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Suspension ineffective? Ministry revisiting school disciplinary policy

Suspension ineffective? Ministry revisiting school disciplinary policy

The Ministry of Education is revisiting existing disciplinary policies implemented for students presenting with behavioural issues at schools.
Education Minister Sharie de Castro made that announcement while appearing as a guest speaker at a meeting with the Rotary Club of Central Tortola recently.

The minister describes as “a huge problem”, the existing policy of suspending undisciplined students from school. According to de Castro, suspension or the threat of it is largely meaningless to these types of students.

“So, you have an infraction and there is a consequence but often times the main consequence that has been perpetuated is suspension. Suspension is ‘I don’t get to come to school’. [What we are re-examining now is] how do we create other opportunities for consequences … We’ve started to have a discussion about it,” de Castro shared.

She said one option being considered is tying the consequence to a productive activity that behaviourally challenged students enjoy.

As things stand now, students are allowed to participate in extracurricular activities regardless of grades or behaviour but de Castro said this is something that could potentially change.

“My consequence [for behavioural issues] at the first instance is not suspension. [For example], children like athletics… If you really like track, or basketball or soccer and you really want to keep doing it, if I tell you that you can’t do it if you choose to behave in a certain way or don’t have the grades, trust me, innately if you’re passionate about it, you’re going to do what you got to do to be in school because you understand there is a consequence for your action but the consequence is tied to something that you love,” she explained.

The first-term legislator, who only recently inherited the education ministerial portfolio, said there are other options to consider such as “alternate education”.

She said she recently had a meeting with secondary school principals and other members of her ministry about the subject matter. “We strategised and we’re currently re-looking at the discipline policy,” she said.

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