Students appalled by corporal punishment remarks

Two of the leading Victorian peaks for young people, The Youth Affairs Council and the body representing secondary schools students, The VicSRC, have condemned recent comments made in the media by Kevin Donnelly, the Prime Minister’s key advisor on curriculum reform.

Tess Shacklock, Year 11 student and the young media spokesperson for the Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC) said "It’s wrong, completely wrong! It shows Dr Donnelly is out of touch with students and the modern classroom environment. If he doesn’t respect students, how is he going to understand what is best for students?”

During Term 2, the VicSRC has consulted with over 1,000 secondary school students from around Victoria at the VicSRC Regional Conferences; the priority issues identified by students were a positive school environment and strong student/teacher relationships. Student-teacher relationships play a powerful and important role in shaping a young person’s experience of school.

In the report Two Way Street: Young people informing Improvements to Schools and Youth Services published by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (2012), young people described greater levels of engagement with their education when they had the opportunity to form relationships with their teachers where they felt respected, supported and heard. When we support young people to develop positive relationships with their teachers, we see an increase in student’s engagement, their sense of wellbeing, and connectedness at school.

CEO of the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, Georgie Ferrari said "research shows when corporal punishment is used, students perform significantly worse. Young people that experience corporal punishment are more likely to have low academic results, mental health, wellbeing problems and face substance and alcohol abuse.”

Former secondary school teacher and coordinator of the VicSRC, Krista Seddon said “the best model of discipline is when open and honest communication exists between the student and teacher. It’s a two way street where mutual respect exists. When relationships are strong, even for the most difficult student, there isn’t need for excessive forms of discipline.”

Its gravely concerning that Kevin Donnelly, who will have a significant say in the future of Australians schools, is advocating for the use of corporal punishment which is outdated, based on violence, fear and compliance. Students value a model of discipline based on open communication and strong student-teacher relationships.


For further information contact:

Georgie Ferrari

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria

Ph. 0411 484 428

Krista Seddon

Victorian Student Representative Council

Ph. 9267 3744 or 0411 679 050

If you would like to speak to a secondary school student, please contact Krista.

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