PAAA: Press Release: 16th October 2020 

A disproportionate number of vulnerable children with ADHD will continue to be suspended from NSW schools if proposed Government policy changes go ahead without additional consultation with principals, teachers, parents and advocacy groups representing children and young people. 

Parents for ADHD Advocacy Australia (PAAA) have called for the NSW Department of Education to open its new Student Behaviour Strategy for further consultation and feedback from key stakeholder groups before implementing it in schools next year, saying a failure to do so will result in a policy that continues to disadvantage the learning outcomes and well-being of vulnerable students. 

PAAA spokeswoman Louise Kuchel said groups representing children with ADHD and other disabilities need to have more input into the policy to ensure it can be implemented consistently in every NSW school to drive a downward shift in the disproportionate number of suspensions experienced by these students. 

Louise Kuchel said, “During October ADHD Awareness month, it is important to shine the light on  some of the critical gaps that currently exist in the capacity of schools to support students with ADHD  and meet their legal obligations to provide an inclusive education under disability legislation.” 

PAAA’s 2019 survey Parents & carer experiences of ADHD in Australian Schools: Critical Gaps found that students with ADHD are suffering educational neglect by missing out on multiple days of learning due to high rates of suspensions and other exclusionary practices and in some cases are pushed out of schools or formal education altogether. According to the survey, a quarter of students with ADHD  have been suspended, an average of 3.7 times each. 41% of all suspended students were in Years  K-2. Many of these students were missing out on adjustments to support their learning. One in three students with ADHD changed schools.  

“While the Behaviour Strategy is seeking the right outcomes for students in terms of minimising the use of suspensions, it is not detailed enough,” Louise said. “Also, in addition to the significant hours of denied education experienced by students, one of the biggest issues to address is the negative impact the complex and biased appeals process can have on the mental health of students and their families. This has been depicted in the testimonies given in the Disability Royal Commission public  hearings which is sadly reflective of the experiences of many families we represent.” 

The Behaviour Strategy should ensure that Inclusive education is at the heart of the revised  Behaviour Strategy. Extensive work still needs to be done to create a cultural shift and understanding  within schools that suspensions, detention and other exclusionary, punitive practices should only be  considered as a last possible resort for students with ADHD and other disabilities, after all avenues  stipulated within the DSE, DDA and behaviour policies have been exhausted.” 

She said “Because it’s such a significant policy update, and long overdue, it’s important that all stakeholders can contribute to ensure this reform has tangible, positive changes on the ground. We  want consultation to take place urgently to meet the scheduled rollout of Term 1 2021 and we call for an overhaul of the appeals process to make it fair, accessible and transparent for everyone.” 

A key goal of PAAA is to increase the capacity of schools to support students with ADHD and comorbid conditions, in a proactive and evidence-based manner.  

“Parent/Carer Experiences of ADHD and Schools: Critical Gaps” is available on request or download at 

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Louise Kuchel 0422 035 156 Parents for ADHD  Advocacy Australia

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