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School principal deemed too rough
The West Australian Steve Lockwood. Supplied picture

The principal of a primary school that has won praise for its behaviour management programs has been stood down over allegations he handled students too roughly while restraining them.

The Education Department yesterday confirmed that Nollamara Primary School principal Steve Lockwood had been removed from the school pending an investigation into complaints that allege the "unreasonable use of force" to restrain students.

Professional standards and conduct executive director Eamon Ryan said the department had received the complaints recently, but would not say how many.

They related to incidents between late 2011 and early this year.

Mr Ryan said the decision to remove Mr Lockwood from the school had been made under Section 240 of the Schools Education Act.

The Act says an employee should be barred from school premises if they present a risk to the safety or welfare of students.

"I expect the highest standards of conduct from all teachers and school staff and this is why we take swift and decisive action to ensure student safety," he said.

"However, it is important to remember that these are allegations at this point and therefore no further comment will be made while the investigation is taking its course."

A letter sent to parents two weeks ago said an acting principal would take Mr Lockwood's place when term two started next week and was likely to remain for the whole term.

Mr Lockwood has been in charge of Nollamara, which includes an intensive English centre, for the past eight years.

Nollamara featured in two editions of the department's magazine School Matters because of the school's success in controlling difficult students, many of them refugees from war-torn countries.

The articles were written and published before the complaints were received.

School Matters quoted Mr Lockwood last year saying he was shocked by students' behaviour when he arrived in 2004.

"Many of the children were extremely difficult and I actually thought to myself 'this school feels dangerous'," he said.

Department guidelines say teachers should only use physical restraint if other methods fail and there is a risk a student will harm others or damage property.