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Discipline and Punishment

Western Australia

This information will apply to you if you go to a state (or government) school in Western Australia. If you go to a private or Catholic school, you and your school’s legal rights may be different.

How long can a school detain you for after school?

Can I be punished for something that happened outside school?

 

How long can a school make you attend detention after school and during lunch?

Q: Hi there! My name is Anna and I attend school in Western Australia. Last week my geography teacher kept me in all lunch because I threw a pen which *accidentally* hit my arch-nemesis on the head. The other day the same teacher caught me doing the same thing and kept me back after school in detention. How long can my school keep me in detention during recess, lunch or after school?

A: Hi Anna. There are no laws that limit the amount of time a teacher can keep you in for a recess or lunch detention, so they can keep you in for the entire period if they have a good reason.

A public school teacher can only keep a student in from recess, lunch or other school activities to:

  • give a disruptive student the opportunity to calm down and reflect on their behaviour;
  • talk about behaviour management strategies; or  
  • deal with conflict and restore the sense of community.


If you are kept in from recess or lunch breaks, you must be given a supervised break at another time.  Your school must also inform your parents of recess and lunch time detentions.

AFTER SCHOOL DETENTION

A public school teacher can only keep you in after school detention if the school has:

  • taken reasonable steps to contact your parents or a person responsible for you; and
  • ensured that an arrangement has been made for you to get home, and this has been agreed to by your parents or a person responsible for you.
  • You can *only* be held in after school detention for 30 minutes unless:
  • your parent or a person responsible for you has been told about your detention; and
  • the school has ensured that an arrangement has been made for you to get home, and your parent or a person responsible for you has agreed to this.

If you go to a private school, the amount of time your school can keep you in detention at recess, lunch or after school will depend on your school rules or the school’s discipline policy. 

If you would like a copy of the school rules or the school’s discipline policy, ask at the school office or look on the school website or intranet. You can ask the Principal if you have trouble getting them from the school office or online.

If you are unhappy about your teacher’s approach to detention, you can ask to talk to your teacher or have your parents call the school office and set up a meeting to speak with the teacher. If you are not comfortable talking to the teacher, you could set up a meeting with your Principal instead. You could also consider talking to your school counsellor.

If you have talked to the school and you are not happy with their response, you can get your parents to speak to the Department of Education. They can help you and your parents to resolve the issue. You can find more information about the process for complaints and disputes here.

For more information on recess, lunch and after-school detention, see the Department of Education’s Behaviour Management at Schools policy.

Can I be punished for something that I did outside of school? And can the school reprimand me for it publicly?


Q: Hi, my name is William and I go to school in Western Australia. The police caught me smoking my dad’s cigarettes the other day. They let me off, but my school found out and gave me a detention. The school Principal must have told my PDHPE teacher, because she mentioned what happened to me in front of my class! Can I be punished for something I did outside of school? Is my PDHPE teacher allowed to tell everyone about what I did?

A: Hi William, If something happens outside of school, outside of school hours, and when you’re not in your school’s care, generally you shouldn’t be disciplined or dealt with by the school for your behaviour.

However, your school discipline policy may apply outside of school hours and off school premises where there is a close connection between the school and the conduct of students. This might include if you are in school uniform, it can even include social media use in out of school hours if it relates to the school, teachers or other students.

One example might be if you did something to threaten the safety, or damaged property, of another student or staff member of the school.

It wasn’t appropriate for your school to give you a detention or for your PDHPE teacher to tell your class about your run-in with the police. Teachers don’t have the right or the authority to treat you in a way that’s nasty or offensive. You have the right to be treated with respect at all times, just as you have the responsibility to treat teachers and other students with respect. This is particularly true if they are treating you differently because of a certain characteristic such as your gender , sexual orientation, race, disability or age.

If you are unhappy about the way you’ve been treated, you can ask to talk to the teacher or have your parents call the school office and set up a meeting to speak with the teacher.

If you are not comfortable talking to the teacher, you could set up a meeting with your school Principal instead. You could also consider talking to your school counsellor.

If you have talked to the school and you are not happy with their response, you can get your parents to speak to the Department of Education. They can help you and your parents to resolve the issue. You can find more information about the process for complaints and disputes here.


 This page was last updated 16 April 2015.


 

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