April 12: School Governance Weekly Wrap


Australian Privacy Commissioner opens investigation into Facebook

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Australia’s Privacy Commissioner has launched an investigation into Facebook after the social media giant revealed that the data of 311,000 Australians may have been “improperly shared” with data science firm Cambridge Analytica. Federal MPs are holding off from any further action – such as a parliamentary inquiry similar to those occurring in Britain and the US – until the Privacy Commissioner and a separate Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry have finished their work.

For-profit education sector about to get a shakeup

The Financial Review has reported that the Australian education sector is set to be the subject of a wave of consolidation led by private-equity looking to tap into its high-margins and predictable cashflow. The company says it is interested in early learning, Vocational Education and Training, and private technical education, in particular with inbound international students.

Ransomware still a top threat for schools

The Educator (Australia) has reported that according to the Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, released this week, ransomware attacks have doubled since 2017, and education was reported as one of the top sectors within social breaches. The report found that social engineering (deceiving individuals into divulging personal information) is high, which is then used for identity fraud. Highly sensitive research is also at risk, with 20% of attacks motivated by espionage.

Cairns teen charged for using Snapchat to repeatedly ‘threaten’ another girl

According to the ABC News, a 13-year-old far north Queensland girl has been charged with stalking and using a carriage service to threaten violence after allegedly using the Snapchat mobile app to cyberbully another teenager. Michelle Murray from advocacy group Bully Zero Australia said she believed the 13-year-old was the youngest person in Australia to be charged with a criminal offence related to cyberbullying. She said because Snapchat messages expired after being viewed, it was often difficult to gather evidence of cyberbullying. Senior Constable Moran, from QLD Police, said children as young as 10 could be charged with criminal offences for cyberbullying and that while stalking, threatening or harassing through social media or text message might seem harmless to the perpetrator, it could have dire consequences.

Number of teachers fired from NSW public schools on the rise

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported on a new study of teachers that shows they are being dismissed for being inefficient at their job at nearly three times the rate of previous years, and sexual misconduct remains one of the top reasons teachers are sacked. A total of 57 teachers, including 16 casual teachers, were dismissed in 2017, which is nearly double the 32 dismissals in 2008.

Victorian Principal rebels against school system, gets results

Education HQ has reported on a Melbourne school, Templestowe College – a school with no year levels, no set subjects and which offers no guarantee on how long it will take each child to graduate. Staff have banded together to forge a new direction for the school, hinged on a personalised learning mode. The principal commented, “All the behaviour issues, they all just went out the window because everyone was a volunteer in the classroom; everyone had chosen to be in the class, everyone was engaged in their work…Those who were finding the work difficult were moving at their pace, and those that were able to really extend their skills and knowledge were able to do so.”

Victorian child data bill is passed

According to Innovation Australia, new legislation providing a framework for the sharing of confidential information regarding children has been passed by the Victorian parliament, despite concerns it may “erode the rights of already vulnerable children”. The Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing Bill) 2017 establishes the framework for professionals across a range of organisations, including child protection workers, teachers and health professionals, to share information about children in order to promote their safety. The controversy around the new rules illustrates the difficulties in balancing the privacy rights and data security of individuals versus the need for authorities and relevant bodies to access information to assist individuals and protect children. The State Government has argued that the need to protect children and keep them safe supersedes their right to digital privacy.

QLD after-school carer investigated

News.com.au has reported that an-after school carer has been stood down following allegations they bruised a child after pulling them roughly from a slide at a south-east Queensland centre. Queensland Police confirmed they are investigating the incident that allegedly happened on March 13 at an Ipswich educational facility, where the after-hours care was being run by Camp Australia. In a follow up article from the Courier Mail, Camp Australia has also terminated its contract with the school effective from April 20.


Parent concern over NZ primary schools’ use of Twitter in classrooms

According to the NZ Herald, Twitter is being used as a teaching tool at primary schools across the country but some parents are concerned about the appropriateness for children.  The social media platform is currently being used by Year 5 and 6 classes at more than 200 schools as part of a literacy initiative called Chapter Chat. Participating classes read the same book and post comments and pictures on their class Twitter account. Other classes following the accounts can see and comment on what’s posted online. However parents are concerned about the implications for their children and lack of consultation including privacy and cyber bullying.

Vatican arrests former diplomat after child pornography inquiry

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Vatican said on Saturday its Police had arrested a monsignor who worked as a diplomat at its embassy in Washington and is suspected of possessing child pornography in the United States and Canada. The monsignor was arrested according to articles of a 2013 law signed by Pope Francis. The articles cited by the statement related to child pornography. If indicted, the monsignor will have to stand trial in the Vatican and faces up to 12 years in jail.

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