

It is important to remember that if you do decide to take on the role of your child’s relevant person you may bring a support person with you to any meetings held with the school. This support person is not allowed to act in this role for fee or reward.

Can I bring a support person to meetings with my child’s school?

Yes, you can bring a support person to any meetings held with the school as long as they are not acting for fee or reward.

What is a suitable person?

In some cases, it may not be possible to identify an adult to take on the role of relevant person to support a particular student.

A suitable person is a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development employee with relevant experience in student welfare matters. A suitable person can take on the role of the relevant person to support and advocate for any student whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so. 

Suspension

My child has been suspended, what does this mean?

Suspension is a disciplinary measure that involves temporary removal of a student from classes or school approved activities for a specified period of time. Your child will be allowed to return to class or the school approved activity after the suspension period has ended. 

If your child has been suspended, you should have received a Suspension Brochure from your child's school, see:

What must a principal consider before a suspension occurs?

Before a student can be suspended, the principal must ensure that

a) The student has had the opportunity to be heard

b) Any information or documentation provided by the student or their relevant person (in most cases, the student’s parent) has been taken into account in making the decision regarding suspension

c) Other forms of action to address the behaviour for which the student is being suspended have been considered.

What can my child be suspended for?

Your child can be suspended if, whilst attending school, or travelling to or from school, or engaged in any school activity away from the school (including travel to or from that activity), they—

a) behave in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person;

b) cause significant damage to or destruction of property;

c) commit or attempt to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property;

d) possess, use or sell or deliberately assist another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons;

e) fail to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member  so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person;

f) consistently engage in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on age; breastfeeding; gender; identity; impairment; industrial activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parental status; physical features; political belief or activity; pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sexual orientation; personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes;

g) consistently behave in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student.

What if I am not sure if my child’s behaviour warrants suspension?

It is the school principal’s responsibility to determine whether to suspend a student in any specific circumstances.

If you have any concerns or queries about your child’s suspension, you should contact the school principal to discuss your child, your concerns, and the reasons and grounds for the suspension.

You are also encouraged to provide the principal with additional information or documentation that should be considered when they are making their decision. For example, if you believe your child’s behaviour is due to a learning difficulty, you may wish to discuss what supports and strategies the school can use to support your child.

You may also like to ask your school for a copy of their Student Engagement Policy or you can check their website to access it.  This policy explains the behavioural expectations within your school and is a useful reference point in determining whether these expectations have been breached For more information, see: Student Engagement Policy 

What is an immediate suspension?

Immediate suspensions can occur only if a student behaves in such a way that would provide the basis for a suspension ordinarily, and their behaviour is such that they are putting the health, safety and wellbeing of themselves, staff or other students at significant risk.

If the principal has determined that an immediate suspension is appropriate, school staff must attempt to immediately notify you of this decision, and the need to collect your child as soon as is practicable.

If you cannot be contacted and/or you are unable to make arrangements for the collection of your child, the principal will make arrangements for your child to be adequately supervised until the end of the school day or the conclusion of the school approved activity (for example, a school camp or excursion).

How long can my child be suspended for?

The maximum continuous period of time a student may be suspended at any one time is 5 school days.

In addition, a student cannot be suspended for more than 15 days in a school year without written approval from the regional director.

What information should the school provide me with if they have decided to suspend my child?

When a principal determines that a suspension is appropriate, the school must provide both you and your child with the following documents:

The principal should also provide you with the following information:

  • the reasons for the suspension
  • the school days on which the suspension will occur
  • where the suspension will occur (e.g. on school premises or otherwise)
  • the contact details for additional support services for you and your child, as appropriate
    the arrangements made for the provision of appropriate school work for your child for the period of the suspension.

Notes

(1) If your child is suspended for three days or less, the principal should ensure that he or she is provided with meaningful work to complete whilst they are absent from school.

(2) If your child has been suspended for more than three days, the principal should ensure that a Student Absence Learning Plan and a Return to School Plan are provided.

I work full time and cannot supervise my child while they are suspended.  What are my options?

In this instance you should contact the principal and discuss your situation with them so that this can be taken into account in the decision that is made.

What is an in-school suspension? What does it mean for my child?

An in-school suspension means that a student remains on school grounds under supervision but does not attend class.

This may include but not be limited to:

  • pairing the student up with an experienced teacher or appropriate staff member for the day and accompanying that teacher to classes

  • participating in a work-based in-school suspension (e.g. working outdoors or preparation of educational materials)

  • providing a dedicated room or area where students can complete their in-school suspension under appropriate supervision.

  • It is important to remember that while this is different from a traditional ‘out-of-school’ suspension the same process should be followed for both.

What will my child do when they are suspended? Does the school have to provide him/her with work?

It is expected that for a suspension of less than three days, a student is given meaningful work to complete. If a student is suspended for more than three days, it is expected that a Student Absence Plan and a Return to School plan be developed.

 What happens at the end of the suspension?

Where a suspension is for a period of five school days, it is recommended that a post-suspension student support group meeting be held.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity to discuss the following:

  • the Student Absence Learning Plan and the school work completed during the period of suspension
  • the strategies to be developed within and outside of the school to meet the educational, social and emotional needs of your child
  • the responsibilities of you, your child, the school staff and other professionals in supporting these strategies.

Can I appeal a suspension?

There is no process for appealing a suspension. If you have any concerns about your child’s suspension, you should immediately discuss these concerns with the school principal. 

If you do not believe that your concerns have been adequately addressed by the school principal, you may contact the community liaison officer at your local regional office.

If you still believe that your concerns have not been adequately addressed by the regional office, you can write to your regional director or the Deputy Secretary, Regional Support Group to lodge a formal complaint.

For additional information, phone numbers and further contact details regarding parent complaints see: Parent Complaints

Expulsion

Expulsion is the process of permanently excluding the student from the school in which he or she is expelled. If your child has been expelled, you should have received a brochure, see: Parent Brochure - Procedures following Expulsion (pdf - 233.14kb) or Parent Brochure - Procedures following Expulsion (rtf - 99.72kb)

For what reasons can my child be expelled?

Expulsion is a consequence reserved for serious behavioural issues.

Your child can be expelled, if whilst attending school, or travelling to or from school, or engaged in any school activity away from the school (including travel to or from that activity), they

1. Commit any of the following behaviours:

a) behave in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person

b) cause significant damage to or destruction of property

c) commit or attempt to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property

d) possess, use or sell or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons

e) fail to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member  so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person 

f) consistently engage in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on age; breastfeeding; gender; identity; impairment; industrial activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parental status; physical features; political belief or activity; pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sexual orientation; personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes 

g) consistently behave in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student. 

AND

2. ​Your child’s behaviour is of such a magnitude that expulsion is considered the only available mechanism based on their need to receive an education, compared to the need to maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of other students and staff at the school, and to maintain the effectiveness of the school’s educational programs.

What are the procedures prior to expulsion?

The principal must convene a behaviour review conference prior to making a decision about whether to expel your child. You and your child (or their relevant person) are encouraged to attend the meeting so you:

  • can understand the grounds and reasons why expulsion is being considered

  • have an opportunity to be heard

  • can provide relevant information and documentation that can be considered prior to the principal making a decision about whether to expel your child

  • can assist in determining an appropriate course of action in the event that expulsion is decided 

  • can help identify the future educational, training and/or employment options that are most suited to your child.

  • When attending the meeting, you are allowed to bring an independent support person to assist with your role in advocating for your child as long as they are not acting for fee or reward.

If you are unwilling or unable to attend the behaviour review conference, you or your child (in some circumstances) can nominate another person to attend on your behalf, see: Identifying a Relevant Person

If any person attending the behaviour review conference requires the assistance of an interpreter (including Auslan), the principal will ensure that such assistance is provided at the meeting.

If you and/or your child and/or the nominee do not attend the meeting, it is important to note that:

  • The behaviour review conference can proceed in your absence. In such circumstances, you should be provided with documentation about the key points discussed at the meeting.

  • The principal can still make a decision to expel your child even though you and your child did not participate in the behaviour review conference.

I have been asked to attend a behaviour review conference for my child. Does this mean that my child has been expelled?

No. The purpose of a behaviour review conference is to ensure you:

  • can understand the grounds and reasons why expulsion is being considered

  • have an opportunity to be heard

  • can provide relevant information and documentation that can be considered prior to the principal making a decision about whether to expel your child

  • can assist in determining an appropriate course of action in the event that expulsion is decided

  • can help identify the future educational, training and/or employment options that are most suited to your child.

What if I cannot attend the behaviour review conference?

It is strongly recommended that you attend the behaviour review conference. If you are unable to attend  at the date, time and place that has been arranged, you should immediately contact the school principal to make alternative arrangements.

If suitable alternative arrangements cannot be made, you can nominate someone to take on the role of the relevant person for the expulsion process. You will need to sign a nomination form for this to take effect, see the above question on the relevant person for more details.

If the behaviour review conference proceeds without you (or the relevant person) or your child, the school principal is required to ensure the key points discussed at the meeting are recorded in writing and provided to you (or your relevant person) and your child.

Can I bring a support person to my meetings with the school? Should I bring my child?

Yes, you are permitted to bring a support person to any meetings regarding your child’s expulsion as long as they are not acting for fee or reward.

Generally, it is recommended that a student attend meetings related to their expulsion as this gives them the opportunity for their concerns to be heard. Depending on the circumstances however, this may not be appropriate or practical.

When will I be notified of a final outcome? What documentation must the school provide to me?

The principal must notify you and your child of their decision within 48 hours of the conclusion of the behaviour review conference. If the principal decides to expel your child, you should be provided with the following documentation:

  • Notice of Expulsion
  • A copy of the Expulsion Appeal form
  • A brochure providing information on expulsions.

What happens after an expulsion? Where will my child go to school?

If your child is of compulsory school age, the principal and the regional office must ensure that your child is enrolled at another registered school; enrolled at a registered training organisation; or engaged in employment as soon as practicable. This plan of action should be discussed and agreed to at the behaviour review conference.

If your child is not of compulsory school age, the principal and the regional office can provide you and your child with information about other schools, registered training organisations and employment agencies that provide suitable opportunities for your child.

If there is going to be a delay in transitioning your child into a new education or training setting, the school must provide them with meaningful work to complete until the transition has been implemented.

Expulsion appeal

Can I appeal my child’s expulsion? Can my child appeal their expulsion?

Yes, your child can appeal the expulsion on the following grounds:

  • the school did not follow the expulsion process

  • grounds for expulsion are considered unfair

  • there were demonstrably limited  prior interventions and strategies used prior to the decision to expel where the student has a history of behavioural issues

  • other extenuating circumstances.

  • You should be provided with an appeal form when you receive formal notification of your child’s expulsion. This form needs to be completed and sent to your child’s school within 10 days. It is recommended that you follow up with your child’s school to ensure that it is received.

If your child is a minor, or otherwise unable to appeal the expulsion themselves, you may do so on their behalf so long as you take into consideration their views and best interests.

To access an expulsion appeal form, see:

What happens during an expulsion appeal?

Once the expulsion appeal is received by the school, it will be forwarded to the Department’s regional office for further action.

The regional director will consider the appeal and determine whether to uphold or overturn the decision to expel your child.

In considering the appeal, the regional director may appoint an expulsion review panel (ERP) to review your child’s particular case.

How does an expulsion review panel (ERP) work?

If an ERP has been appointed, its role is to:

  • provide an opportunity for you and your child to be heard

  • prepare a report for the regional director to assist him or her determining whether to uphold or overturn the decision to expel your child.

  • You will be asked to present your information and documentation to the panel. They may ask you questions about your appeal form and the information you included and for more information about the grounds on which your appeal was based.
For more information on this process you can visit, see: Student Engagement Policy Guidelines: Procedures for Expulsion (pdf - 82.59kb)
 

If the regional director decides not to appoint an expulsion review panel what will happen?

The regional director will consider your appeal documentation, including the form and any other information you and the principal may have provided.

Based on this information, the regional director will make a decision on whether or not to uphold the expulsion.

If I appeal my child’s expulsion, what will he/she do while we wait for a final decision?

Your child’s school should continue to implement the course of action determined in the behaviour review conference.

If your child is of compulsory school age, this will include the provision of ongoing appropriate work until your child engages in other educational, training or employment opportunities, or until the expulsion appeal has been determined (whichever occurs sooner).

If your child is not of compulsory school age, the principal will provide you and your child with information about other schools, registered training organisations and employment agencies that provide suitable opportunities for your child.

 

If you have concerns about the course of action being implemented or the work being provided to your child you should discuss this further with your child’s school principal or the regional office.

What will happen when a decision is made?

The regional director will notify you verbally of the outcome of an expulsion appeal within 24 hours of the decision being made.

If the regional director decides to uphold the principal’s decision to expel your child the principal must take the following action:

In the case of a student of compulsory school age:

  • Continue to implement the action plan to transition the student to another school, registered training organisation, or employment
  • Continue to provide the student with appropriate work until the transition to another school, registered training organisation, or employment has been finalised.
​In the case of a student who is beyond compulsory school age:
  • Ensure that the student and the relevant person have been provided with information about other schools, registered training organisations or employment that may provide suitable opportunities for the student.

If the regional director decides to overturn the principal’s decision to expel your child the principal must take the following action:

If the expulsion has been overturned, the principal must take the following action as soon as possible:

  1. Your child must be re-enrolled in the school
  2. The principal must develop a Return to School Plan for the student in collaboration with the student, the relevant person, and their teachers.
  3. The record of the expulsion must be removed from the student’s permanent record and CASES21

Where can I find further information? 

The procedures for suspension and expulsion are detailed in the Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidelines, see: Suspension Process or Expulsion Process

You may also wish to refer to the following resources:

If you require additional information and support, you should contact the community liaison officer at your closest Department of Education and Early Childhood Development regional office. For contact details, see Regions 

Additional support is available from:

​​Parentline

Phone: 13 22 89 (8am to midnight, 7 days a week) 

Parents Victoria 

Phone: (03) 9380 2158 or 1800 032 023 (rural callers only) Website: www.parentsvictoria.asn.au   

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services 

Phone: 1300 767 299 Website: www.health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/services/child/ 

Children’s Protection Society 

Phone: (03) 9450 0900 Website: www.cps.org.au/ 

Australian Childhood Foundation 

Phone: (03) 9874 3922 Website: www.childhood.org.au/website/default.asp 

Association of School Councils in Victoria   

Phone: (03) 9808 2499 Website: www.asciv.org.au/ASCIV/Welcome.html 

Victorian Council of School Organisations   

Phone: (03) 9429 5900 Website: www.viccso.org.au/

Victorian Multicultural Commission  

Phone: (03)  9208 3184 Website: www.multicultural.vic.gov.au/

Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc.  

Phone:  (03) 9416 3833 Website: http://www.vaeai.org.au/