The rising number of Prep students being suspended from schools has been put under major scrutiny.
A special forum hosted by the ABC in Brisbane, Learning Curve, a recording of which airs tonight on ABC TV in Queensland and on ABC News 24 nationally, featured some of the best education minds in the state, facing question from an audience of concerned parents, teachers and experts.
“We are actually seeing in this state now a high rate of exclusions and suspensions in prep,” child psychologist from University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Dr Michael Nagel said.
“Kids in prep are being suspended.”
“Now the question you have to ask is not what is wrong with the child, but what is wrong with the system?
“Because if a child of four years of age is being thrown out of a prep class then something is seriously wrong and it hasn’t got anything to do with the child I would argue.”
Dr Nagel said USC was investigating the matter.
“Even if one child in the state is excluded from prep, I think we have to ask some serious questions about why that may be and what’s going on in prep.”
Figures from 2013 showed 580 state school prep suspensions for incidents like kicking, punching, biting and swearing.
Statistics from 2014 almost doubled, but dropped in 2015.
Dr Nagel said there was decades of research saying children in early stages of schooling “need to play in all manner of play”.
State Education Minister Kate Jones, who was on the panel, said her department was working with Griffith University to research the best practice.
“Griffith have been working with teachers right across Queensland to do that and I’ve expanded that program for next year,” Ms Jones said.
“I’ve heard loud and clear that we want to see more play-based learning in those early years and that is exactly what we are starting to do through this partnership with Griffith University.”
Watch Learning Curve tonight from 7:30pm on ABC TV in Queensland or on ABC News 24.
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