Reducing student "suspension rates" and engaging students in learning: Principal and teacher approaches that work

Geoffrey Riordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


The negative effects of student suspension from school on both the individual and the community are well documented and relate to a wide range of matters, including school completion rates, homelessness and crime. Two recent, extensive reviews of student suspensions in government and non-government schools in N.S.W. (Gonczi and Riordan, 2002; Riordan and Gonczi, 2003) suggest that variations among schools in rates of student suspension may be best
explained by ‘school effects’ and not characteristics of students. This article explores the key issues of principal and teacher attitudes and actions in relation to student suspensions with reference to three case studies. The discussion of these cases raises some key considerations for principals and teachers in difficult schools who wish to re-engage students in learning. Key themes discussed in this article include: the importance of a pedagogical as opposed to a punitive response to student misbehaviour; working in partnership with parents and the broader community to address behaviour and learning problems; and interpreting ‘state’ and ‘school system’ policies on student welfare and discipline through the lens of the school’s local context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalImproving Schools Improving Schools
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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