Yup, you have rights. Plenty of them.
All young people have the right to a quality education in Queensland.
There are safe guards built into the education system to make sure no one is slipping through the cracks. If you need help at school – even if the thing you need help with isn’t school-related, if it’s making it hard for you to succeed at school – you can talk to someone and they can help find a solution.
- State schools should be inclusive for student needs, and will be able to make ‘reasonable’ changes to ensure student needs are met. (You might be surprised what they are able to do to help, if you just ask.)
- You have the right to be treated equally and with respect. (Remember that works two ways, the best way to get respect is to give it.)
- You have human rights too. If things outside of school are getting too much, or if you need some extra support, you can still talk to your school counsellor, support staff or another adult you trust. They might be able to help you find the support you need, and they can definitely try to help make school a supportive place, when they know your situation.
Support at school
State schools are able to make ‘reasonable’ changes to ensure the needs of students are met. If you feel that you need more support or something a bit different, talk to the school about what you’re struggling with and ask what options might be available.
For example, did you know your principal can decide to grant you two more semesters to graduate if you have completed over 26 semesters (that’s Prep-Yr 12)? That can come in really handy if, for example, you’ve just failed year 12 English.
If you need help, just ask.
Be cool about it
Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself – but try to stay calm. You’re more likely to get a better result that way. It can be hard, but if you are calm and respectful, you can have your opinion heard and not offend anyone or get into trouble while doing it. Blowing up and getting angry won’t help.
You have the right to be treated equally and with respect (remember that works two ways, and the best way to get respect is to give it first). Remember to be smart about knowing your rights too. Make sure you know what you want out of a situation and keep that in mind when you’re navigating options.
Don’t be dumb. You know the school rules, don’t turn up to ask for help and blow up in the teacher’s face. It just makes their job harder, because now they have to enforce the rules instead of focusing on how to help. Be clever about it and get the help you want.
It can be difficult to ask for options when you don’t know what they are, so getting some backup can be a good idea. Each region in Queensland has a Regional Youth Engagement Service (RYES), with staff who are there to help you to overcome any issues you’re having in school (just give them a call to get started). The RYES can also help you to get back into school if you have left early or been excluded. Keep in mind, there are more options than school, and there is more support than you might think.
Support outside of school
If things outside of school are getting too much, or if you need some extra support, you can still talk to your school counsellor, support staff or another adult you trust. They might be able to help you find the support you need, and they can definitely try to help make school a supportive place, when they know your situation.
Finally, if there’s something about your school environment that is holding you back, make sure you talk to the school (a year coordinator, support staff, teacher or even ask to see the principal – whoever you feel safe with).