Suspension means a student is removed from school for a period of time. After a suspension, your child will return to class. Making sure students are safe and well is a priority for the Victorian government.
Every child and young person deserves a high quality education. They have the legal right to attend a Victorian government school.
Reasons for suspension
Suspensions are a serious disciplinary measure and are only used when all other measures have not worked. Suspension may be considered if a student:
- behaves in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
- causes significant damage to or destruction of property
- commits or attempts to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property
- possesses, uses or sells or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons
- fails 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
- consistently engages in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on:
- gender; identity
- industrial activity
- lawful sexual activity
- marital status
- parent or carer status
- physical features
- political belief or activity
- 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
7. consistently behaves in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student
A student can be suspended if they do any of these things while:
- attending school
- travelling to or from school, or
- at a school activity away from the school, including travelling to or from the activity.
What the principal must do
Only a principal can suspend a student. Before the principal can consider suspension they must find ways to support the student’s:
- education and learning needs
- social needs, like relationships and interacting with people
- emotional needs.
Suspension can be considered if this support does not improve the student’s behaviour. The principal must consider:
- the student has had the opportunity to be heard
- any information or documents provided by the student or their support person
- all other forms of action to address the student’s behaviour have been considered.
What happens if your child is suspended
If a principal decides suspension is appropriate, the school must give you and your child:
- a notice of suspension
- a copy of the information for parents and carers about school suspensions brochure
The principal should also provide you with the following information:
- The reasons for the suspension
- The school days on which the suspension
- Where the suspension will occur (i.e. on school grounds or at home)
- 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.
If your child is suspended for three days or less, the principal should give your child meaningful school work to do while they are suspended from school.
If your child is suspended for more than three days, the principal should give you a student absence learning plan and a return to school plan.
Students cannot be suspended for more than five school days at a time. They cannot be suspended for more than 15 days in a school year without approval from the Department.
If you have concerns
You may ask your school for a copy of their student engagement policy. It may be on their website. This policy includes behaviour expectations for the school. You can use it to determine if your child has breached the expectations.
You can request a meeting with the principal at any point during a suspension process, even if the suspension has already been implemented.
You cannot appeal a suspension. If you have concerns, you should immediately talk to the school principal.
If you feel your concerns were not addressed by the principal, you can contact a community liaison officer. Contact your nearest regional office.
If you feel the community liaison officer did not resolve the issue, you can write to the Department’s regional director for your area. Get contact information in the parent complains section of our website.
After the suspension
Once the suspension has ended, your child will be given support to return to school.
If your child has been suspended for three or more school days, we recommend holding a student support group. The meeting includes the school, you and your child.
You can also request a meeting if you feel your child needs additional support when returning to school. The support can be to address any behaviour that may have caused the suspension.
- In the meeting you will talk about:
- the student absence learning plan and the school work completed during the suspension
- the strategies needed to help your child’s educational, social and emotional needs. The strategies can be in or out of the school.
- the responsibilities for you, your child, the school staff and other professionals in to support these strategies.
Immediate suspensions happen if behaviour is so serious it puts the health and safety of the student, other students or school staff at risk.
If the principal determines an immediate suspension is appropriate, school staff should attempt to notify you immediately. You will also need to collect your child as soon as is practical.
If they cannot contact you or your child can’t be collected, the principal will arrange for your child to be supervised until the end of the school day or activity.
Even though the time frames for immediate suspension are different, the process is the same as regular suspension. The principal must make sure your child has been heard and their circumstances are considered.
An in-school suspension means a student stays on school grounds but does not attend class. They will be supervised. This may include:
- pairing the student up with an experienced teacher or staff member for the day. The student goes with that teacher to classes
- participating in a work-based in-school suspension. For example, working outdoors or preparing learning materials
- a dedicated area where students can complete their in-school suspension under supervision.
It may also take on a different form depending on the school and circumstances.
The process for in-school suspensions is the same and you should receive the same notification and documentation.
Get advice and support from the department
You can ask to speak to a community liaison officer about support for yourself or your child. Contact your nearest regional office. You can read the suspension information given to schools.
You can download the information on this page as a PDF or Word document:
Information for parents and carers about school suspensions (pdf - 372.69kb)
Information for parents and carers about school suspensions (docx - 75.84kb)
Get advice and support from other organisations
Phone: 13 22 89 - 8am to midnight 7 days a week
Parentline provides a statewide telephone counselling service to parents and carers of children aged from birth to eighteen years.
Phone: (03) 9380 2158 or 1800 032 023 (rural callers only)
Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc.
Phone: (03) 9416 3833
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Phone: 1300 767 299
Children’s Protection Society
Phone: (03) 9450 0900
Australian Childhood Foundation
Phone: (03) 9874 3922
Association of School Councils in Victoria
Phone: (03) 9808 2499
Victorian Council of School Organisations
Phone: (03) 9429 5900
Victorian Multicultural Commission
Phone: (03) 9208 3184