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School Rules

Northern Territory

This page explains the law about school rules at public schools in the Northern Territory. If you have any questions about school rules at a private school, please send us a Lawmail and include the name of your school.

How can I find out what my school rules are?

Q: Hi my name is Melissa. I have recently moved from New South Wales to the Northern Territory and have started at a new school. The rules seem different to my New South Wales school. How can I find out what my school rules are?

A: Hi Melissa. Your school is required to ensure that the school rules are easily available for students and parents to access. When you enrol at a new school you or your parents are required to sign an enrolment form. When you or your parents signed the enrolment form the school will have given you a copy of the school rules. If you weren’t given a copy or can’t find them you can usually find the school’s rules on their website or in the school diary.

School rules are sometimes posted on notice boards outside the school office, in your classroom or around the school. If you would like a copy of the school rules or the school’s discipline policy you can ask at the school office for a copy.  You can also ask the Principal if you have trouble getting them from the school office or online.

The Northern Territory Department of Education and Training gives policy advice to schools, but each school is responsible for making their own rules. Rules can be added to or changed. Changes to school rules should be announced at school assemblies, in class or in school newsletters after appropriate discussion with the wider school community.
You can read more about school policies in the Northern Territory here.

What can my school make rules about?

Q: Hi my name is Sonia. What can my school make rules about?

A: Hi Sonia, Schools are generally allowed to make rules about what you do during school hours and on school grounds. Schools can make rules:

  • to ensure that you and other students and staff members are safe at school;
  • to provide a positive and supportive learning environment;
  • to promote an inclusive environment free from harassment and bullying;
  •  to ensure the smooth running of the school and administration.

Your school is also likely to have rules specific to your school. Most schools will have policies on things like:

  • behaviour (in class and during recess/lunch)
  • school uniform 
  • homework
  • attendance
  • use of technology (using your phone, accessing social media (like Facebook) or accessing specific websites on school grounds, online behaviour on laptops and phones including cyberbullying)
  • Detention, Suspension, Exclusion and Expulsion
  • Transport Services for students travelling to and from school.

The school can also enforce its rules in relation to students on their way to and from school, as well as at any school-endorsed activities.

If a rule is unfair or I think I’ve been treated unfairly, how can I challenge the school rules?

Q: Hi my name is Jerry. If a rule is unfair or I think I’ve been treated unfairly how can I challenge the school rules?

A: Hi Jerry. Your school should always be the first point of contact for raising any concerns or complaints about school rules. Often, a school is open to finding a solution that takes into consideration any concerns of their students and their families.

You should get a copy of the school rules or behaviour code from the school office or Principal then: 

  • Talk with your friends and fellow students and see if they agree with you that a particular rule or policy is unfair and should be changed;
  • Think through some reasons why you consider the rule is unfair or should be changed, and write down these reasons;
  • Talk to your teacher about what you consider to be unjust or unfair in a calm and polite manner.
  • It might be a good idea to use a member of the Student Representative Council or a fellow student who you feel comfortable with to talk with your teacher.

If your school has a Student Representative Council this may be a good place to share your concerns with other students. The student representative body should provide a means to share your opinion about the way your school is run and any changes made that students should have a say about.

If you’re still not happy with the way the school is dealing with your matter you should talk to another teacher or deputy principal. If you would like to take the matter further you can contact the NorthernTerritory Department of Education and Training.  It’s a good idea to talk to your parents as they can make a complaint on your behalf and can support you in your complaint to the Department of Education. If you need some help you can send us a Lawmail and we will provide you with advice and information.

Jerry, school rules must be fair and must apply to all students. School rules must not discriminate against one group of students in favour of another group. If you think that you have been treated unfairly or in a manner different to the other students there are further steps that you can take outside of the school process. This can include making a formal complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission  or the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission (you can only make a complaint to one).  If you believe that you have been treated unfairly or differently you can send us a Lawmail asking for further advice.

If you have a question about school rules that we haven’t answered here please send us a Lawmail.

This page was last updated 20 March 2015.


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