Wild kids cause classroom chaos

IPSWICH teachers are being forced to keep unruly and violent students in school to ensure the official number of suspensions and exclusions falls.

Queensland Teachers' Union Moreton organiser Barry Welch claims the pressure to keep troubled youngsters in school is causing chaos in classrooms and endangering the safety of staff.

Figures obtained by The Queensland Times show the number of suspensions and exclusions fell from 2006-07 to 2007-08.

An Education Queensland spokeswoman said there were 5559 suspensions and 79 exclusions from term three in 2006 to term two in 2007 in the Ipswich and West Moreton area.

This was reduced during the same reporting period the following year with 5286 suspensions and 51 exclusions in the region.

A teacher from an Ipswich region school, who spoke to the QT on the condition of anonymity, said teachers were dealing with physically and verbally abusive children but the school was encouraged not to suspend them.

She said students, some as young as five, had thrown chairs, bitten and kicked students and staff and walked out of class, and there were sometimes up to four unruly children per classroom.

“Teachers are spending most of their time doing behaviour modification rather than teaching,” she said.

“There are children who are leaving rooms without permission on a regular basis... and that requires admin and other personnel lots of time to find where they are.

“They're probably given time to cool down in the office and then return to the classroom, at which point they're possibly going to walk out of the classroom again.”

“The department is asking us to keep those kids in the school and asking us to have them back again and again and again,” she said.

Mr Welch said schools had to justify exclusions to Education Queensland.

But he said principals should be trusted to decide whether students' behaviour was acceptable.

“Given that principals are trusted to run the school, they should be supported by the department on suspensions and exclusions, not pressured to reduce them,” Mr Welch said.

“We do know that schools have to regularly report and principals are asked to justify why their suspensions are increasing, if that's the case.

“When a student is violent to a teacher, that should be an offence warranting exclusion.

“The schools have behaviour management policies that are endorsed by the community and if a student refuses to comply with that then the principals should be able to manage exclusion or suspension.”

Mr Welch said students should not be kept at school if they acted in an unacceptable or unsafe manner.

He said high suspension and expulsion rates were not necessarily bad as it meant principals had a zero-tolerance policy for bad behaviour.

“If you want to do that you have to put in those other resources like positive learning centres, where there can be an alternative placement for those students until their behaviour improves.”

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