Student attendance, suspension and expulsion

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It’s important to understand your child’s rights – and what role you can play – if your child is having attendance problems, or is facing suspension or expulsion.

On this page:

Attendance matters

Your child has the right to attend school full time, and is required to do so from the year they turn 6 until they are 17, unless an available exemption has been granted.

Sometimes children have to be away from school, perhaps to attend medical or therapy appointments, or because of a hospital stay. Resources and programs are available in hospital to help you child keep learning, and to stay connected with their class and school. Talk to the hospital and your child’s teacher or the integration coordinator.

Sometimes your child’s school might ring and ask you to pick your child up early. Many children occasionally need to come home early, for example if they are unwell. However, this should not happen often, and never because of behavioural issues, or because there are no educational support staff (aides) available at that time.

Sometimes, families might feel pressure from school to only bring their child to school part-time, for example when there is aide support available. This is not allowed. Unless there are special medical reasons, Victorian government policy requires all children to be in school full time.

Indeed, Victorian law requires parents and carers to ensure that their children of compulsory school age enrol at and attend school full-time.

Part-time attendance may, in some circumstances, be a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for your child, depending on the nature of their disability or other temporary or ongoing health issues. Such part-time attendance should be temporary, and the school and family should have a plan to gradually increase to full-time attendance if possible.


When it’s hard to get a child or young person to school

Sometimes families might find it hard to get a reluctant child or young person to go to school, perhaps because they are having issues with other children or in class. In this case, it is important to talk to your child about the problem, and also to your child’s teacher. You can ask for an additional Student Support Group meeting to discuss the problem.

Sometimes families might find it hard to get their children to school because of things happening at home, such as health issues, mental health problems, grief and loss, parental separation, family violence or homelessness.

Regular school attendance is important to help children feel connected with their classmates and school community, and to stay engaged with their learning. Schools are required to offer support to students who are at risk of disengaging from school, and to their families if needed.

If you are having difficulty getting your child to school for any reason, the school can be a source of support for you and your child. Talk to your child’s teacher, or ask for an extra Student Support Group meeting to discuss ways to support your child, and how you can work with the school to resolve any problems your child is having.

If your family needs support, talk to the teacher, welfare coordinator, school nurse, integration coordinator, assistant principal or principal.


Suspension and expulsion

The department’s policies in relation to discipline emphasises that students should be supported to re-engage with their learning, and – as much as possible – not be removed from the classroom or learning environment.

Importantly, students must not be suspended or expelled from school except in the most extreme cases, and only if the school has tried every other way of dealing with the behaviour.

If your child has a disability, the school is not allowed to suspend or expel them unless the school has made all ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support the student to manage their behaviours, where this is related to their disability. This rule is not limited to students who receive PSD funding, but applies to all students with a disability.


Your right to be informed, and to support your child

Because of the seriousness of suspension or expulsion, the school must ensure a ‘relevant person’ (usually you as parent or carer) can participate in the process, to support and advocate for your child. If your child is Aboriginal, the school must ensure a Koori Education Support Officer is available to support your child and family if you wish.

All notifications and information throughout the process must be provided in alternative formats and your first language, if you have a disability and/or if you require translations or an interpreter. You have the right to have a support person with you in any meeting with the school – who might be a friend, family member or a professional (for example a support worker from an advocacy organisation like ACD).

The school must not suspend or expel your child unless they have had the opportunity to be heard, and any relevant information provided by you or your child has been taken into account.