School suspensions

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The rules on suspensions and expulsions are different depending on whether you go to a public government school or a private school. This page only applies if you go to a public school in the Northern Territory. If you attend a private, independent or Catholic school please contact us here with your question.  

Every Australian child has a right to education. This means your school cannot suspend or expel you without very good reasons and a clear process. It also means your school must act fairly if they are planning on suspending or expelling you from school. If you think you are being unfairly punished, you can appeal the decision

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What is suspension?

Suspension is when the school asks you to leave school for a short time up to one month.  

What can you be suspended for?

You can be suspended from school if your Principal is satisfied that your behaviour at school means you could be harmful to others at the school.  Examples of such behaviour are:

  • Being  very disrespectful to others; or
  • Repeatedly disobeying  teachers; or
  • Behaving immorally; or
  • Seriously  breaching school discipline.

How long can you be suspended for?

You can be suspended for up to one month. While you are suspended the school must continue to give you school work to make sure that you do not fall behind in your school work.

What process does the school have to follow?

The Principal must follow certain rules before suspending you. Your parents or guardians must be given an opportunity to speak to the school on your behalf.

The Principal must also:

  • give you a written Notice of Suspension
  • give a copy of the Notice of Suspension to your parents and the CEO of NT Schools as soon as possible

What must happen before you return to school?

Before you return to school, someone from the school must:

  • Organise a meeting with you and your parents to discuss your return; and
  • Let you know that they may place certain conditions on your return to school; and
  • Where possible,  ask your parents to  help set up a program  to make it easier for you to  settle back into school; and
  • Get teachers involved in the program that will help you settle back into school.

What if you disagree with the suspension?

Step 1: Discussion with your Principal

You and your parents can go to the Principal and ask them to review the suspension.   In order to get the Principal to review the suspension, you have to be able to give evidence which was not available when the school first decided to suspend you.    It’s up to the principal to then decide whether to cancel the suspension or change how long it’s for.  They will decide this depending on whether you are genuinely sorry for what you have done, and have agreed with whatever the school proposes about how to change your behaviour in the future.

The Principal has to let you know what they decide in writing.

Step 2: Contact your Regional Office or DET Complaints Line

If you do not agree with the Principal’s decision after the review, you can contact the regional office for your school or call the Department of Education & Training Complaints Line as soon as possible.

You can find the name and contact details of your regional office by typing in your school name here:

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school.

What will a suspension mean for your future?

Information held by the Education Department about your suspension or expulsion is not public information. It can only be shown to others if you give permission.

For more information

If you have more questions about suspensions of expulsions, you can get help here.
You can also read the Department of Education’s policies on suspension and expulsion here (Northern Territory Northern Territory Government. Department of Education and Children’s Services Expulsion Guidelines February 2012 DET File: 2011/1553:5.5.

Finally, if you are finding that being out of school is very difficult and stressful and you are feeling a bit down you can call Kids Helpline or check them out here:

The Helpline is free and you don’t have to tell them who you are. You can also call them for free on 1800 55 1800.

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