School Exclusions Study:
Exclusionary policies and practices in Australian schools and the impact they have on vulnerable children
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.
Australian 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.
When compared to the long-established body of research which documents the use and outcomes of exclusionary practices in the UK and US, it is clear that our understanding of suspensions and exclusions in the Australian school context is significantly lacking. We urgently require research into the use of exclusionary practices. Such research would have important implications for the health, wellbeing and attainment of Australian children, particularly those who are most likely to be disproportionately punished. Furthermore, this would prove a vital step in generating new knowledge and insights about the extent and impact of school exclusionary practices in Australian schools. This research will provide the evidence base for policy and school-based interventions that enhance the health and welfare of vulnerable children in our schools.