November 8: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Debate Flares Over Sexting in Schools

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, children as young as 13 believe all their friends are sexting and nearly 40 per cent of them say they actually are. However, about 42 per cent of young people say they are showing the explicit messages or images to other people or posting them publicly, adding a high degree of risk to what is becoming a social norm, a leading Canadian researcher told an anti-bullying conference in Sydney last week. Wendy Craig, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University, said it was important for parents to have conversations about sexting with their children and for teachers to address it directly within the sex education curriculum. Professor Craig said that while 93 per cent of students in Canada believe other young people sext, making it a social norm, it is ranked far behind cyber bullying and online safety as an area of concern among parents and teachers. Professor Craig said that while it was important to recognise the ways in which sexting can be healthy, especially among older students, they also need to discuss issues of consent around it.

Making New South Wales Schools Feel and Work Better for Everyone

According to a NSW Media Release, a new guide to environmental design offers schools ideas for making positive, sustainable changes and improving student and staff comfort. The Design Guide for schools provides simple strategies to make schools more comfortable like opening windows on both sides of a classroom to encourage air flow and using trees to reduce playground temperature and offer shaded areas for play and learning. The guide also highlights schools that have already used sustainable and environmental design.

Court Hears Student’s Alleged Plan to Kill Students at a North Adelaide School

According to ABC News, an Adelaide schoolgirl charged with stabbing a fellow student had plans to kill five fellow students who she claimed both bullied and assaulted her, a court has heard. The student was arrested at a North Adelaide school in August, after allegedly carrying out a “practice” run against a 17-year-old student. The Adelaide Youth Court was told the accused had previously complained to her school about bullying and had been “pushed to such an extent that there was a suicide attempt”. The Youth Court previously placed a suppression order which banned the media from reporting the full extent of the allegations against the accused. The Court also lifted a suppression order on a second charge the girl is facing – possessing objects with an intent to kill or endanger life. Magistrate Oliver Koehn lifted the suppression order because of what he said was a strong public interest in responsible reporting of bullying in schools to allow for “proper debate” about the issue. He said the bullying by the girl’s alleged targets may have contributed to her offending.

Ex-priest Jailed Again for NSW Child Abuse

According to 9news.com.au, a former NSW Catholic priest already serving a lengthy jail term for molesting children will now be behind bars until at least 2036 for sexually abusing three more altar boys more than 30 years ago. John Joseph Farrell, now 65, was sentenced on Friday in the NSW District Court for sex offences committed between November 1981 and December 1983 at Moree and Narrabri when he was a priest working primarily at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church at Moree. According to 10daily, the sentence overlaps with a previous sentence handed down in 2016, when another District Court judge jailed Farrell for 29 years with a non-parole period of 18 years for grooming and molesting nine altar boys and three girls between December 1979 and December 1988 at Moree and Tamworth. Farrell was one focus of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Classroom Ban for ‘Mr S’ who Sent Teenage Boy 1650 Facebook Messages

According to The Age, a Melbourne teacher who sent 1650 Facebook messages to a male student, including an article about chronic masturbation and an image of elves making sex toys, has been deregistered. The teacher had his registration cancelled for five years after he was found to have “failed to maintain a professional relationship” with the student.  A disciplinary hearing was told in September that the man developed an “unhealthy attachment” to a 16-year-old boy while working at a state high school in 2015 and 2016,. The teacher, whom The Age is calling Mr S for legal reasons, chose not to attend the hearing. The Victorian Institute of Teaching said the decision to deregister was in line with the organisation’s new child safety mandate.

Historical Allegations Bring Jehovah’s Witness Elder to Trial for Child Abuse

According to The Herald Sun, a nine-year-old’s complaint to police 25 years ago has brought a Far North Queensland Jehovah’s Witness elder to trial for allegedly molesting three girls in the 1980s. Donald Stephen Beinke, 76, allegedly indecently touched the three girls while he was an elder in a Far North Queensland town in the 1980s. He has pleaded not guilty in a trial at Cairns District Court. The court heard a Tablelands detective re-examined a historical complaint made in 1993 by one of the complainant girls and interviewed members of the Jehovah’s Witness congregation.

School Funding: SA Signs up for New National Agreement Despite Complaints from Other States

According to ABC News, South Australia has become the first state to sign up to the Federal Government’s new national agreement for schools funding. The Commonwealth has been locked in a dispute with the states over the deal, with several states complaining not enough money would go towards public schools. But the SA Education Minister, Dan Tehan, said he was hopeful other states would now follow South Australia.

INTERNATIONAL

Technology Shakeup in New Zealand Schools All About “Balance”, Say Educators

According to Stuff.co.nz, it’s no secret that New Zealand schools are in the midst of a technological shakeup, changing the nature of learning and teaching. The curriculum was updated at the start of the year to include digital technologies – the biggest change affecting school pupils up to year 10 in a decade. Schools and kura have been given until 2020 to implement the content while Boards of Trustees across the country look to fund equipment or implement policies for students to “bring your own devices”. The Ministry of Education admitted there were “differing views” on children going digital, particularly at Rudolf Steiner Waldorf schools where it had worked to design a standalone curriculum.

79 Pupils Kidnapped from Boarding School in Cameroon

According to The Guardian, suspected secessionists in Cameroon have kidnapped dozens of pupils from a boarding school in an attack reminiscent of Boko Haram’s abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014. The attackers arrived at Presbyterian secondary school Nkwen in Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking north-west region, in the middle of the night. They kidnapped more than 80 people, including the principal, a teacher and a driver, as well as 79 students, according to the regional administrator. Security guards who usually man the entrance to the school were nowhere to be seen, sources said. Sources say the kidnappers have not yet asked for any ransom, but want the school to send the remaining students home before they release the abductees.

Roll-out of Specialist Teachers in New Zealand a Big Win for Kids with Complex Learning Needs

According to The New Zealand Herald, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday the first 600 dedicated staff to support special learning needs such as dyslexia, autism, physical disabilities and behavioural problems would be introduced into primary and secondary schools from the start of 2020. They would work alongside teachers, parents and other professionals to give students individualised support. The co-ordinators would not only help unlock the potential of thousands of children with learning needs, they would free up teachers so all children get more quality classroom time to learn.

Leave a comment