The number of student disciplinary cases for violence, abuse and dangerous behaviour has fallen sharply in the past two years in Waitaki schools and local education leaders say the figures reflect a move towards more restorative practices.
Education Ministry figures released under the Official Information Act show 42 disciplinary cases occurred for violent and dangerous behaviour offences in the year to October 16, or more than 60 per cent less than last year's total of 110.
Figures relate to schools in Oamaru and Waimate.
St Kevin's College principal, Paul Olsen, said St Kevin's traditionally did not have a lot of stand-downs, which could be credited to a more restorative approach to discipline.
It would take a major event to warrant a stand-down.
"What we try to do these days is find out what's gone wrong, how it's gone wrong and how we can put it right," he said.
Mr Olsen said it was important the community understood the work that was happening in Waitaki schools to lower the figures.
"It's not about taking a soft option, the way that they have been resolved that has changed," he said.
"I'm not convinced that the number of incidents has changed, but rather the treatment."
Students were being held accountable for their actions. "I see them learning a life lesson," Mr Olsen said.
Waitaki Girls' High School principal Tracy Walker said she saw much of the same happening at the all-girls' school.
"We're trying a more restorative pathway, it's not just about punishment," she said.
Ms Walker said, in her five months at the school, she had seen results.
"We're sending the message that this is who we are and this is what we stand for," she said.
The school was looking at joining the Positive Behaviour for Learning programme to promote positive behaviour.
Waitaki Boys' High School rector Paul Jackson did not respond to requests for comment.
Nationally, violent and harmful behaviour offences accounted for more than half of all stand-downs, suspensions and permanent dismissals from primary and secondary schools this year.
Of the 17,558 disciplinary cases, nearly 9000 were for violence, abuse, dangerous behaviour or weapons offences.
New Zealand Principals' Federation president Paul Drummond said removing pupils from school was a last resort.
Many schools had introduced programmes aimed at promoting positive learning and discouraging anti-social behaviour.
Student disciplinary cases for violence and dangerous behaviour have dropped significantly, down 30 per cent since 2009.
But the decline may not correlate to less violence in schools, Mr Drummond cautioned.
"Schools have put a lot of resources into managing serious behaviour and whether or not that's reflective of a decrease in anti-social behaviour outside the school gate, I just don't know," he said.
"There are still obviously instances of serious misconduct that are challenging to manage."