Teachers, principals bashed: Our school suspension shame

ALMOST 25,000 students have been suspended from schools in the Cairns region in the past five years - a rate far greater than the Queensland average.

Some of our biggest schools have suspended up to 2000-plus students each, including Bentley Park College, Trinity Bay State High School and Woree State High School.

Smithfield State High School had 1135 suspensions, Gordonvale State High School 1131, Cairns West State School 1077, Cairns State High School 963 and Hambledon State School 866.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said schools were suspending pupils as a last resort as classrooms became a battleground for far bigger social issues.

Some of Cairns’ biggest schools have suspended up to 2000-plus students each over the past five years.
Some of Cairns’ biggest schools have suspended up to 2000-plus students each over the past five years.

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He said teachers were the second most likely professionals to be assaulted in their work, behind police, as students fought authority figures, often backed by their families and the wider community.

"We are seeing teachers and principals being assaulted on a regular basis," Mr Bates said.

"As a community we have to push back against that.

"Let's talk about why students are behaving the way they are. Kids are coming from all sorts of family experiences including domestic violence, neglect, abuse and alcoholism.''

Queensland education experts have questioned the strategy of suspending students, saying Queensland's rate was almost twice that of New South Wales in 2018.

But Mr Bates said the extreme measures were in response to unacceptable behaviour by some students.

He said there needed to be far more professional support officers to help schools deal with the root causes of problem behaviour.

Kevin Bates, President QLD Teachers Union, Queensland budget reaction, Parliamentary Annex, Brisbane. Picture: Liam Kidston
Kevin Bates, President QLD Teachers Union, Queensland budget reaction, Parliamentary Annex, Brisbane. Picture: Liam Kidston

Currently there are only 500 to 600 such positions across more than 1200 schools.

However, the latest Queensland budget provided $100m for an extra 464 professional support staff.

But Mr Bates said schools alone could not be expected to resolve behavioural problems.

"It's also about what is happening at home," he said.

"There are significant community and society issues that are being played out in our classrooms."

Cairns MP Michael Healy was too busy to discuss the issue yesterday, but his office pointed out that last year the number of disciplinary absences fell for the first time in six years.

Across the greater Cairns region, about 25 students a day are being suspended.

Across Queensland, an average of 385 suspensions were issued to state school students each school day between 2015 to 2019.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy. Picture: Stewart McLean
Member for Cairns Michael Healy. Picture: Stewart McLean

Over the five-year period, 359,983 short suspensions, 14,622 long suspensions, 8001 expulsions and 6144 cancelled enrolments were handed out.

But Mr Healy's office said strategies being put in place by principals and teachers were effective.

"The vast majority of Queensland state school students never receive a school disciplinary absence," it said.

 

 

 

SUSPENSIONS

CAIRNS

Bentley Park College 2020

Trinity Bay State High School 1998

Woree State High School 1759

Smithfield State High School 1135

Gordonvale State High School 1131

Cairns West State School 1077

Cairns State High School 963

MAREEBA

Kuranda District State College 674

Mareeba State School 512

CASSOWARY COAST

Tully State High School 719

Innisfail State School 138

Innisfail East State School 124

Tully State School 110

TABLELANDS

Ravenshoe State School 1079

Atherton State High School 670

Malanda State High School 191

COOK

Cooktown State School 740

Bloomfield River State School 108

YARRABAH

Yarrabah State School 1238

HOPE VALE

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy 227

LOCKHART RIVER

Lockhart State School 107

NORTHERN PENINSULA

Northern Peninsula Area State College 1131

MOSSMAN

Mossman State High School 754

Originally published as Report card reveals almost 25,000 Far North school suspensions


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