April 3: School Governance weekly news wrap

An overview of some of the key school governance-related news from Australia and around the world.

Australia

Victorian drama teacher faces deregistration after ‘bejesus’ and ‘go to hell’ comments

A Catholic drama teacher has been accused of serious misconduct after refusing to remove the word “bejesus” from a play, according to The Age newspaper. The teacher appeared at former hearing at the Victorian Institute of Teaching where the panel heard the teacher’s formal colleagues describe his behaviour as belligerent, unreasonable and narcissistic. The panel also heard the teacher had a heated email exchange with a parent who raised concerns about the word “bejesus” in the play. The teacher also allegedly described another staff member in an email as an “evil human being” and told him to “go to hell”.

Banned SA teacher has school tutor franchise closed

The Adelaide Advertiser has reported that a former teacher sacked for “improper conduct” with a 12-year-old student has had his private tutoring franchise in Victor Harbor closed. The tutoring business taught “literacy and numeracy” to dozens of children, the paper said. Kip McGrath Education Centres Australia, which cancelled the franchise after the ex-teacher was exposed on Nine News, said: “A police check … at the time he applied to operate the Victor Harbor franchise more than five years ago revealed no criminal wrongdoing.” However, he was not flagged by the “working with children” database according to the paper.

OSHC worker sacked over child pornography

The Advertiser has reported that an after-school care worker at an unnamed Adelaide private school has been sacked after being charged with possessing child pornography. The principal of the school, which cannot be identified, told paper that the man, 20, had been “immediately dismissed’’ last week and a letter explaining the reason was sent to parents. The man was employed by Camp Australia, which said he had the required police clearances and was never alone with children. “This person was never left unsupervised with children and there is no suggestion of inappropriate behaviour at work,’’ she said.

Qld independent school enrolment growth slows 

The Courier Mail has reported that independent schools in Queensland have posted their slowest student growth rate in more than a decade. Citing preliminary February census data, the paper reported that state schools had reported a 1.8% lift in enrolments for 2014, while independent schools saw their enrolments grow 1.4%. This was the lowest growth rate for independent schools since 2002.

Independent school expels students over cannabis-related incident

Up to eight students from a Sydney’s Trinity Grammar School were asked to leave the school late last year following an incident involving cannabis on school grounds, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “The matter was reported to police and a record made, however, there was insufficient evidence to warrant a continuing investigation,” a NSW Police spokesman said.

 

International

Researchers find schools need to have comprehensive programs against bullying

Gay and overweight students tend to be bullied significantly more than other students, according to a paper published by two university professors who have warned schools require a substantial resources to combat bullying. “Band-Aid solutions, such as holding one assembly a year that discourages bullying, do not work,” said Jaana Juvonen, a University of California Los Angeles professor of psychology, in a statement. “Starting in elementary school, kids with characteristics that make them stand out are much more likely to get bullied,” said Juvonen. “They are prime targets for bullies because they are more likely to be friendless, and when they have nobody to defend them, the bullying often escalates.” The two professors analysed more than 140 studies conducted in the US, Australia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

UK head teacher criticised by govt inspectors for creating culture of ‘fear, intimidation and bullying’ 

The Bristol Post has reported that the head teacher of a high school in Bath is under pressure to resign after a highly critical report of her from the body for inspecting schools Ofsted was leaked. “The head teacher’s leadership style intimidates staff, resulting in a climate of fear which pervades the school,” said the Ofsted report.

“Despite very effective teaching, threats and bullying are commonplace, with many staff working in fear of losing their job. The head teacher’s leadership does not model the high quality professional standards expected.” The head teacher is now on sick leave.

A South African student beaten with belt by teacher dies

The Johannesburg paper The Star has reported that a Grade 10 student has died in hospital a week after he was allegedly hit by a teacher with a belt. “My boy was deaf just before he died. He couldn’t even hear or see us when we spoke with him at his bedside. His left eye was swollen and wide open. He couldn’t even blink the eye. The last time I saw him, hours before he died, he had blood clots coming out through his mouth and nose,” said the student’s mother.

Band teacher put on leave for taping student’s legs to chair

A high school teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave after allegedly duct-taping a student’s ankles to her chair in order to correct her posture while playing her instrument, according to a report in Monroe News.

 

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