The Queensland Government has announced ‘sweeping reforms’ aimed at strengthening discipline in Queensland’s state schools by giving greater power to principals and cutting red tape.

State Education Minister, John-Paul Langbroek, said that the reforms will introduce new behaviour contracts with students and families, expand the number of alternative learning centres for students with complex behaviour needs as well as introducing school discipline audits.

Mr Langbroek said that the discipline plan formed the first of 15 new strategies that will be developed under the Government’s Great Teachers = Great Results initiative.

“We know that discipline works when there are clear expectations for standards of behaviour and meaningful consequences when students do not comply with these standards,” Mr Langbroek said.   

“Some non-state schools impose Saturday detentions as a consequence for unacceptable behaviour and we want state school principals to have the same power. 

“This is about reducing the number of exclusions by giving principals more tools to nip poor behaviour in the bud before it escalates.”

Mr Langbroek said that it had become evident that systemic behavioural problems had crept into the system, and that one of the main reasons was that principals were not gratned enough power in dealing with trouble.

“Currently, principals have 41 pages of legislation that prescribes what they can and can’t do with respect to discipline,” Mr Langbroek said.

The Minister said that the State Government would remove the red tape surrounding pincipals, allowing them to implement discipline standards.

Mr Langbroek said principals would also be encouraged to establish Discipline Improvement Plans or contracts of student behaviour with parents.

“Parents play a pivotal role in disciplining their children and schools cannot achieve improved behavioural outcomes without support from parents,” Mr Langbroek said,

Mr Langbroek said the reforms also included a plan to work with principals to apply community service interventions in order to provide meaningful consequences for unacceptable behaviour.

“Under our new plan principals will work with their school community to develop localised approaches to discipline.

“This may include working with local councils, volunteer organisations and other non-government agencies to improve students’ skills, and enhance respect for themselves and others through hard effort, commitment and teamwork.”