Education minister releases draft action plan for WA schools

Education Minister Sue Ellery visited Bunbury earlier this year and spoke at an Education Forum hosted by Bunbury MLA Don Punch. Photo: Emily Sharp.
Education Minister Sue Ellery visited Bunbury earlier this year and spoke at an Education Forum hosted by Bunbury MLA Don Punch. Photo: Emily Sharp.

Automatic suspensions of students who assault other students is being considered as part of the state government’s plan to reduce violence in schools.

The overhaul of policy was announced earlier this year by Education minister Sue Ellery following a bout of violent incidences across the state, including a lock down at an Eaton school earlier this year. 

Ms Ellery said she was shocked and appalled by some of the violence she had seen in schools this year.

“Something has to change – we need to get tougher,” she said.

“The majority of students do the right thing, but we do not want to continue hearing stories about students or staff being attacked in places that are designed for learning.”

Stakeholders from across the education sector have agreed to be involved in developing the Violence in Schools Action Plan, to help reduce intentional violence in schools.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said it was a good step forward.

“There are not many fights that occur in schools these days that the kids don’t tend to find out about before they happen,” he said. 

“We need students to stand up and say violence is not acceptable and to let people in authority know so that fights can be prevented.

"I think it’s a combination of holding people to account and putting in mechanisms to make it easier for people prevent a fight from occurring in the first place." 

Mr Punch said he believed the time Ms Ellery spent in Bunbury earlier this year visiting schools and speaking with teachers helped to inform her decision to create the new policy. 

“There were certainly people who were expressing their concern but it is an issue across the state and I think the Minister got some clear indications from the stakeholder community down here,” he said. 

Ms Ellery said the support of the whole community was needed to improve the violence in schools.

“I’m under no illusion that this is a big issue and it will be impossible to completely eradicate violent incidents, but we must do better,” she said.

“These issues do not start and finish with the school bell and schools alone cannot address this.”

The plan will include long-term policies about when students should be suspended, what a school’s duty of care is and how to manage repeat offenders.