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What can the school do to me if I behave inappropriately or don’t follow the rules?

All schools have a school-wide behaviour plan which covers all student conduct and sets out how students at the school are expected to behave. Usually you will have to sign a document when you enrol at the school which sets out rights and obligations of students, parents and school staff. The school behaviour plan should include things positive things, not just a list of things students must do. This plan is put together by the school community including parents and students.  Different schools will have different plans.

Principals have a range of discipline actions they can take if you do not comply with the rules.  They can:

  • give you detention (including outside of school hours eg on a Saturday)
  • make you perform community service (do a job for no pay)
  • put you on a discipline improvement plan
  • suspend you (see our sheet on Suspensions)
  • exclude you (see our sheet on Exclusions)

What is Discipline Improvement Plan?

If the principal thinks that your behaviour is inappropriate, for example if you do not follow the behaviour plan, you can be put on a discipline improvement plan.  This plan will set out the expectations for behaviour, what will happen to you if you do not change your behaviour, the things that you need to do to change your behaviour and what support the school will provide. The plan will be put together by the school but you and your parents/carers will be involved.   The plan is designed to help you to understand what the school expects of you and how you can do that.

The plan might say that you have to attend school regularly or it may say that you have to attend a program designed to help you deal with the behaviour which is getting you into trouble. For example, you might have to do a social skills program or a drug and alcohol education program.

How will I know when I am placed on a discipline improvement plan?

A discipline improvement plan can be used at any time, for example as a way to prevent inappropriate behaviour getting worse or as a last resort option instead of suspension or exclusion.

The plan should be in writing so that everyone, including you, knows what they are agreeing to do. You will need to talk to the principal about putting the plan together.  Your parent or carer should also be involved in those talks so that they can help make sure the plan is fair and that you can do the things in the plan.  If you are not living at home (an independent student) the principal should try and discuss with you the reasons that you are being asked to attend a specific program. You can have an adult with you when this discussion takes place.  You should be given a copy of the written plan.

The plan should include:

  • the reasons why the principal says your behaviour is unacceptable
  • how long the plan will last
  • details about any program which is being put in place for you
  • how long any program will last
  • what could happen to you if you do not follow the plan.

What if I disagree with the decision of the principal to place me on a discipline improvement plan; community service or detention?

The plan is meant to be something you agree with.  If you do not want to participate in a program set out in the plan or if you do not want a plan at all then you should understand that the principal has the power to suspend or exclude you from school.  If you do not do community service or detention then you can also be suspended or excluded.

See our “Suspension from State Schools” and ”Exclusion from State Schools” fact sheets for more information.

Who can help?

You and/or your parents could try to talk to a youth worker, lawyer or youth support co-ordinator about what is happening at school.  One of the things that they might suggest is arranging a time with the school to talk about the issues and see if there are ways to sort out the problems without having a discipline improvement plan or you being suspended or excluded.

Other agencies?                           

Youth Advocacy Centre (YAC) www.yac.net.au  3356 1002

South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre www.communitylegal.org.au 3372 7677

Logan Youth & Family Legal Service www.yfs.org.au 3826 1500

Legal Aid Queensland www.legalaid.qld.gov.au 1300 651 188

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Service www.atsils.org.au 3025 3888 or 1800 012 255 (24hrs 7 days a week)

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal www.qcat.qld.gov.au  1300 753 228

Queensland Ombudsman www.ombudsman.qld.gov.au  1800 068 908

Community Legal Centres (CLCs) see www.naclc.org.au for your nearest CLC

Youth Support Co-ordinator, School Chaplain or Guidance Officer at your school. See school office.

This information was last reviewed and updated in June 2015.  The Youth Advocacy Centre does not accept responsibility for any action or outcome as a result of anyone relying on the information provided.