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School Rules


This page explains the law about school rules at public schools in Tasmania. 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 Calise and I have recently moved to Tasmania. I’ve just started in a new school, how can I find out what my school rules are?

A: Hi Calise. Your school’s rules must be made available for students and parents to access. Usually when you are enrolled at a new school you or your parents will be provided with a copy of the rules or behaviour policy. It is often a condition of enrolment that you or your parents on your behalf, agree to abide by the school behaviour policy. If you or your parents have signed to agree to be bound by the behaviour policy you should have definitely been provided with a copy. You may want to ask your parents or guardians if they have a copy.

If you don’t have a copy of the school policy or have lost it, you can usually find a copy of the school rules or behaviour policy on the school website, in your classroom or in the school diary. You may also see them posted on a school noticeboard. You can also ask at your school office or the school principal for a copy.

While the Tasmania Department of Education does give policy advice to schools  each school is responsible for making their own rules . Most schools have a school handbook or information booklet for parents and students. Rules can be added to or changed. Changes to school rules should be announced at school assemblies, in class or in school newsletters after discussion with the wider school community.

What can my school make rules about?

Q: Help! My name is Jim and my teacher caught me using my phone during lunchtime today and confiscated it! Can my school make rules about whether I can use my phone during lunchtime? What can my school make rules about?

A: Hi Jim, yes your school can make rules about when you can use your phone. All students are required to follow school rules and behaviour policies. If your school has special rules about not using mobile phones and other technology on school grounds, you will have to follow these rules. Your school can also make rules about other things like how much homework you need to do, what uniforms you must wear and how you must behave in the classroom and in the playground.

Generally schools cannot control what students do outside school hours and outside school grounds. But a school can make rules about what students do while they are in or near school grounds during school hours and immediately before and after school. Your school is required to provide adequate playground supervision thirty minutes before school, and some schools might also require supervision for after-school hours.

Schools can also make reasonable rules about what you can and cannot bring to school, including banning anything that is illegal, dangerous or is likely to cause disruption to the smooth running of the school. Your school rules will tell you when you are allowed to use your mobile phone as well as the type of behaviour expected when going online, including how cyberbullying will be dealt with. If you don’t follow these rules your phone may be confiscated. When confiscating your phone the teacher should tell you when they intend to return it to you. They are also required to keep it in a safe place where it cannot be damaged or lost.

If your phone hasn’t been returned or if you have a further question please send us a Lawmail.

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 Sophia. My teacher won’t let me go to the bathroom during class even though I ask her politely and don’t cause a distraction. I know my school has rules on not going to the bathroom during class-time but I don’t think this is fair. What can I do about it?

A: Hi Sophia, we’re sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time at school. Like you said, if your school has special rules on going to the bathroom during class, you will need to follow them. However, you should be able to use the bathroom if it affects your health, safety and wellbeing.

School rules must be fair, respectful and not endanger your safety or harm your wellbeing in any way. If you think that any particular rule your school has in place is unfair, we encourage you to speak to your teachers about it. If your school’s policy on zero bathroom breaks during classroom time affects your wellbeing you should ask to speak to the principal. If you have a particular health issue the school must provide a suitable alternative in order to protect your wellbeing. This may include things like giving you a special pass. 

If you’re not happy with how the school is handling the situation, you and your parents can make an appointment to speak to your principal about the school's responsibilities and how they can help you. If the rule does impact on a health issue that you have it would be a good idea to take along a letter from your doctor outlining the issue.

If the problem is still not resolved, you may make a complaint to the Department of Education and Training. If the matter is very serious and this has greatly affected you, the last point of appeal would be a review of the school’s decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. You can read more about the complaint process here.  Under the Freedom of Information Act 1989, you may also request documents and reasons for the school’s decision.  Before doing this however you may want to send us a Lawmail so that we can advise you of the best way to solve the problem.

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

This page was last updated 18 March 2015.

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