May 3: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Cardinal George Pell committed to stand trial for historical child sexual abuse offences

According to various media sources, Magistrate Belinda Wallington has ruled there is enough evidence to commit Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric to stand trial on about half of the offences he was charged with. The Australian cardinal is set to become the highest-ranking figure in the history of the Catholic Church to ever stand trial on criminal charges for historical child sexual abuse.

NT to Opt In to National Redress Scheme

According to a NT Media Release, the Territory Government will opt in to the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. Chief Minister Michael Gunner has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull advising that the Northern Territory will join the new national scheme. The National Redress Scheme is due to start on 1 July 2018, and will run for 10 years, subject to the passage of legislation. Initial estimates are that there are more than 1,000 survivors who may be eligible for the National Redress Scheme in the Northern Territory.

QLD to Opt In to National Redress Scheme

According to a QLD media release, QLD will join the other States/Territories and opt in to the National Redress Scheme which was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Premier called on institutions run by non-government organisations to follow suit. 10,000 Queenslanders are expected to be eligible: 5,000 abused in government institutions and another 5,000 in non-government institutions. Survivors compensated under the $100 million 1999 Forde Inquiry can be further compensated under the national scheme.

Gonski report recommends moving away from mass learning to tailored education

ABC News reported that the central recommendation of a wide-ranging report by businessman David Gonski and a panel of experts commissioned by the Federal Government is that Australia must urgently modernise its industrial era model of school education and move towards individualised learning for all students. The report says too many Australian children are failing to reach their potential at school because of the restrictive nature of year-level progression. It calls for the implementation across states of a new online assessment tool that teachers would use to diagnose the exact level of literacy and numeracy a child has achieved. Teachers could then create individual learning plans for students that would not be tied to what year group they are in. Other key recommendations included setting up a national inquiry to review curriculum and assessment in years 11 and 12; Establishing a national educational research institute; Implementing greater principal autonomy; Providing more rewards for high-performing teachers; Overhauling the current A-E grading scale to instead measure progression gains; and Introducing a “unique student identifier” for all students that allows progress to be tracked across time, even if a student changes schools or moves interstate.

Former Church of England Boys’ Society leader Warwick Stevenson on historic child abuse charges

According to the Illawarra Mercury, Warwick Stevenson, now 64, has been accused of historic sexual abuse of five boys when he and another leader ran an Illawarra branch of the Scouts-style Church of England Boys’ Society in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Victoria. The society was established by the Anglican Church in Victoria in 1914 to focus on the spiritual, social and physical development of its members, who were aged between 6 and 16. Five former members of the Illawarra club, now aged in their 50s, have claimed Stevenson sexually molested them as children under the guise of teaching them First Aid training.

Parents say immunisation rates a major factor in choosing a school

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, a new survey of more than 2000 parents conducted by finder.com.au found that one in three said they “wouldn’t send their child to the perfect school if it had a low vaccination rate”. Since the beginning of this year, children are required to be fully vaccinated to enrol in a preschool or child care centre in NSW, unless they have a medical exemption or are on a recognised catch-up schedule. However, children who are not fully vaccinated are still able to attend NSW primary and high schools but under changes to NSW Health policy, they can be excluded from school if they come into contact with someone who has a vaccine preventable disease as well as during an outbreak.

INTERNATIONAL

Children killed in knife attack at Chinese middle school

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, a man wielding a knife killed nine children and injured 10 others outside a middle school in central China, authorities said, in one of the worst attacks at a Chinese school in recent years. The incident took place shortly after 6pm, officials said, as students were being dismissed at the Mizhi County No. 3 Middle School in Shaanxi province, about 800 km southwest of Beijing. Police said that the man was a graduate of the middle school and that he had told police he was seeking revenge because he had been bullied during his time there.

Principal suspends teacher’s aide without pay for ‘professional misconduct’ after yawning

In an article on News.com.au, it was reported that a principal in Brooklyn (United States) has suspended a teacher’s aide for five days without pay after being caught yawning during a staff meeting. In a disciplinary letter, the principal told the worker, “You yawned loud enough for me to hear you while I was walking down the hallway,” outside a staff meeting. The principal has slapped teachers with more than 30 disciplinary letters since she started 9 months ago at the school.

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