Teachers, principals bashed: Our school suspension shame
ALMOST 25,000 students have been suspended from schools in the Cairns region in the past five years - a rate far greater than the Queensland average.
Some of our biggest schools have suspended up to 2000-plus students each, including Bentley Park College, Trinity Bay State High School and Woree State High School.
Smithfield State High School had 1135 suspensions, Gordonvale State High School 1131, Cairns West State School 1077, Cairns State High School 963 and Hambledon State School 866.
Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said schools were suspending pupils as a last resort as classrooms became a battleground for far bigger social issues.
He said teachers were the second most likely professionals to be assaulted in their work, behind police, as students fought authority figures, often backed by their families and the wider community.
"We are seeing teachers and principals being assaulted on a regular basis," Mr Bates said.
"As a community we have to push back against that.
"Let's talk about why students are behaving the way they are. Kids are coming from all sorts of family experiences including domestic violence, neglect, abuse and alcoholism.''
Queensland education experts have questioned the strategy of suspending students, saying Queensland's rate was almost twice that of New South Wales in 2018.
But Mr Bates said the extreme measures were in response to unacceptable behaviour by some students.
He said there needed to be far more professional support officers to help schools deal with the root causes of problem behaviour.
Currently there are only 500 to 600 such positions across more than 1200 schools.
However, the latest Queensland budget provided $100m for an extra 464 professional support staff.
But Mr Bates said schools alone could not be expected to resolve behavioural problems.
"It's also about what is happening at home," he said.
"There are significant community and society issues that are being played out in our classrooms."
Cairns MP Michael Healy was too busy to discuss the issue yesterday, but his office pointed out that last year the number of disciplinary absences fell for the first time in six years.
Across the greater Cairns region, about 25 students a day are being suspended.
Across Queensland, an average of 385 suspensions were issued to state school students each school day between 2015 to 2019.
Over the five-year period, 359,983 short suspensions, 14,622 long suspensions, 8001 expulsions and 6144 cancelled enrolments were handed out.
But Mr Healy's office said strategies being put in place by principals and teachers were effective.
"The vast majority of Queensland state school students never receive a school disciplinary absence," it said.
Bentley Park College 2020
Trinity Bay State High School 1998
Woree State High School 1759
Smithfield State High School 1135
Gordonvale State High School 1131
Cairns West State School 1077
Cairns State High School 963
Kuranda District State College 674
Mareeba State School 512
Tully State High School 719
Innisfail State School 138
Innisfail East State School 124
Tully State School 110
Ravenshoe State School 1079
Atherton State High School 670
Malanda State High School 191
Cooktown State School 740
Bloomfield River State School 108
Yarrabah State School 1238
Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy 227
Lockhart State School 107
Northern Peninsula Area State College 1131
Mossman State High School 754
Originally published as Report card reveals almost 25,000 Far North school suspensions