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School Rules

Western Australia

This page explains the law about school rules at public schools in Western Australia.

How can I find out what my school rules are?
What can my school make rules about?
If a rule is unfair or I think I’ve been treated unfairly, how can I challenge the school rules?

How can I find out what my school rules are?

Q: My name is Hermione. My family recently moved to Western Australia so I’m going to a new school. I don’t want to accidentally do something that’s against the rules. How do I find out what my new school’s rules are?

A: Hi Hermione thanks for writing to us. Your school is required to let you know what the school rules are. When your parents enrolled you at your new school they (or you) will have been asked to sign a enrolment form. One of the conditions required when enrolling is for you to agree to abide by any school rule or policy. As you’re being asked to sign to this the school needs to provide you with a copy of the rules.

Most schools have a school handbook or information booklet for parents and students. This is normally given out at the beginning of each year and sets out the school rules. If you or your parents don’t have a copy there are other ways you can find out what the rules are.

Schools generally will display their rules in a prominent place. This could be on the school website or in your school diary. The rules may also be posted on a school noticeboard or in your homeroom classroom. If you can’t find your school rules you can ask a school staff member at the front office for a copy, your homeroom teacher or your school principal.

The Western Australian Department of Education 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.

What can my school make rules about?

Q: Hi, my name is Cher. My teacher saw me texting during lunchtime today and confiscated my mobile phone! That is just so unfair! Does my teacher have the right to confiscate my phone?

A: Hi Cher, yes your school can make rules about when you can use your phone, and this may mean that your teacher does have the right to confiscate your phone if you are not allowed to use your phone during lunchtime.  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’ll have to follow these rules.

Your school is most likely to have rules regarding online behaviour on laptops and phones, such as how cyberbullying will be dealt with.

Schools can also 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.

Depending on the school you attend they may also have rules specific to your school. Most schools will have policies on:

  • Dress Codes;
  • Behaviour Codes;
  • Internet, Digital Devices and Safety;
  • Detention, Suspension, Exclusion and Expulsion.

Generally schools can’t 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, immediately before and after school and when travelling to and home from school. 

You may find it useful to read the Department of Education’s Policy Statement on ‘Behaviour Management in Schools.' You can read information on mobile phone use on page 5.

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

Q: Hey, my name is Justin. I recently got my right ear pierced, and my Principal told me last week that I have to take out my earring or else I’ll get a detention. I don’t think it’s fair that the girls are allowed to wear earrings, but the guys can’t. Can I do something to get the rule changed?

A: Hi Justin. Your 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.

You can influence school rules by talking to other people (such as fellow students, parents or a sympathetic teacher) to see if they think a particular rule is unfair and should be changed. It would be a good idea to write down why you think the rule is unfair. You can then try speaking to the school council or principal, using a student representative, to explain your view.

If, after meeting with the school, you still feel like you have been treated unfairly, you can make a complaint to the Department of Education.  In your complaint, you must outline the steps you have taken to try to resolve the matter.  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.

You can send your written complaint to:

Private and Confidential
Executive Director
Professional Standards and Conduct
Department of Education
151 Royal Street

If you’re not satisfied with the outcome or 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 the Western Australia Ombudsman or the Western Australia Equal Opportunity Commission.

This page was last updated on 16/03/2015.




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     · A footnote that will be seen below the existing content of each state.