September 13: School Governance Weekly Wrap


New advocate for Western Australian high school principals sends a clear message to badly behaved parents

ABC News has reported that the new spokesman for WA’s public high school principals has a simple message for parents behaving badly at schools “Stop treating schools like they’re the enemy and start working with them.” Armando Giglia is the new president of the WA Secondary School Executives Association (WASSEA), which represents principals and deputies at the state’s 166 public high schools. In his first comments in the role, the teacher of almost 40 years has taken aim at pushy and disrespectful parents, claiming some see schools as an easy target and often spoil for a fight. Mr Giglia said that while 95 per cent of parents did the right thing, the remaining 5 per cent had become a significant problem for school leaders, putting them under unnecessary strain. Mr Giglia said that while this group of troublesome parents was happy to “argue the toss on anything”, they mostly complained about their children’s results, homework and the meting out of punishment.

New South Wales female teacher’s aide sobs and says sorry after getting suspended jail term for child sex grooming

According to ABC News, a Hunter Valley teacher’s aide has sobbed while being given a 12-month suspended jail sentence for grooming a teenage boy for sex. Jackie Mary Hays, 51, pleaded guilty to grooming a 15-year-old boy for unlawful sexual activity in 2015. Ms Hays was a teacher’s aide and partially blamed a weight-loss drug and unhappy marriage for her offending, which involved lewd text messages. In sentencing Hays to a 12-month suspended jail term, Mr Stone said while she had shown remorse, general deterrence was needed.

Bullying on the rise in Prep, Year 1 classrooms as suspended, expelled students double over four years

ABC News has reported that the number of Queensland Prep students being suspended or expelled has almost doubled in four years, with experts and parents warning the problem of schoolyard bullying is exploding among the state’s youngest students. Since 2013, more than 4,300 children have been suspended or excluded from Prep and almost 9,000 have been forced to go home while in Year 1. Last year alone, 1,027 Prep students and almost 2,000 Year 1 pupils have had to leave school for bad behaviour, which includes physical violence. Despite the community focus, particularly after the tragedy of teenager Dolly Everett taking her own life this year, experts say the situation is not improving. Queensland Teacher’s Union president Kevin Bates said there was “no doubt” teachers were facing more violence and misbehaviour than they did 30 years ago. He said the brutality of bullying shouldn’t surprise people because children were learning it from the society that surrounds them.

More support for children living with type 1 diabetes

The Victorian Government in a Media Release has announced that they will invest $6 million to better support children living with diabetes, with the launch of a new program across Australian schools. The Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools program will support around 6,000 children living with the condition by providing a training and education program for teachers about the management of children with type 1 diabetes. Teachers and school staff will be trained in insulin administration, recognition of hypoglycaemia and normalising diabetes management in schools.

Teacher made child pornography at school swimming carnival

The Townsville Bulletin reported that a Townsville teacher charged with child pornography offences used a mobile phone app to take secret photos of students at a swim carnival. Former Pimlico State High School teacher Bevan Allan Stephens, 42, was sentenced in the Townsville District Court for possessing child pornography as well as taking covert photos of students using a mobile phone app known as Spy Photo. He pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to access child-exploitation material, making child-exploitation material and eight counts of possessing child-exploitation material. Stephens had taken 122 secret photos of students in swimwear at a school swimming carnival, including 38 close-up shots of students’ backsides and pubic regions. He will be able to apply for parole after serving 20 months.

Asbestos found at another Canberra school

According to The Canberra Times, the Australian Capital Territory chief health officer has said that asbestos found at Harrison School, a public school in the territory’s north, last week poses a low risk to families, amid revelations more non-friable material had been found at a second school a few hundred metres away. Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School principal Peter Hughes confirmed the new discovery on Friday morning, and said the school’s architect was now going back through the original building specifications to track where the material might have come from. Both schools remain open, with garden beds in the Mother Teresa car park fenced off and every garden bed on Harrison School grounds also inaccessible. Based on assessments of the material as non-friable provided by the education directorate including reports of children playing in the garden beds, Dr Kelly considered the asbestos presented a low immediate risk.

Police called in as school scraps Montessori program

The Age has reported that dramatic scenes unfolded at Kingston Heath Primary School in Cheltenham, Victoria, on Friday after Montessori Australia Foundation called in the police to prevent families taking off with classroom materials, including wooden beads, counting blocks and shelving, on the final day of the short-lived program. This followed 17 families demanding that the organisation refund them the $1700 they had paid for these materials. They paid a further $950 in registration and program fees. A parent said police helped parents negotiate with the school so that they could enter the classroom, collect their children and pack up their schoolwork. The roll-out of the program has been plagued with issues and raised questions about the Education Department’s oversight of third-party programs in state schools. Families have been left in limbo following its termination. Parents blame the saga on a lack of leadership at the school, which has had five principals in two years.


College in Auckland defends itself against claims of a bullying culture, after shocking video shows students fighting in front of a crowd

According to TV NZ, an Auckland college is defending itself against claims of a culture of bullying, after shocking video was released on social media that led to police investigations. A concerned parent said her child was bullied after refusing to take part in another fight at Whangaparaoa College and is calling for more support, “It says something to me about what’s going on at the school culture, the culture needs to change.” Principal of Whangaparaoa College James Thomas says he took immediate action after the fight came to light, and insists it’s a one off. Anti-bullying campaigner Karla Sanders says one in four kids are bullied at school, in a News Now article. The Ministry of Education says rates of bullying in New Zealand schools are higher than most other countries. It says bullying is not a simple problem with a simple solution, and all parts of a school community must work together to try and address it.

Schools putting real ‘play’ back into playgrounds

According to The Globe and Mail, in an era when so many parents seem to be filling every free minute of their child’s day with organized activities, sports teams, music lessons or tutoring, a growing number of educators across the country are embracing the idea of putting unstructured play back into school playgrounds. Raktim Mitra, an associate professor in the school of urban and regional planning at Ryerson University, said research has shown that engaging in creative and spontaneous play is important for the physical and mental well-being of children. “The idea is that when your free time is more creative and more imaginative, then you can concentrate more on the structured elements of your day,” he said. Prof. Mitra and his colleagues have been evaluating how students fare at Chester and a handful of other Toronto schools that signed up to participate in a pilot project funded by Earth Day Canada. The charity is the only organisation in Canada licensed to deliver the Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) program, developed in Britain. It pushes to bring back unstructured play and encourage children to use all sorts of “loose parts” – spares tires, ropes, sticks, logs and other castoffs – to build whatever comes into their heads. The program has expanded to 25 Toronto-area schools this year.

Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States Take On Catholic Church

The New York Times has reported that Attorneys-General across the United States are taking a newly-aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents. On a single day, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation. The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamouring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.

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