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Exclusionary policies and practices in Australian Schools and the impact they have on vulnerable children

Associate Professor Anna Sullivan, Professor Bruce Johnson, Professor Roger Slee

School exclusionsAustralian schools, like elsewhere, commonly use exclusionary practices, such as suspensions (in-school or out-of-school) and exclusions (temporary or permanent), to help ‘manage’ student behaviour. Designed to ‘support a change in the behaviour of students’, these disciplinary practices involve removing students who disrupt the ‘good order’ in schools and threaten others’ safety. While isolated examples of practice suggest exclusionary practices are used frequently to deal with problematic student behaviour, at present, very little is known about how they are being applied at the national level.

This study aims to investigate:

  • The extent to which suspensions and exclusions are used by schools across Australia to discipline students and manage diverse student populations;
  • The reasons why students are suspended and excluded;
  • The profile of students who are suspended and excluded; and
  • The impact on the health, welfare and academic achievement of children who are suspended and excluded from Australian schools.

The research will provide the evidence base for policy and school-based interventions that enhance the health and welfare of vulnerable children in our schools who are currently captured in the exclusionary pipeline.

The partner organisations are: