November 1: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Adelaide to Host World Leading Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect

According to a South Australian Premier’s Media Release, the SA Government has won a bid to host a world leading congress, with more than 1000 international experts set to converge on Adelaide in late 2020 to discuss new and innovative ways to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) International Congress will bring together Australian and international experts to share ways to help treat and prevent child abuse. The event will be led by the Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD), as well as the Department for Child Protection, and non-government partners. Further information about ISPCAN is at https://www.ispcan.org/.

Plumpton High School Students get Blood Tests after being Injured with Needle

According to ABC News, several western Sydney high school students have been injured with a hypodermic needle that NSW Ambulance says a fellow student found at a bus stop. Two Plumpton High School students were taken to Mt Druitt Hospital, while several others have been sent to medical centres with their parents to undergo urgent blood tests. Another ABC News article has claimed that a teenage boy is facing criminal charges after he allegedly pricked eight students at the high school with a syringe. The teenagers received puncture wounds to their hands and legs and it is being treated as a prank gone wrong. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, in a statement, a spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said the parents of the affected children were immediately notified and police were continuing to investigate.

‘No Pencils, No Lunch’: Why Teachers Dip into their Own Pockets

According to The Age, a national survey has found that 93 per cent of teachers use their own money to purchase supplies for their school or students and 25 per cent of those – mostly primary teachers – spend more than $1000 a year. 78 per cent buy stationery, 76 per cent buy classroom equipment and 44 per cent buy library resources and textbooks, according to the Australian Education Union’s State of Our Schools research report. The 7804 teachers, principals and support staff that responded to the survey were also spending their own money on supporting individual students, sporting equipment and excursions. Fundraising was considered important to the school budget by 86 per cent of principals nationally and 90 per cent of principals in NSW. About 32 per cent used that money to fund maintenance, a 6 per cent increase on the same statistic as last year.

Gone Phishin’: New OAIC Report

According to Innovations Australia, more than two data breaches are being reported by Australian companies each day, with phishing attacks on the rise, according to the latest Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) report. There were 245 breaches reported to the OAIC from July to September this year as part of the mandatory data breach notification scheme, with the majority the result of malicious or criminal attacks. The report shows that data breaches have continued to grow, with 60 reported in the first two months of the scheme and 242 in the previous quarter’s report this year. Nearly 60 per cent of reported breaches in the July to September quarter were caused by malicious or criminal attacks. These attacks are “deliberately crafted to exploit known vulnerabilities for financial or other gain” and include phishing, malware, ransomware and hacking.

Quarter of High School Teachers say they are Bullied

According to The Age, nearly a quarter of high school teachers in NSW public schools say they have been bullied, primarily by managers or other teachers, in the past year and more than 40 per cent say they have witnessed bullying in that period. The results of the latest People Matters Employee Survey have revealed that both primary and secondary teachers in government schools say they are finding it more difficult to cope with stress at work and more teachers say they are not being paid fairly for their work as compared to other public sector employees. Nearly 50 per cent of the teachers that said they had been bullied said it was by an immediate supervisor or senior manager, which most teachers defined as the principal or deputy principal and 24 per cent said the bully was a fellow teacher. Students or parents were low on the list of bullies, with only 6 per cent of teachers saying they were bullied by a client, customer or a member of the public. Bullying appears to be a bigger issue in high schools than primary schools, with 16 per cent of primary teachers saying they have been bullied at work and 31 per cent saying they have witnessed bullying.

Victorian Government Vows to Reinstate Religious Instruction in State Schools

According to The Age, religious instruction classes will be reintroduced into the Victorian state school curriculum if the Coalition wins next month’s election. Opposition leader Matthew Guy made the announcement at an Australian Christian Lobby pre-election forum and he also reiterated his party’s promise to abolish the contentious Safe Schools program. In 2015, the Andrews government scrapped special religious instruction from class time, following a vocal campaign from parents who said religious instruction has no place in secular state schools. The classes were replaced with lessons on respectful relationships, global cultures, ethics and faith education. Under new rules, the 30-minute religion classes can only be delivered during lunch time or before or after school. Dozens of schools have abandoned religious instruction in the wake of the changes. Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said special religious instruction had no place in the curriculum of secular public schools.

No State has all the Answers in School Education

The Conversation is exploring education across Australia’s states, as detailed in Grattan Institute’s State Orange Book 2018. The federal government provides about one-third of total funding for school education, but it is state and territory governments that run schools. State government policy is therefore a key lever for lifting student outcomes. The Grattan Institute’s State Orange Book 2018 (the Report) shows how state and territory governments are performing on the issues that matter to Australians, and what they should do to improve. School education in Australia, according to the Report needs to improve in three distinct ways. First, there is a need to improve the teaching of core academic skills. Second, there is a need to go beyond traditional academic skills and content. Third, there is a need to reduce the gaps between the educational haves and have-nots.

INTERNATIONAL

Principal told Girls they were Putting Males in an ‘Awkward Situation’

According to CTV News, a principal at a Catholic high school in Ontario has apologised after telling girls they were putting boys in an “awkward situation” like “the Me Too movement” as he measured the length of their skirts to see if they conformed with a dress code. Bern Tate, principal of St. Theresa’s Catholic High School in Midland, can be heard on a recording saying: “It’s like the Me Too movement, you’re putting every male in this building in an awkward situation.” According to Yahoo Lifestyle, the principal has since apologised and, in a statement from Brian Beal, director of education at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board said, “It was never the principal’s intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and he is working to resolve any issues that students and parents have. As a board, we are all committed to learning and growing from this situation. Moving forward, we will be asking our principals to initiate discussions and review their current dress code practices, which will include consultation with parents. This situation will certainly be a starting point for conversations in each of our respective school communities.”

Cyberattacks Aimed at School Websites Surge

According to The NZ Herald, schools are reporting an upsurge in cyber attacks, apparently from disgruntled students who are attacking school websites rather than pressing the fire alarm to disrupt classes. Network for Learning (N4L), a company that provides internet services to 98 per cent of New Zealand schools, says six schools were targeted with “dozens of attacks” aimed at taking down their websites in the first week of Term 4. The “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attacks involved multiple computers bombarding a school’s internet connection with massive amounts of unwanted traffic. In the Asia-Pacific region, an NTT Security report said attacks against education jumped from 9 per cent to 18 per cent of all attacks in 2017, while attacks on the finance sector dropped from 46 per cent to 26 per cent. The Computer Emergency Response Team CERT NZ says; “Many of the devices that connect to your school’s network are bring your own devices (BYOD). Students or staff may be using a malware infected device and not know it. Because you can’t control them, it’s hard to manage security for them.”

Federal Government Tells Catholic Bishops Not to Destroy Sex Abuse Documents

According to the New York Times, the Department of Justice has sent a sweeping request to every Roman Catholic diocese in the United States not to destroy documents related to the handling of child sexual abuse, a sign that the federal investigation into the Church could grow far more extensive in the United States. Catholic bishops have been asked by the federal government to retain their files on a broad array of internal matters, including sexual abuse investigations, and the transfer of priests across state or international borders, or to treatment centres. The request includes documents contained in “secret archives” — the confidential files that are kept by each diocese. The Department of Justice said in the letter that at this point there was “no need” for the bishops to produce any documents “solely on account of this letter.” They said that the letter was only a request that the Church entities “not destroy, discard, dispose of, delete, or alter any of the described documents.”

Two Middle School Girls Brought Knives to their School in a Foiled Plot to Kill Classmates

According to News.com.au, a police officer has said he was “shaken to his core” when he was notified about two young school girls aged 11 and 12 who plotted to kill 15 of their classmates. The girls from Bartow Middle School in central Florida brought knives to their school in a foiled plot to kill classmates, cut them up and drink their blood before killing themselves, police officials said. AP reported that according to the police affidavit, the girls planned to stay in a school bathroom and wait for smaller students to enter where they had planned to cut their victims’ throats, cut up their bodies, eat the flesh and drink their victims’ blood. The students then planned to take their own lives, police said. The girls face charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and possession of a weapon at school, among other charges.

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