December 1: School Governance weekly news wrap
Teacher hospitalised after being kicked in the back by a student
The Canberra Times reports on an incident at an early childhood school, where a teacher was hospitalised after a student kicked them in the back. The school’s interim principal commented that the child had complex needs, but that Worksafe investigators were fully satisfied safety was being maintained at the school. Last year there were 264 reported incidents of physical violence against school leaders in ACT schools, a rise of 26%. Australian Education Union ACT secretary Glenn Fowler said occupational violence was a “constant situation” which needed to be managed to maintain workers’ safety.
Queensland teaching disgrace: Thirty teachers barred from classrooms
The Courier-Mail reports that thirty teachers in Queensland have been barred from classrooms in 2016, most due to possession of sexually-explicit material involving children or other child sex-related offences. A number of the teachers were branded ‘excluded persons’ due to receiving jail time for convictions for serious offences. The Queensland College of Teachers, which has been given new powers to protect students, has received 177 notifications this year from employing authorities concerned with conduct and competence of teachers, 20 more than in 2015.
School p*rn ring: Students cautioned for sharing photos of naked girls
In a Herald Sun article, it was reported that four boys at a school in Melbourne distributed explicit images in an erotic content ring. The students were saving images of female students and sharing them, but it is unclear how they came to receive the photos in the first place. The school head distributed an email to parents stating that the incident was being taken very seriously, but would not comment on what discipline the students would receive. Cautions were given and no charges were laid, though one parent felt that they should have received a stronger punishment from Police.
Volunteer parents screened at Catholic schools for child safety risk
The Age reports that strict new child safety standards mean Catholic school Principals will be running extensive background checks on volunteer parents. Parents who offer to assist with camps, fetes, and canteen/library duties will be interviewed and must provide proof of their identity and qualifications, which will include a Working With Children Check. One Principal has stated that parents are willing to accept policy changes, but Judy Crowe, Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals president, has stated there are fears the changes would deter volunteers.
Grattan Institute presents ‘radical but achieveable’ plan to fix Australia’s school funding mess
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a new plan to fix school funding in Australia. The solution would see all schools receive appropriate funding by 2023 – over-funded schools will receive cuts, while disadvantaged schools will receive greater support. Mr Goss, Grattan Institute’s School Education Program Director, said that disadvantaged schools in the Catholic, independent and public sectors would benefit from redistribution. The report also calls for new high-level, higher salary teaching positions to be created to boost teacher quality.
100 education workers have had Police clearances lapse — and dozens are still working with children under supervision
The Advertiser has reported that many education staff in South Australia whose Police clearances lapsed were reassigned or allowed to work with children, with the Education Department stating that only 3 of 101 such staff were sent home as mandated by policy. However, a spokesperson later stated that no teachers were involved. UniSA child-protection expert Dr Elspeth McInnes said these statistics showed that action was necessary to implement the reforms recommended by the Nyland Royal Commission.
NSW Government pushes national minimum entry standard for teachers
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a warning by the NSW Government that NSW would receive an influx of less-qualified teachers from other states unless national minimum standards are adopted. In NSW, regulations were instituted forcing prospective teachers to finish in the top 30% of the state – an ATAR of about 75 – to enter teaching courses. Last week Victoria also adopted a minimum entry standard, an ATAR of 65, for students wanting to study teaching, in order to stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession and boost teacher quality.
UK: Teaching assistant who performed six sex acts on schoolboy on plane is jailed for two years
Perth Now reported on the jailing of a teaching assistant in the UK, after admitting to performing a number of sexual acts on a student while on a plane home from a school trip. It was also alleged that explicit messages were exchanged after returning to the UK. The teacher was forced to sign the sex offender’s register after pleading guilty to the incidents, which reportedly occurred after the teacher and student became close during the trip to South Africa. The incidents came to light after rumours circulating in the school were brought to Police attention.
UK: UK Government accused of knowingly sending children to ‘crook’ institutions in Australia
ABC News reported on allegations in a submission lodged to a UK inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse. According to a number of statements made by former students at Australian schools, the UK Government continued to send student migrants to Australian institutions despite knowing about mistreatment. A UK Home Office memo stated that 10 institutions “would need a complete metamorphosis” to receive children, but was never acted upon. The inquiry could prompt further legal action against the UK Government.
NZ: Education Ministry: Schools have scope to design their own climate change curriculum
Stuff National News published a reply from the New Zealand Education Ministry which stated that schools are able to design their own curriculum to incorporate teaching on climate change. In an opinion piece published in the previous week, it was alleged that New Zealand’s status as a world leader in education was in question due to its lack of integration on climate learning. But the Education Ministry has stated that the National Curriculum is underpinned by principles which include supporting students to have a focus on ecological sustainability and globalisation.