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.

Is this a major concern to you as well?

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  • I agree with mom160421 that the parents aren’t preparing their children for prep school. Children biting, fighting and kicking doesn’t happen overnight – what did mum and dad do at home that they didn’t stop these actions rather than condoning them?


  • It is very concerning. As is the behaviour that led to the suspension. What’s a bigger concern is the behaviours that aren’t even acknowledged, so much destructive things being done and nothing happening to them


  • Sadly your son may be disrupting both the teacher and pupils during class time.
    I wonder if the school your son is at has any teacher aides or special needs teachers who assist children in some classes or use alternative teaching methods. Maybe if you could get a written report from your son’s phsycologist. Ask about a General Practise Medical Plan. That may not be the correct name. Your child should get 5 free phsycologist treatments per year via Medicare. I was recently told by a GP that if it is classed as a Mental Health issue, sometimes if a plan is done at 6 months you may be entitled to a total of 10 per calender year.
    Some children will fight to compete with others at school yet don’t do it at home with siblings at all. Some are bullied and do it to defend themselves. I was bullied by a couple pupils while others stood around and cheered. I was going home with bruises but was shy so I didn’t say anything to anybody including my parents. One young lad stood back and watched for a few days to work out who the leaders were. It was mostly one who actually started it. One day this lad stepped in and hit the culprit hard enough to give him a shock and yelled at him to leave me alone. He told him if he did it again he would hurt him next time. It worked. I loved going to school after that.


  • My 5 year old son has been suspended this year from prep a total of 23 days!
    He has been diagnosed with ADHD & is now medicated & is also mildly impaired with his working memory (short term memory)0 but the school just kept suspending him. I kept the school up to date with every appointment I had with the Paediatrician & psycologist.


  • I think it’s the parents that are failing their children by not preparing them for school and instead expecting teachers to both teach and discipline children.


  • schools need to be more tolerant, and/or implement behaviour classes


  • It does seem very strange for a prep student to be suspended!


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