City schools under siege

DAMNING figures released yesterday show the true extent of bullying and violence in Ipswich schools.

Ipswich schools figure prominently in the Education Queensland report on school expulsions and suspensions.

Four schools - Ipswich State High, Bundamba State High, Lowood State High and Redbank Plains State High - figured in the state's 25 worst schools for suspensions last year.

In total, 4581 suspensions were handed out to Ipswich students.

Bundamba State High ranked the highest of all Ipswich schools and was eighth overall in Queensland with 448 suspensions from its 776-strong student body.

Discipline problems were also common at Lowood State High, with the school handing out 390 suspensions among its 729 students.

Queensland Teachers' Union Moreton organiser Barry Welch said bullying and class disruption was making life hard for teachers and students who were keen to learn.

“Society isn't getting any better... there are kids coming in that are disruptive and their numbers might be increasing,” Mr Welch said.

“Teachers' jobs are extremely hard and behaviour is a challenging element they have to deal with.

“Schools are very concerned with creating an environment where students can learn and teachers can teach uninterrupted.”

Queensland Education and Training Minister, Geoff Wilson, said the government would undertake a statewide review of student disciplinary processes.

“We know that a substantial number of school disciplinary absences are the result of unacceptable behaviour such as physical violence, verbal abuse and persistent disruptive behaviour,” Mr Wilson said.

“I am very concerned about the level of violence in our schools, reflected in the increase in suspensions of students occurring in all 10 education regions.

“The Bligh government strongly supports principals taking a tough stance on bad behaviour and it's clear from these numbers that schools are cracking down.

“But it's worrying that these types of incidents appear to be increasing and we clearly need to do more.”

Earlier this year, The Queensland Times reported claims that school principals were being pressured not to permanently exclude troublesome students from schools.

In recent months there has been a string of incidents at Ipswich schools, including a schoolyard king-hit that left a student in hospital and pupils posting school brawls on YouTube.

Mr Welch said school principals should be given the power to expel students without having to liaise with Education Queensland.

“They can run a big organisation like a school, so they should be able to choose if they can exclude a student,” he said.

University of Queensland Parenting and Family Support Centre director Professor Matt Sanders said discipline issues would continue to be a problem at schools if parent training was not addressed.

The clinical psychologist said evidence-based parenting programs would help to prevent students becoming disruptive.

“Any attempt by the government to crack down with punitive measures to reduce bullying and disruptive behaviour will only ever be a part of the solution,” Professor Sanders said.

“What we're dealing with is that children need to be socialised into a level of behaviour early in their life.

“The transition into school is important - when kids are enrolled in school, parents should enrol in parenting programs.

“The stigma needs to be taken away from doing parenting classes, every parent should do one.”

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