AN average of four Orange students per week were suspended last year from public schools, yet the city’s students are better behaved than their Bathurst or Dubbo counterparts.
Figures compiled by the NSW Department of Education and Communities for the 2012 academic year show that Orange public schools handed down 164 long-term suspensions of between four and 20 days for behaviour ranging from physical violence to using a weapon or possession of illegal substances.
Yet the department insists schools are the safest places in the community.
“But from time to time incidents do affect our schools, as they affect communities and society as a whole,” a department spokesperson said.
“Long suspensions tend to fluctuate from year to year.
“Fluctuations occur between areas. Although Orange had less long-term suspensions than Bathurst in 2012, the situation was reversed in 2011.”
The figure of 164 suspensions represented 2.6 per cent of Orange’s public school students, compared to the state average of 2.4 per cent.
By comparison, 222 Bathurst region public school students were given long suspensions (3.3 per cent) and 314 Dubbo public students (4.3 per cent).
Across the western region, which includes Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo, Cowra, Broken Hill and Bourke, there were 13 expulsions for misbehaviour, the fifth highest number in the state’s ten regions, behind Hunter Central Coast, South Western Sydney, North Coast and the Illawarra and South East.
Persistent misbehaviour was the main reason for long-term suspension in western NSW, accounting for 48 per cent of instances, followed by physical violence with 43 per cent.
The use or possession of a prohibited weapon or firearm was the reason for two per cent of long suspensions, the same figure as possession of illegal substances and using or threatening to use an implement as a weapon.
The spokesperson said suspension was not intended as a punishment.
“Suspension is only one strategy to manage inappropriate student behaviour within a school’s student welfare and discipline policies,” the spokesperson said.
“In the majority of cases schools will have implemented a range of strategies to support a student to manage their behaviour prior to considering suspension.
“This may include time out strategies, either in the classroom or outside of the normal class environment.”
There was only one expulsion for unsatisfactory participation, which equals the lowest number in the state.