A new primary school in Canberra's north handed out 93 suspension last year while parent satisfaction at the school fell on most measures, new documents have revealed.
Margaret Hendry School in Taylor has come under fire from some parents over the heavy use of suspensions to deal with behavioural issues.
The Education Directorate initially refused to reveal the number of suspensions issued at the school since it opened in 2019, but the data has since been given to The Canberra Times under freedom of information laws.
In 2020, the school issued 93 suspensions throughout the year with a total of 174 suspension days.
In 2019, the school issued 36 suspensions, totalling 75.5 suspension days.
This year the school issued 11 suspensions up to May 14, adding up to 26 suspension days.
The longest suspension handed out to a child was five-and-a-half days.
The suspension data for all public schools in 2020 has not yet been published by the Education Directorate.
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It follow reports from parents that children as young as five were repeatedly being suspended at the school, despite suffering from trauma and disabilities such as ADHD.
When ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry was asked if she was concerned suspensions were being overused to manage students' behaviour, an ACT government spokeswoman responded that suspensions were not a punitive measure.
"Earlier this year the Education Directorate developed additional advice to assist principals when deciding whether or not to suspend a student," the spokeswoman said.
"This further advice was circulated through directorate channels to school principals. The Education Directorate also monitors suspension data."
Since the school opened in 2019, 12 teachers have left, including seven permanent teachers and five temporary teachers. There were 52 teachers recruited in that time.
The spokeswoman said the staffing profile at Margaret Hendry School was expected to stabilise in the coming years.
The documents also showed the parent satisfaction survey results declined at the school between 2019 and 2020.
When asked if they were regularly informed of their child's progress 55.7 per cent of parents agreed while 62.9 per cent said student behaviour was well-managed at the school.
Only 55.7 per cent of parents agreed the achievements of students were celebrated and only 56.8 per cent were satisfied with the availability of healthy food and drink at the school.
Some parents said no merit awards were issued at the school for students' efforts and there was no canteen.
The government spokeswoman said a school improvement plan for 2022-2026 would be drafted in the second semester and published on the school's website before the end of the year.
"Margaret Hendry School is committed to providing all public school students equal access to a great education. The school delivers on the Australian curriculum with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy skills," she said.
She said the school satisfaction survey data was expected to stabilise over time but it would feed into the improvement plan.
"It is also worth noting that the 2019 data at Margaret Hendry School was markedly above the system average. When compared with all ACT P-6 schools, most items in the Margaret Hendry School parent satisfaction survey are either above or in line with the responses provided at other primary schools across the ACT," the spokeswoman said.
More families have left the school to go to other public schools since they raised concerns about their children falling behind and their needs not being met.
One mother said her child would require two years of private tutoring at a cost of $70 per week in order to catch up on literacy skills at the new school.
The Education Directorate held a community consultation session after the grievances came to light but parents were not allowed to talk about their specific concerns and media were not allowed to attend.
Following this several parents met with the school improvement team and negotiated to leave the school on wellbeing grounds.
The February school census figures showed enrolments at Margaret Hendry School increased from 487 in 2020 to 602 this year.
However, a breakdown of each year level showed not all of the 130 preschoolers from 2020 went on to kindergarten this year, with 12 fewer students in the 2021 kindergarten cohort. The year 4 cohort also lost 10 students compared to the year 3 group in 2020.
Enrolment projections provided by the Education Directorate showed the school was expected to grow to 1268 students, excluding preschoolers, by 2030.
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