June 6: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church signs up for national redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse, Salvation Army, Scouts, YMCA, Anglican Church also sign on to redress scheme

ABC News reported on the Catholic Church announcing that it would sign up for the national redress scheme proposed by the Commonwealth Government for victims of child sexual abuse. The church’s governing bodies, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia, wrote to the Government saying they were keen to participate “to limit future trauma for survivors of abuse in obtaining redress from the Church”, and have become the first non-government institution to opt in. Also according to the ABC News, Scouts Australia, the Salvation Army, YMCA Australia and the Anglican Church are all joining the national redress scheme for child abuse survivors. Social Services Minister, Mr Tehan, said the four institutions signing on brought the coverage of the national redress scheme to 80 per cent of survivors. The redress system was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission, and is due to start on 1 July 2018.

Student Suspension Data Released in WA

The Department of Education in a Media Release, announced that new figures show the number of students suspended from public schools in 2017 remained under five per cent of the entire public school population. Reasons for suspensions include damage to or theft of property, violation of a school’s code of conduct or school/classroom rules as well as physical aggression, and abuse of staff and other students. Deputy Director General, Schools, Stephen Baxter said just under five per cent of 300,000 students in WA’s public schools were suspended last year, similar to previous years. This is in direct opposition to a West Australian article which states that a record number of students were suspended from WA public schools last year for unacceptable behaviour including physical aggression and verbal abuse, figures reveal. Education Department data to be released today shows that 14,075 students were barred from school for an average of 2.2 days last year, up from 12,649 the previous year. The percentage of troublesome pupils who received suspension notices increased from 4.3 to 4.7 per cent. More than one-quarter of suspension notices, or 9339, were issued for physical aggression towards other students, down from 30 per cent in 2016.

‘It’s stressful being an other’: The mental health woes of international students

According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s article on international students, many international students report stress. They report social isolation. The very fact of being an international student in Australia – the experience of being alone in a new country, subject to financial pressures, navigating a new culture, and adjusting to a new academic system – is considered to make an individual at greater risk of mental ill-health. While the article addresses mainly tertiary institutions, many of these factors also affect international students in schools.

Meddling parents the key to schools’ success

An interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Lansvale Public School which encourages their students’ families to be as loud, opinionated and nosy as possible. Lansvale was one of five public schools identified as excelling in learning, teaching and leading in a new report from the NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. The others were Rooty Hill High, Sefton High, Taree West Public School and Woonona High. The centre looked at how schools performed against the state’s School Excellence Framework, chose the five that excelled in most of the 14 elements of “high-quality practice”, then examined what these schools were doing well. While each school was different, it found that all encouraged parental and student involvement in learning. They emphasised professional development for teachers, put effort into the transition to kindergarten or year seven, and had strong relationships with the community, universities and other schools.

Kindergarten teacher not guilty of indecently cupping 4yo boy’s genitals in childcare centre

According to ABC News, a jury has found a kindergarten teacher in far north Queensland not guilty of inappropriately touching a four-year-old boy in his care at a day care centre. The 26-year-old man was accused of cupping the genitals of the boy while helping him change out of wet clothes. After about 90 minutes of deliberation, a District Court jury in Cairns found the man — who cannot be named for legal reasons — not guilty of indecent treatment of a child under 12 in his care.

 

INTERNATIONAL

South Africa outrage over ‘naked’ school choir performance

According to Radio NZ, a “naked” choir performance by a group of South African schoolgirls has led to calls for investigation by the country’s education minister. Angie Motshekga said she was “extremely disappointed” after seeing footage of the Xhosa girls performing wearing only a small apron, known as an “inkciyo”. The basic education minister said it was an “indignity [which] goes against the values of our cultures”. According to South Africa’s Daily Dispatch website, the unnamed teacher said: “We are proud of our Xhosa tradition. We are proud of ‘inkciyo’. We are proud of Xhosa women and girls.” The Xhosa are South Africa’s second-largest ethnic group.

Son’s braid cut at Canadian Calgary school: Indigenous mother hopes for teaching moment

The CBC News reported that an 11 year old student at a Calgary school has had his ritual religious braid cut during his first day at school. The parent has declined to name the school, but said the Calgary Board of Education has been receptive to her concerns. An Indigenous liaison was at school with the student for the remainder of the week. The parent has said that made him feel safer and more confident.

Women abused by ex-national Canadian ski coach want better safeguards to protect young athletes

According to the CBC News, four women have come forward, accusing Bertrand Charest, a former ski coach, who is convicted of abusing them when they were young competitive skiers in the 1990s. Charest is serving a 12-year sentence after being convicted in June 2017 of 37 charges, including sexual assault and sexual exploitation, for offences dating back to the 1990s involving nine victims. The victims, between the ages of 12 and 19 at the time of the offences, were all competitive skiers he coached. They are calling for a cross-federation commitment to athlete safety and funding for an accredited program that would include training, new policies and procedures as well as establishment of new independent safety officers. They want to see the government make the implementation of safety programs a requirement for funding for sports federations.

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