Skip to Content

What Is A Referral In School?

Education is an important part of life, regardless of whether we enjoy it.

School years can be a challenging time for many kids, hormones are flying everywhere, there is a lot to learn, and the pressures of growing up and becoming more independent are evident.

What Is A Referral In School

It is not uncommon for many kids to act out in school, no matter how old they are.

The majority of schools have a disciplinary process called a referral that is used to deal with students causing problems in and out of class.

This article will discuss what is meant by a referral in school and what this means for the student who has received one.

What Is A Referral?

Typically, a referral is a last-resort disciplinary action taken by a student’s teacher in order to report their behavior to the appropriate school officials.

If this sounds serious, that’s because it is. Each school will have its own referral process and protocol for teachers to follow.

This step is usually taken by a teacher that has already tried to discipline the student and the student has ignored the chances to change their behavior.

As a result, the punishment will be up to a senior member of staff such as the principal or vice principal.

Classroom Managed Violations

There should be a clear definition between the classroom and office-managed situations in each school. These parameters should be set out by those in charge of disciplinary action.

To handle these situations, teachers may take softer actions such as removing privileges or giving the student detention.

Situations and circumstances that are to be handled in the classroom include things such as:

  • Refusing to work
  • Being unprepared
  • Turning up late
  • Sleeping
  • Checking your phone in class or using any other digital devices
  • Littering
  • Small class disturbances
  • Pushing and running in the halls
  • Lunchroom misconduct
  • cheating/plagiarizing work

What Behaviors Lead To A Referral?

As each case is different, teachers are generally advised to use their own intuition on what behaviors receive a referral.

However, more serious and alarming behaviors from students are the usual cause of an automatic referral.

What Is A Referral In School bullying (1)

The major discipline referral categories include:

  • Bullying other students
  • Drug abuse
  • Violence
  • Possession of a weapon
  • Stealing
  • Sexual assault
  • Classroom disruption
  • Leaving the classroom without permission
  • Offensive language or gestures
  • Alcohol abuse

In most schools, there is a long line of procedures and steps taken to try and discourage bad behavior from students before they are given a referral.

This will usually involve positive reinforcement, involvement of the parents, and one-on-one chats with the student.

What Happens When You Get A Referral?

School administrators are the ones in charge of making a final decision on what is to be done with a misbehaving student.

They will respond however they see fit depending on the frequency, intensity, and duration of the offense to avoid it from happening again.

Actions taken from this could include exclusion from school for a certain time period and in most serious cases complete expulsion from school altogether.

These actions are a predictor of a student’s risk of dropping out completely, so they may not have the desired impact.

Are Referrals The Same For All Students?

Disciplinary referrals will be different between schools and among elementary, middle, and high school students.

Depending on the age of the child and the severity of the situation, the type of punishment they receive will change.

As kids grow, they are expected to mature and take responsibility for their own actions as well as control their behaviors.

As a result, their punishments are usually more severe as they are expected to ‘know better’.

Are There Other Kinds Of Referrals?

Yes, there are other types of referrals that do not relate to bad behavior. These referrals are related to a student that may need extra help with their learning.

Teachers should be trained in a way in which they are able to recognize a student that may need extra help.

Although they may not be qualified to help in this way, they can play a major role in helping the student obtain that help.

Teachers and parents can write these referrals with attached evidence to demonstrate why they believe the student should be evaluated.

Special educational needs can be met either in school with certain government funding if the school is eligible, or the student may have to go elsewhere.

Who Can Be Referred?

It is not just those with special educational needs that can be referred to a pupil referral unit (PRU). It could also be due to one of the following situations:

  • Behavior reasons
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Those experiencing extreme bullying
  • Those suffering from a long or short-term illness
  • Students who have missed a significant amount of school for a valid reason

In PRU schools, students will receive extra care and attention that cannot be provided by the mainstream school.

They may spend all their time at this unit or they may split their time between the unit and the mainstream school depending on their needs.

What To Do If You’ve Received A Behavioural Referral

If you (or your child) have received a referral, it’s because you have behaved in an unacceptable way and have posed a risk to the school, the other students, or the teachers.

This will often result in a form being sent to your parents which they must sign and return.

Some schools will put this referral on your permanent record and potentially impact your college applications.

Depending on the severity of the offense, the referral may or may not appear on your transcript or any other college forms. This is also dependent on your school.

The Bottom Line

When a student receives a referral in school, it means they have behaved in such a way that their teacher believes they need the harshest punishment.

This punishment will be decided by school administrators such as the principal or vice principal.

We hope you found this article helpful!

Simon Lewis

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *