Requirement to enrol violent students in New Zealand schools a 'vice' principals are stuck in

The requirement to enrol students, including violent students, while ensuring a safe school environment is a "vice" principals are stuck in, according to Principals Federation president Perry Rush.

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Principals Federation president Perry Rush said his organisation supported an option where students are able to move between schools. Source: Breakfast

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast today Mr Rush said that while there were no easy solutions, a prototype programme championed by Education Associate Minister Tracey Martin, where students can move between schools, had benefits.

“The challenge here is we are required to enrol students but also to ensure we have a safe and healthy environment for students, principals and student feel that that’s a vice that we’re right in the middle of,” Mr Rush said.

“There is no easy solution and I think what we could love to see are more options so we can meet the needs of the students experiencing violence and abuse.”

The programme which had the backing of Ms Martin was one the Principals Federation also supported.

“One option currently in place in Napier, it’s a prototype called Te Tupu Managed Moves, it’s a prototype supported by Tracey Martin, it is an approach that effectively allows students to move between schools,” he said.

“So that if they are experiencing violence or at risk of suspension and exclusion, they can come away from their home school and attend another school for a 10-week period.”

“At that end of that time they can move back to their original school or stay in the new school they have gone to, I think that sharing the challenge across a community of schools is a really brave idea, this exists in the country.”

The need for such a programme came out of trying to deal with students who were not functioning in the classroom, though Mr Rush maintained that schools were equipped to deal with challenging students.

“I think in this instance we know these students are very seriously dysfunctional,” he said.

“These students often spit, kick, hurt, throw furniture, there are often evacuations that take place in classrooms so that other students can get away from the behaviour safely.”

“I think there’s a question about whether it’s appropriate to have these students in a classroom setting, the question then becomes what options are.”