All students have the right to learn in a safe place.
Sometimes children can do things that might upset others, but children can also do things that are more serious. When children hurt themselves or other people in a physical way, like hitting or biting, this is called a behaviour of concern.
When behaviours of concern happen at school, parents and teachers can work together to try to stop them from happening.
Understanding your child’s behaviour
To think about ways that will help your child it is important to know why the behaviour of concern is happening.
As a parent, you may already know what makes your child’s behaviour of concern happen. You might know what works well to meet their needs. Telling the school about these things is important.
It is important to let your school know if your child has a:
- medical condition
- mental health issue, or
This is so the school can give your child the right support.
If you do decide to tell your child’s school, they may talk to you about doing something called a functional behaviour assessment. This is to find out more about why the behaviour of concern happens.
Knowing why the behaviour of concern happens can help to manage or stop it. If services or people that are experts outside the school are needed, the school will ask your permission first.
If your child has a disability they may need a plan that tells the school how to support them.
This is so your child can learn and do things at school, like activities. Schools must do their best to support students with disabilities to participate. This law is in the Disability Standards for Education.
Your child’s school might need to talk to a doctor or other health professional. If they do, they have to ask your permission first.
Your child’s behavior at school
Your child’s school will call you if your child is having behaviours of concern at school. If you are worried about your child’s behaviour at home or school you can call the school.
Ask to speak to:
- your child’s teacher
- year level coordinator, or
- a wellbeing staff member.
If there is an incident involving your child at school the school will:
- let you know as soon as they can about what happened
- let the Department of Education and Training (DET) know what happened, and if it is serious contact emergency services. This is so that support can be given if your child needs it
- let you know if a staff member stopped your child from being able to move all or part of their body (restrained your child) or if your child was left alone in a room or area that they weren’t allowed to leave and why.
The school will talk to you about:
- making or changing your child’s behaviour support plan
- more support that might be needed.
If the behaviour is serious, the school may:
- stop your child from coming to school for a short time (called suspension), or
- not let your child come back to the school (called expulsion).
The rules on discipline
Behaviour support planning
A behaviour support plan can be made for your child that will set out ways the school, you and your child can stop or know what to do if a behavior of concern happens.
As a parent it is important for you to have a say in making your child’s behaviour support plan. If your child does not already have a plan, talk to the school.
Raising concerns about your child’s behaviour
If you are not happy or worried about your child’s behavior, there are a number of people you can talk to:
- your child’s teacher, year level coordinator, Principal or a wellbeing staff member. You can ask them about getting Student Support Services and other professionals that may be able to help with your child’s behaviours
- your doctor (GP). Your doctor can make sure there are no medical reasons for the behaviour and can also make referrals (send your child) to professionals who know about other services like mental health (like psychologists or psychiatrists)
- the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). DHHS may be able to get your child support if they have a disability. Phone the Disability Intake and Response Service on 1800 783 783 or the NDIS on 1800 800 110 for more information
- Headspace. Contact Headspace if you are worried about your child’s mental health. Headspace
School management of behaviours of concern
Sometimes people can do things that can hurt themselves or other people (called behaviours of concern). Teachers have to make sure that all students are safe; this is called duty of care. Teachers have to make sure that they are safe as well.
Stopping student behaviours of concern
The best way to help people who have behaviours of concern is to make sure they don’t happen at all.
We need to know why behaviours of concern happen, and what we can do to change them.
We need to teach students other ways to speak up about what they need.
It is important to look at:
- positive behaviour support
- good planning
- getting in early
- what works well to calm students down.
Because schools have a duty of care to keep all staff and students safe, schools cannot promise that they will never use physical restraint to keep your child or others safe from harm.
Staff may need to use physical restraint in response to behaviours of concern to keep everyone safe.
Physical restraint means stopping a person from being able move all or part of their body.
Sometimes it is safer to empty a room, leaving a student alone in a room that they believe they can’t get out of. This will be reported as seclusion.
Victorian government schools have rules about using restraint. The Department also has 15 principles to stop the use of restraint and seclusion
The rules (15 principles) say that staff in Victorian government schools may only use physical restraint when:
- physical harm or danger to the student or others is about to happen, and
- using physical restraint is needed to protect people when the behaviour of concern is happening, and
- there is no other way of keeping people safe.
Restraint can only be used when:
- there is no other way, and
- it is needed, and
- it stops the harm or danger has gone.
In most cases, the only time that a student should be in a room on their own – secluded – is when a room has been emptied, leaving the student alone. This will only happen because they are harming themselves or others.
If this happens the school will:
- make sure that everyone is okay
- let you know as soon as they can about what happened and why
- talk to you about supports you might need, and look at or make a behaviour support plan
- let the Department know that restraint has happened so that support can be given if it is needed.
Who to talk to about support for your child
If you are worried about what your school is doing to support your child, first talk to your child’s teacher. If you are still not happy you can talk to the school principal.
If you are still not happy after you have talked with the teacher and principal or want to talk to someone else, you can call a Community Liaison Officer:
If you are still not happy you can make a complaint in writing to DET
If you are still not happy after you have made a written complaint, the Department might send your complaint to the Independent Office for School dispute resolution.
You can also:
If you need help or want to talk to someone else you can call an advocate at any time. They can help you to speak up.