Direction and guidance on reinforcing positive, inclusive, respectful and safe practices for supporting positive student behaviour in NSW public schools. Principals acting in accordance with this policy and the Student Behaviour Procedures are acting with the authority of, and are supported by, the NSW Department of Education.
Changes since previous version
2022 Oct 10 – updated the policy statement, changing its name from ‘Student Discipline in Government Schools’ to ‘Student Behaviour’. The updated policy emphasises practices to promote positive behaviour in schools. It focuses on supporting students across the care-continuum through a strategic, integrated, whole-school approach. It aims to strengthen the system of support for students and staff to create respectful learning and working environments that promote engagement and wellbeing. Supporting documents have been updated and strengthened to help schools implement the updated policy.
The changes will affect the way principals and school staff manage student behaviour, including important changes in the procedures
- new grounds for suspension
- removal of ‘short’ and ‘long’ suspension categories
- introducing maximum consecutive and annual days of suspension, which are different for students in Years K to 2 and 3 to 12
- increased role for Directors, Educational Leadership, including in approving fourth or more suspensions and co-approving expulsions
- introducing a 50 school day time limit for formal cautions
- replacing local school discipline policy with the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan.
The following implementation documents were updated:
- Guidelines for the use of Time-out Strategies Including Dedicated Time-out Rooms – updated and name changed to Detention and Time-Out Guidelines
- Student Discipline in Government Schools – Support materials updated and name changed to School Behaviour Support and Management Plan guide
- Suspension and Expulsion of School Students Procedures updated and name changed to Student Behaviour Procedures Kindergarten to Year 12
The ‘Guidelines for behaviour management decisions made under previous policy and procedures’ was added as an implementation document.
The following implementation documents were removed:
- Checklist – long suspension
- Checklist – short suspension
- Suspension and Expulsion of School Students Procedures – Information for Parents.
2019 Aug 22 - Updated contact details made to policy statement and implementation documents.
2018 Sept - Hyperlink for Bullying of Students – Prevention and Response Policy updated.
Good Discipline and Effective Learning: Ministerial Statement, 1995
- Policy statement
- The NSW Department of Education is committed to creating engaging and effective classrooms, and inclusive and safe school communities for all NSW public school students. Students and staff have the right and responsibility to engage in positive and respectful relationships based on valuing the interests, abilities and diversity of others. All students and staff have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity in an environment free from intimidation, harassment, victimisation, discrimination and continued disruption.
- All students and staff have a right not to be subjected to racism or discrimination, including that based on sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- In NSW, all children and young people have a right to an education, where students can access and fully participate in learning. To enable staff to create inclusive, engaging and respectful schools, some circumstances exist where behavioural interventions are necessary.
- Supporting and enabling positive student behaviour is essential for quality learning, as well as the wellbeing and safety of all students and staff. Inclusive practice must be embedded in all aspects of school life and be supported by school culture and everyday practice.
- Procedural fairness will be afforded to all students and staff in implementing this policy.
- The aim of the policy is that all NSW public school students:
- are supported to participate positively and engage in their learning and in the wider community
- are supported to demonstrate positive and respectful behaviour that will contribute to an inclusive and safe school learning environment, consistent with their responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy
- have the opportunity to self-advocate as active participants in their own learning and wellbeing
- are encouraged to feel connected and use their social and emotional skills to be respectful, resilient and safe learners in line with the Behaviour Code for Students.
- Schools are required to develop a School Behaviour Support and Management Plan in line with this policy and the Student Behaviour Procedures. This must also establish and maintain high expectations for student behaviour, in line with the Behaviour Code for Students.
- In line with effective practice, all staff will:
- receive system support delivered by the NSW Department of Education
- support and promote positive and respectful student behaviour through an evidence-informed positive behaviour support approach across the care continuum
- safely include students so they can engage positively in learning and have respectful relationships with other students and staff
- engage in respectful relationships with students and parents and carers to model inclusivity for students and reflect appropriate behaviour, mindful of diversity and individual student and family needs
- provide quality learning environments that are inclusive, safe and secure, and minimise disruption, bullying, harassment, discrimination, violence, intimidation and victimisation
- actively seek and engage in professional learning that will support positive student behaviour and the implementation of the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan.
- In line with effective practice, as outlined in the Wellbeing Framework for Schools, interventions used by schools to prevent, reduce, or address behaviours of concern will:
- be fair, equitable, and inclusive
- consider the diverse learning and wellbeing needs of students, including reasonable adjustments for students with disability
- be proportionate to individual student needs and leverage their strengths in the context of providing a safe and respectful physical and emotional school environment.
- Audience and applicability
- All NSW public schools (excluding preschools).
- Schools and their communities work together to provide a continuum of behaviour support that responds to a range of student needs, including:
- universal, preventative, proactive and protective behaviour strategies that help support positive behaviour among all students
- targeted and early interventions to identify and support students who are at risk
- immediate response strategies for individual students demonstrating complex and challenging behaviour.
- This policy complies with the Education Act 1990 (NSW), Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005.
- This policy reflects the legal and policy responsibilities of schools outlined in a range of departmental policies and procedures and should be read in conjunction with relevant policies and procedures.
- Schools and their communities work together to provide a continuum of behaviour support that responds to a range of student needs, including:
- Responsibilities and delegations
- All staff will work collaboratively with students, parents and carers, service providers and the community to promote and manage positive, inclusive and safe student behaviour.
- lead and oversee school staff compliance with this policy
- access advice from Directors, Educational Leadership and Delivery Support teams as needed to support policy implementation
- promote, model and embed positive, inclusive, respectful and culturally responsive practices in school
- develop a School Behaviour Support and Management Plan in consultation with the school community for implementation and monitoring by the end of Term 2 2023
- provide a copy of the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan to their Directors, Educational Leadership and upload the plan onto the school’s public website
- review the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan annually, and with school community input at the start of each new School Planning Cycle (or earlier as needed) in line with implementation of the school Strategic Improvement Plan
- prioritise the continuity of teaching and learning
- participate in professional learning for school leaders annually developed and delivered by the NSW Department of Education
- identify and support the professional learning needs for school staff developed and delivered by the NSW Department of Education
- oversee the development and capacity of teachers to plan and implement a curriculum and pedagogy that supports positive behaviour of students at each level of the care continuum and ensures continuity of teaching and learning
- where a student’s behaviour presents a risk to themselves, other students or staff, or student learning, ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to assess the risk and develop strategies to minimise it, consistent with departmental policies and procedures
- proactively manage student behaviour by accessing school and system supports as early as possible
- ensure that all behaviour management actions, including suspension or expulsion from school, are consistent with the Student Behaviour Procedures
- monitor school-level data to evaluate progress in behaviour management, including suspensions and expulsions
- ensure that implementation of this policy at their school is consistent with obligations to ensure a safe and healthy working and learning environment under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy3.2.16. ensure students, parents and carers can access appropriate complaint processes and that
- complaints relating to student behaviour are handled promptly, in line with the Complaints Handling policy
- implement and embed systems at their school that retain and report on records of formal action taken in relation to the implementation of this policy and its supporting procedures and implementation documents.
- Teachers and school staff:
- support school leaders in implementing this policy
- will be supported to implement this policy
- support the development and implementation of the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan to enhance student learning and wellbeing
- model and promote behaviour that values diversity, demonstrates respect for and inclusion of all students, and promotes a positive school climate
- participate in professional learning to progress skill development, knowledge and confidence and provide purposeful and personalised responses to behaviours of concern
- will ensure that they comply with their obligations under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy
- use effective practices and evidence-informed strategies consistent with the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan to
- explicitly teach all students about inclusive, respectful and safe behaviours in line with developmentally appropriate curriculum, and the core values of the school setting
- provide early, visible, consistent and planned responses to behaviours of concern to foster trust and confidence between the school, student and parent or carer and ensure continuity of teaching and learning
- support the participation and inclusion of all students, and be responsive to individual students’ needs
- make reasonable adjustments to support the inclusion of students with disability.
- School learning and support teams:
- support principals and school staff to develop, implement, monitor and review the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan
- provide support for all students requiring additional and targeted learning, wellbeing and behavioural supports across the care continuum, considering any specific needs of individual students
- develop, implement, monitor and review individual student support planning
- evaluate, analyse and monitor student learning, wellbeing and behavioural data, and communicate relevant student information to teachers for better classroom support
- organise and/or provide professional learning on behaviour support and management topics.
- Delivery Support teams (non-school-based system support):
- develop, source and provide professional learning opportunities for schools regarding inclusive and safe environments, developing positive classrooms and effective practices to respond to behaviour
- provide advice and services to support the promotion of positive behaviours, learning and wellbeing for students in all departmental settings
- provide advice and services to support targeted and individual behavioural interventions for students who require support to be safely included in departmental education settings and/or targeted learning and wellbeing support
- model and coach evidence-based behavioural interventions and strategies within departmental settings and provide practical support to teachers and school support staff
- work collaboratively with school learning and support teams, principals, school counselling staff, teachers, external support agencies, and parents and carers.
- School counselling staff:
- work collaboratively with students, school leaders, teachers, learning and support teams, Delivery Support teams, parents and carers, other agencies and services providers to develop appropriate school-based student support
- provide advice about strategies and programs that will support positive behaviour outcomes
- provide specialist advice and services to support targeted and individual interventions for students who require support to be safely included in departmental education settings
- undertake culturally responsive cognitive, emotional and behavioural assessments to enable development of appropriate school-based support for students
- provide students with short-term therapeutic interventions when appropriate
- refer students and/or their families to other agencies or services that will support student learning and wellbeing, and positive behaviour outcomes
- will ensure that they comply with their obligations under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy.
- Directors, Educational Leadership:
- in consultation with principals, lead, monitor and support this policy’s implementation in their network schools and ensure that schools comply with their obligations under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy
- ensure their network schools consistently, fairly and equitably implement this policy through each school’s individual School Behaviour Support and Management Plan
- support school leaders to plan, implement and evaluate behaviour support approaches that engage the whole school community to maintain high standards of behaviour and create a positive, safe, inclusive and respectful school environment
- facilitate appropriate and relevant training and resources, in collaboration with other department teams, to help school staff and leaders comply with and implement this policy
- conduct regular reviews of school-level data and oversee analysis of school behavioural management data to monitor individual schools’ progress in behaviour management, including suspensions and expulsions
- undertake individual behaviour management case reviews as necessary, in consultation with the principal and other support staff.
- Executive Directors, School Performance:
- oversee and support Directors, Educational Leadership to lead, monitor and support policy implementation and progress in behaviour management in their network schools, including ensuring that schools comply with their obligations under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy.
- Director, Delivery Support:
- ensure Delivery Support staff understand their role in supporting schools to plan, implement and evaluate behaviour approaches that engage the whole school community
- ensure all Delivery Support staff understand their role in supporting schools to implement this policy.
- Director, Behaviour and Student Participation and Executive Director, Inclusion and Wellbeing:
- support leaders to plan, implement and evaluate behaviour approaches that engage the whole school community
- develop, source and quality assure programs and other resources so that they are available for schools to access
- ensure that information about this policy’s requirements is accessible across the department and to members of the public
- secure funding and resourcing for system-level supports to ensure schools and school leaders have the necessary support to implement this policy
- oversee implementation and monitoring of the system to ensure appropriate implementation supports are available to schools.
- Parents and carers are expected to:
- work in partnership with the school, service providers and the wider school community to support their child’s behavioural development and successful engagement in learning as consistent with the School Community Charter
- understand the Behaviour Code for Students and the importance of maintaining high standards of behaviour to create a positive, safe, inclusive and respectful school environment
- support the school to implement the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan
- proactively engage with the school to resolve concerns around behaviour when incidents occur, including discussing issues as soon as possible, in accordance with the School Behaviour Support and Management Plan.
- Monitoring and review
- The Director, Behaviour and Student Participation monitors the implementation of this policy, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy and updates it as needed.
Director, Behaviour and Student Participation
(02) 7814 3416
- Behaviour Code for Students (PDF 83 KB)
- Detention and Time-Out Guidelines (PDF 116 KB)
- School Behaviour Support and Management Plan guide (PDF 120 KB)
- Student Behaviour Procedures Kindergarten to Year 12 (PDF 514 KB)
- Guidelines for behaviour management decisions made under previous policy and procedures (PDF 131 KB)
- Student Behaviour Policy Easy Read version (PDF 5.5 MB)
- Student Behaviour Procedures Easy Read version (PDF 5.3 MB)
- Inclusive, Engaging and Respectful Schools - Student Behaviour Resources page STAFF ONLY
- Student Behaviour Strategy
- Inclusive, Engaging and Respectful Schools Hub (public link)
- Behaviour Support Toolkit
- Parent resources
- Aboriginal Education policy
- Anti-Racism policy
- Bullying of Students – Prevention and Response policy
- Child Protection: Responding to and reporting students at risk of harm policy
- Complaints Handling policy
- Drugs in Schools policy
- Enrolment of Students in NSW Government Schools policy
- Incident Notification and Response policy