May 17: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Teacher faces court over charges of indecently dealing with students at Northern Territory school

According to the ABC News, a teacher accused of indecent dealings with four girls at a Northern Territory school considered himself “bulletproof” and “exploited his status” to develop inappropriate relationships with his young victims, the NT Supreme Court has heard. The man, who cannot be identified, is charged with eight counts of indecently dealing with children and one count of sexually assaulting a child over a period of three years between 2013 and 2016. The four girls were aged between 10 and 12 years old at the time.

NSW Premier announces curriculum overhaul to give core subjects more prominence

According to the Daily Telegraph, the NSW school curriculum will be stripped back to core values of English, maths and the sciences in a once-in-a-generation review to “declutter” the entire education system. Every subject from kindergarten to Year 12 will go under the microscope to ­remove what the State Government considers irrelevant content that has crept in over the past 30 years. The number of exams and tests will also be cut. The review, to be conducted by the CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research Geoff Masters, will be the first since 1989, the year the internet was launched. It is expected to take more than 18 months. Follow up article also in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Autistic boy beaten with spanner, kicked in gang attack outside Victorian Northcote High School

The Herald Sun has reported on autistic boy Quinn Lahiff-Jenkins who was set upon by five armed youths who pinned the 14-year-old to the ground and beat him in full view of passing motorists outside Northcote High School. The attack comes just a year after the boy entered the mainstream school system. Victoria Police is investigating the assault. Ms Lahiff-Jenkins said she will pursue criminal charges against her son’s attackers. Northcote High School and the Department of Education declined to comment due to the ongoing Police investigation.

‘Why would they believe a kid like me?’: Boys speak of Sydney teacher’s abuse

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a Sydney school teacher who has pleaded guilty to 33 offences, including persistent child sexual abuse, indecent assault and procuring a child for unlawful sexual activity committed largely between 2012 and 2015. Shane Andrew Matthews taught at Wattle Grove Public School, where most of the abuse occurred, and was later assistant principal at Woodlands Road Public School in Sydney’s south-west. The hearing is ongoing.

SA Parliament introduces new laws targeting predators who lie about their age online to children

SA has introduced the Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill 2018, which creates two new grooming offences targeting adults who lie about their age to get a child aged under 17 to meet with them. Firstly, it will now be an offence, with a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, for a person to communicate with a child and say that they are younger than they really are or that they are someone else and then meet or arrange to meet the child. Secondly, if a person communicates with a child and says that they are younger than they really are or that they are someone else and they also have the intention of committing a crime against a child, there will now be an offence punishable by a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. Dubbed Carly’s Law, The Advertiser says the State version differs from the Federal version passed last year by creating a new offence of lying about your age and arranging a meeting with a child, for which there is no equivalent in the Federal law.

School uniforms: what Australian schools can do to promote acceptance of gender diversity

An article in The Conversation argues that changes to school uniform should be encouraged to promote gender expression and gender fluidity among students. “The safety and well-being of young people should not be compromised. Responsible adults, especially leaders in our community such as principals and politicians, must have the courage to challenge negative attitudes toward gender diversity and support the needs of trans and gender diverse people. Relaxing the rules on school uniforms is a small but positive step in this direction.”

 

INTERNATIONAL

Children in the crosshairs: report sounds alarm over spike in attacks on schools internationally

According to a report by the CBC News, A global coalition of non-governmental organizations and human rights groups working to protect the rights of children is sounding the alarm over a dramatic increase in “deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on schools and universities, their students, and staff” over the last five years. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) reported more than 12,700 attacks from 2013 through 2017, harming more than 21,000 students and educators. Over the last five years, 41 countries suffered at least five attacks on education, including at least one that was intentional or deadly, according to the GCPEA report Education under Attack 2018. Interestingly, the United States (and their school shootings record) is excluded from these statistics.

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