The College’s Discipline Policy

Thursday, 05 Mar 2020

Having a comprehensive discipline policy that is approved by the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) is a requirement for continued school registration (along with many other policies and procedures). It is important that schools have clear guidelines around expectations as this brings order to the school without which there would be chaos. It is timely to outline to everyone the framework for the policy.

Our policy is outlined (in part) below. It is important for parents to be aware of the full extent of what we expect from students and how the tiered approach to discipline (outlined below in the chart) is applied.  My colleagues want to arrive each day and teach without intentional student classroom disruption and we have an expectation that no student will intentionally disrupt or sabotage others’ learning. We live in a world saturated by ‘rights’ and with far less emphasis on ‘responsibilities’. Perhaps this is a natural consequence of a society that is focused on individual rather than communal thinking. Nevertheless, a summary of rights and responsibilities include: 

At MSC everyone has RIGHTS

STUDENTS have the right to: learn, work and socialise in a friendly, safe and supportive school feel valued and respected and to be listened to work toward academic, personal and social success to express ideas and opinions appropriately
to learn without constant intentional disruption  

TEACHERS have the right to: teach in a friendly, safe and satisfying school which is supported by the whole school community; expect and receive respect. teach without constant disruption to others’ learning 

PARENTS have the right to: feel welcome and to know that their children are working, learning and socializing in a friendly, safe and supportive school be listened to with respect participate as a member of the school community 


STUDENT Responsibilities to foster positive, respectful and appropriate relationships with all to be an active learner and take responsibility for aspects of their own learning to be accountable for their own behaviour to support and care for one another to respect the rights of others to represent the school in a positive manner to follow the school rules
to allow others to learn without disruption

STAFF Responsibilities to foster positive, respectful and appropriate relationships with students, parents and other staff to support and promote each student as a valued member of our community to support students in learning to support colleagues to provide a curriculum which is appropriate and designated to encourage students to succeed and maximize their potential to undertake professional development to encourage and support students to take responsibility for their own behaviour to be consistent in the implementation of the policies of the school 

PARENT Responsibilities To work cooperatively with teachers to support their child’s social, emotional and academic success
to support their children in their learning across all programs to inform the school of circumstances that may impact on the student’s progress and behaviour to communicate concerns to the school to inform the school of any knowledge they may have of bullying incidents involving any students at the school to support the policies of the school

Our tiered discipline policy below makes reference to BETLS. This guides us in understanding each student so that we are able to apply discipline in a measured and just way. 

What is BETLS?

It is a tool that requires us to consider:

1.       Behaviour

2.       Emotions

3.       Thoughts

4.       Learning

5.       Social relationships 

Identifying mental health difficulties

A child’s behaviour is often what first triggers our concerns about their mental health and well-being. We can categorise behaviours that give us cause for concern in 2 ways.

Externalising or ‘acting out’ behaviours are usually observable and relatively easy to detect e.g. disruptive, impulsive, angry or hyperactive behaviours

Internalising or ‘holding in’ behaviours primarily affect the individual child and not others around the child e.g. Inhibited or over-controlled behaviours, including withdrawal, worry, and emotional responses.

Deciding to seek help

On occasions, this becomes necessary. The decision to seek professional help (psychologist, paediatrician, family counselling etc) for a child and their family can be arrived at by considering and documenting what we know about concerning behaviours in terms of their:

·         Frequency – How often does the behaviour happen?

·         Severity – How does the child’s behaviour compare to other children’s behaviours within the same age group? Does it interfere with everyday functioning?

·         Persistence – When did the behaviour start and how long has it been going on? Does the behaviour only occur in certain situations, or across multiple situations?

·         Pervasiveness – Where does the behaviour occur? Home, childcare service, when visiting family/friends.

Considering the frequency, severity, persistence and pervasiveness of behaviours in conjunction with the KidsMatter BETLS model can assist educators who are observing and documenting what they know and notice about a child.

Hence, on the basis of the above, we acknowledge that discipline must be delivered with discretion. We believe that every case is different, and that, more importantly, every ‘offender’ is different. Often when we know a child better, knowing his/her context and reaching an understanding of the various pressures in his/her life, then matters of discipline become far less black and white. Indeed, a maxim might be stated that the better our pastoral care, the more nuanced must be our discipline procedures. 

A distinction can be made between acting ‘fairly’ and acting ‘justly’ in dealing with children in trouble. Fairly is when everyone is treated exactly the same way and this is the least that can be asked of any system of discipline. Acting justly is when you take other significant factors into consideration before acting, and this is a more exacting standard.


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