A disproportionate number of children expelled from Victorian government schools have a disability, are in out-of-home care, or identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, according to the Victorian Ombudsman.
The report found significant reform is required to measure exactly how many children are excluded from government schools each year, and to ensure no child is ever excluded entirely from the Victorian education system.
Victorian Education Department figures state that 278 children were expelled from the Victorian government school system in 2016.
A previous Ombudsman investigation in 2015 on the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners identified educational disadvantage starting in childhood as a key factor leading to imprisonment as an adult.
The investigation - which involved outreach with parent and community groups across the state – identified that many children expelled from schools display behaviour stemming from disruption and disadvantage in their lives and called for major investment in the school system to help such children.
The key recommendations from the report are:
- [That the Minister for Education] Amend Ministerial Order 625 to ensure that a principal cannot expel a student aged eight years old or less from any government school without the approval of the Secretary or her delegate and consider any additional changes to the Order necessary to give effect to the recommendations that follow.
- [That the Department of Education] Embed the principle and expectation in policy or guidance that no student of compulsory school age will be excluded from the government school system (even if expelled from an individual government school).
The investigation did not examine expulsions from private schools, as the Victorian Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction in the area.