Seclusion not acceptable behaviour management

Here are answers to some common questions that might help you understand how your child’s school manages challenging behaviour.

Are most schools New Zealand using good practices in managing challenging behaviour?

Yes. The vast majority of schools in New Zealand have good practices in place for managing the challenging behaviour of a small number of students in a safe and inclusive way.

Most teachers and schools already establish individual behavioural plans that can include both preventative and de-escalation techniques for children and young people. Individual behavioural plans are developed depending on the needs of the child or young person.  

Preventative techniques include:

  • getting to know the student and identifying potentially difficult times or situations that may be stressful or difficult for them
  • identifying student’s personal signs of stress or unhappiness and intervening early
  • monitoring wider classroom/playground behaviour carefully for potential areas of conflict.

De-escalation techniques include:

  • creating a safe and open physical space for children and young people
  • communicating calmly and quietly, while remaining calm
  • monitoring body language.

What is the Ministry of Education doing to manage and support schools that were using seclusion as a method of managing challenging behaviour?

We recognise that all schools are faced with very difficult and challenging situations from time to time and it is our duty to support schools that need extra help, to manage difficult and challenging behaviour appropriately.

The Ministry has taken action to work with the small proportion of schools that were using seclusion, in order to cease this practice.

We are providing ongoing support to these schools, to ensure that they have a good understanding of other behaviour management tools in place to de-escalate challenging behaviour and keep students and staff safe.

What should I do to understand my school’s approach to managing challenging behaviour?

You should talk to your school to understand their approach to managing challenging behaviour.

There are a number of documents that you can talk to your school about that may provide more information on their behaviour management or disciplinary procedures, including the school charter or any school policies that describe their behaviour management or disciplinary procedures.

You should ask your school to share this information with you, either by talking them through with you, or by sharing the relevant documents.

What can I do if I'm concerned about how my children’s school is managing my child’s behaviour?

If you are concerned about how your child’s school is managing your child’s behaviour, you can discuss with your child’s teacher and school, any issues that they may have with your child’s behaviour and how they manage it. You can also ask the school about the policies and processes they use to manage challenging behaviour. 

If you are still unhappy with how the school has managed your child’s behaviour, you can contact the school and follow their complaints process. You are also able to contact the Board of Trustees of your school.

Finally, if you still have concerns, then you can contact your local Ministry of Education office to escalate your complaint. We investigate every complaint we receive in order to establish the facts and what action should be taken.

Share this story

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.