EDITORIAL:Changes good for principals
CHANGES to suspension and expulsion guidelines for Victorian schools are unlikely to increase the number of students expelled, according to Wodonga Senior Secondary College principal Vern Hilditch.
But Mr Hilditch said the new rules, to start on March 1, would mean less red tape for schools.
Education Minister Martin Dixon yesterday announced the changes he said would give principals more discretion.
The guidelines will cover students found with weapons at school and those engaging in dangerous behaviour.
Mr Hilditch supported the new guidelines but said they would not have a significant impact.
“I think adding the possession of weapons to the guidelines is part of what is blowing over from America,” he said.
“We need to be prepared for that.”
He said it was more efficient to “nip these things in the bud” before an incident escalated.
Mr Hilditch said it had been five years since a student had been expelled from his school and it was a decision taken as a last resort.
“Most principals have an obligation to make sure they provide meaningful pathways for all students,” he said.
“I don’t think with these guidelines there will be an increase in expulsion because we tend to take second chance approaches.
“The guidelines are important because we are dealing with the life and future of young people and it is not the nature of a principal to kick them out onto the street.”
A group of discipline and wellbeing experts will support principals through any expulsion process.
Parent Di Bainbridge said she was relieved the guidelines made it easier for principals to expel students.
“Once you go through all that red tape you forget why they are in that situation in the first place,” she said.
“It’s the school which knows the child, not the department.”
Ms Bainbridge agreed there would not be an increase in expulsions because of the pathway options.
“I have great faith in the hierarchy and that they will look at any way to keep a child at the school,” she said.
Guidance for schools on how to apply the new rules will be issued at the start of the school year.