Managing school disciplinary conflict

The recent situation involving students from Wellington College serves as yet another example of why alternative dispute resolution is needed in our schools. In response to media attention given to this subject, FairWay’s Senior Resolution Practitioner Denise Evans writes:

When things go wrong it is vitally important to have a process in place to deal with whatever challenge is presented. This morning on Radio NZ National, Patrick Walsh the past President of the Principal's Association talked about the difficulties for schools that arise when students do something out of school hours that impacts on the reputation of the school, or is a challenge to school’s values. He was referring to the recent situation involving boys from Wellington College.

He said that most principals faced with a similar situation would prefer that the school and parents work together rather than "lawyering up" and preparing for court action that impacts on all both, emotionally and financially.

These situations most often arise without warning and, as in any emergency, it is better to be prepared with a plan to "get through".

There is no doubt that boards and principals have access to excellent support through their professional associations and the New Zealand School Trustees Association. Since the demise of the Parent Advocacy Council however support for parents is less obvious and it is therefore to be expected that they will seek support from a lawyer which often necessary can be expensive.

FairWay Resolution Limited is an independent crown owned company* that has a team of specialised dispute resolution professionals who can assist principals boards of trustees and parents have conversations that need to happen quickly.

A copy of a recently published paper authored by Denise Evans, and relevant to this topic, can be found at

For more information contact us on 0800 77 44 22 or see our website


* Please note from July 2017 FairWay Resolution is an independent, employee-owned company.