April 5: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Queensland principal struck off for taking students on excursions, making them do chores

News.com.au reported about a principal in a regional QLD school who has been struck off in a QCAT decision for organising a sleepover with year seven students at his home after they did his yard and housework. The male principal, who was working at a regional school at the time, also took students on excursions without permission, drove them to another town to mow his wife’s lawn, and allowed unlicensed students to drive his car. He also took children fishing on weekends, paid for them to take a helicopter ride without permission, took them to a fete and bought them dinner. His registration has been cancelled for 4 ½ years.

NSW government introducing new child abuse laws in response to Royal Commission

In a Media Release announcement, the NSW Government has responded to the Royal Commission recommendations with new legislation including legislating a maximum life sentence for a strengthened offence of persistent child sexual abuse; introducing new offences for failure to report and failure to protect against child abuse; requiring courts sentencing historic child sexual assault offences to apply current sentencing standards and the present understanding about the lifelong effects of sexual abuse on children; requiring courts not to take into account an offender’s good character when sentencing for historic offences where their reputation facilitated the offending; and introducing a new offence of grooming an adult to access a child and strengthening the grooming offence to include providing a child with gifts or money. Legislation implementing these changes will be introduced to the NSW Parliament in the coming months. However, 9 News has reported that the Premier is cherry picking from the Royal Commission’s recommendations and hasn’t been tough enough to stand up to religious institutions.

Working with children checks granted to sex offenders and criminals through VCAT challenges

The ABC News reported on VCAT Appeals in the last 5 years which have resulted in rejections for over a dozen people for Working with Children Checks being overturned. Decisions to overturn are based on legal tests like whether a “reasonable person” would let their child have direct contact with the person in a working context, whether the applicant poses an “unjustifiable” risk to children, and whether a check is in the public interest. VCAT also considers how serious the crime was, how long it has been since the offence and how it relates to child related work. The article has also stated that the standard does not meet community expectations.

Union says there is ‘no way’ teachers would have stopped alleged serious assault at WA Busselton school

Perth Now reports that the Union has now stepped in saying that teachers were powerless to stop the attack at Busselton Senior High School last week. The Union representative said in recent years there had been many cases where teachers had been investigated or disciplined for attempting to restrain violent students, and teachers who tried to stop fights had also been subject to “false and vexatious” allegations by some students and their parents. The union has advised teachers not to put themselves or their careers at risk by using force with students.

Atwell College brawl: Parents ‘disgusted’ as teachers fail to intervene in WA schoolyard fight

9News.com.au reported that video of a brawl at Atwell College shows two teenage boys repeatedly punching each other as two teachers look on. The father of one student said he couldn’t believe teachers stood by as the classmates traded blows. The Teacher’s Union defended the teachers saying teachers are not expected to intervene in physical fights because they could face the possibility of criminal assault charges from parents, or integrity action from the state’s Department of Education.

Unsupported teachers ‘slipping through the cracks’

According to Education HQ, a new study run by QUT on the teaching profession nationally shows that early career teachers in Australia in casual or temporary employment are more likely to miss out on receiving professional support, leading to lower work satisfaction and a higher likelihood of leaving the profession. The study considered five kinds of support for beginning teachers: mentoring programs, orientation programs, structured opportunity for reflection, reduction in workload, and follow-up from their place of study.

 

INTERNATIONAL

Risky playgrounds build resilient children, say childhood educators in New Zealand

According to Stuff NZ, childhood experts have said that many children are not being challenged enough in playgrounds because of adults’ safety concerns which they claim can have a crippling effect on crucial life lessons, such as resilience and respect. East Harbour Kindergarten in Eastbourne, near Wellington, has embraced an ethos around using nature’s resources for learning – children use real tools at a carpentry table, climb trees, and build obstacle courses. The principal has said, “Risk is just such an important part of children’s learning through trial and error and problem solving,” and “There’s a difference between hazards and risks.”

France is lowering the age children start school from six to three

SBS News has reported that France is lowering the starting age for school from six to three with Mr Macron said the change will help families in poorer areas in France and overseas territories send their children to school earlier, which will in turn reduce inequality in education. The World Education Blog has also done a follow up article which highlighted the importance of early childhood education to success in later schooling.

Pope Francis will not apologise for Catholic Church’s role in residential school abuses in Canada

According to the Canada Press, a papal apology was one of the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada and during a visit to the Vatican last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally asked the Pope to consider such a gesture. The Star.com also said that the commission recommended an apology similar to that offered by the Pope to Irish victims of sexual abuse in 2010. In 2015, Pope Francis issued an apology in Bolivia to Indigenous peoples in the Americas for the “grave sins” of colonialism. Canada apologized for the schools in 2008, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was born out of a negotiated settlement agreement that included compensation for survivors.

Study estimates economic costs of child sexual abuse in the United States

The US News reported that researchers in the United States have measured the economic costs of child sexual abuse by calculating health care costs, productivity losses, child welfare costs, violence/crime costs, special education costs and suicide death costs. They estimated the total lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States to be $9.3 billion, based on child sexual abuse data from 2015. For non-fatal cases of child sexual abuse, the estimated lifetime cost is $282,734 per female victim.

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