November 22: School Governance Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

What Australian Kids Want on World Children’s Day – 20 November

According to UNICEF, school students between the ages of 14 and 16 from every state and territory were surveyed about their experiences of the Australian education system looking at factors considered to impact on student achievement, such as teachers, subject matter, assessment, home support, school facilities, parental background, gender and extra-curricular activities. Four main points stood out from the survey:

  • Teachers:  Achievement and having a good teacher are highly related: and students are not only aware of this, but want teachers who are skilled, who inspire them and are driven themselves.
  • Curriculum:  A significant number of students want more ‘practical skills’ to be taught at high school: those that will benefit them in life once schooling has finished.
  • Assessment:  A number of students reported the education system to be lacking because it is training them to pass exams, rather than to retain useful knowledge and life skills.
  • Home support:  There is a high correlation between academic achievement and parental or carer encouragement and involvement at home.

According to SBS News, exactly half of the students surveyed said they wanted to learn more practical on-the-job skills, and 48 per cent said they wanted to learn practical financial skills, such as how to budget. Forty per cent said they would like to learn practical living skills, such as how to be healthy, eat good food and exercise.

Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession

Federal Parliament Media Release has announced that the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training has announced an inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession. Committee Chair Mr Andrew Laming MP said the inquiry is about what it takes for Australia to have a world-class education system. “This inquiry will examine ways to develop proper career structures and pathways for teachers to ensure that the profession remains fulfilling and rewarding for educators.  In addition, the inquiry will examine how teachers can be better supported within classrooms and schools more generally, to minimise the amount of time that is spent undertaking out-of-hours work”.

Mr Laming explained that the Committee would seek to build on significant work already done in this area, and will consider relevant outcomes from two key reports, “Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools” and “Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers”, as well as current state and territory reforms. In particular, the Committee wants to look at ways to overcome current constraints to deliver the best school education model for Australia. Some of those constraints include: inflexible curriculum delivery, periodic reporting and assessment practices, a lack of evidenced-based research, an absence of readily-available class room applications, time pressures for teachers and principals, and a lack of support for school principals to develop professional autonomy. Written submissions are being accepted until 21 December 2018.

Queensland and Northern Territory join National Redress Scheme

According to a NT Media Release, the National Redress Scheme continues to grow with the Queensland and Northern Territory governments completing the final steps required to participate in the Scheme. Queensland Minister for Child Safety, Di Farmer, said the Scheme would commence in Queensland on 19 November 2018. Northern Territory Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Natasha Fyles, said providing support to survivors of institutional child abuse is a priority and the Scheme would begin in the Territory on 16 November 2018.

Better Access to Justice for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

According to a Qld Media Release, survivors of child sexual abuse will have better access to justice under legislation introduced into Queensland Parliament by the government. Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the Civil Liability and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Qld) would improve the capacity of the justice system to provide fair access and outcomes to child sexual abuse survivors who wished to pursue a claim for civil damages for personal injury arising from child sexual abuse. Mrs D’Ath said the Bill imposes a duty on institutions to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual abuse of a child by a person associated with the institution while the child is under the institution’s care, supervision, control or authority. The legislation builds on earlier work by the Queensland government to improve survivors’ access to justice, with the removal of the limitation period, participation in the National Redress Scheme and the adoption of whole-of-government guidelines which set out how Queensland and its agencies should respond to civil litigation by child sexual abuse survivors.

Commonwealth Ombudsman Overseas Students Quarterly Update Released

According to a release by the Commonwealth Ombudsman on Overseas Students, fee and refund disputes continue as the most significant complaints issue by overseas students. Of the complaints issues investigated and finalised in the last quarter, 65 per cent were resolved in favour of the provider, 20 per cent in favour of the student and 15 per cent in favour of neither. The main complaints issues were written agreements (fees and refunds – 37 per cent), monitoring attendance and progress (15 per cent), transfer between providers (15 per cent), grades and assessment (9 per cent) and complaints and appeals (6 per cent).

Drought-affected Farmers Choosing Which Child to Remove from Boarding Schools Due to Hardship

According to ABC News, parents of children in drought-affected areas are having to decide which of their kids to remove from boarding schools due to not being able to afford school fees, the head of a national rural group says. The federal president of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA), Wendy Hick, told the ABC that parents who owned farms in drought-stricken parts of the country were reducing the amount of time their children spent at boarding school because money was tight. “Quite often that means the end of education for these children. They go out to work, they need to help out on the farm or whatever project or business the family is in, and that could be the end of their secondary schooling.” Ms Hick said students who attended small rural schools were also affected by a lack of money in many farming families. Often schools would be able to fundraise to get children to activities such as school camps, but in times of hardship there was not enough money throughout the community for that either.

Primary Students Keep Being Rushed to Hospital with ‘Possible Snake Bites’ at Western Australian School

According to 9news.com.au, a primary school in Western Australia sent a letter home with students informing parents that two pupils had been rushed to hospital with “possible snake bites”. The unknown students, believed to be in Year 3 and 4, were on the oval of Meadow Springs Primary School when the separate attacks occurred. The school, which is surrounded by bushland and located in Perth’s south, was then placed in lock down as a snake catcher was called in to inspect the area. The WA Education Department told nine.com.au “emergency procedures” had been put in place for “these types of incidents” due to the proximity to snake habitats.

Shock Spike in Severe Allergic Reactions Sending more Perth Children to Hospital

According to Perth Now, the number of children rushed to hospital emergency departments with allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock has jumped 60 per cent over the past five years. From 2013 to the end of last month, 18,149 children required urgent care in emergency departments across Western Australia because of allergies. This year there have been 3200 cases, compared with 2344 in 2013. Skin-related allergic reactions were the most common (9414 cases), followed by anaphylactic shock (2450), medication (1548), pollen/seasonal (844) and food (543). Another 3350 allergies were unspecified.

INTERNATIONAL

Birmingham Catholic Archbishop Apologises for the Catholic Church’s Response to Abuse Survivors

According to The Catholic Universe, Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham acknowledged failures of the Catholic Church to protect children in his testimony to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse in London. He assured the inquiry of his commitment to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. The London inquiry is investigating child abuse throughout various United Kingdom institutions and heard evidence of abuse in the Birmingham Archdiocese during a five-day hearing.The archdiocese is one of the worst afflicted by clerical abuse in England and Wales and was nominated in 2016 as a case study to represent the Catholic Church nationally.

Uganda Schoolboys Burned to Death after Expelled Students Padlock Doors and Set Fire to Dorms, Principal Says

According to ABC News, at least 10 boys have burned to death at a boarding school in Uganda after, according to local report, expelled students padlocked doors before setting three dorms alight. The BBC reported that officials arrested three former students believed to have started the blaze, which broke out minutes after midnight in a block that housed more than 60 pupils at St Bernard Secondary School in Rakai. Henry Nsubuga, the school’s principal, said he suspected a group of students expelled from school for misconduct were behind the incident.

United States Bishops Had a Plan to Curb Child Sexual Abuse but Rome Ordered Them to Wait

According to The New York Times, facing a reignited crisis of credibility over child sexual abuse, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States came to a meeting in Baltimore prepared to show that they could hold themselves accountable. But in a last-minute surprise, the Vatican instructed the bishops to delay voting on a package of corrective measures until next year, when Pope Francis plans to hold a summit in Rome on the sexual abuse crisis for bishops from around the world. The order from Rome is part of a long power struggle between the American bishops and the Vatican over how to respond to the abuse crisis. The Vatican also applied the brakes in 2002 when the Americans took steps that had not been adopted by the global church, like establishing a “zero tolerance” standard for abusive priests and a national review board made up of lay people. The initiatives that the American bishops had planned to debate and vote on in Baltimore included creating a hotline for reporting accusations against bishops, a lay review board to hear the allegations, and a mechanism to permanently sideline bishops who are judged to be abusers themselves. They also intended to decide on a proposed bishops’ code of conduct.

Police Investigate Alleged Sexual Assault Involving Students at St. Michael’s College School in Canada

According to The National Post, a sexual assault with a broomstick at a prestigious Catholic all-boys school in Toronto involved football team members and a Grade 9 student who entered their locker-room looking for a ride home. CBC News also reported that Toronto police have said that they are investigating the incident and, according to school officials, a total of eight students have been expelled and a ninth suspended. St. Michael’s College School said it “promptly conducted an internal investigation, including meeting individually with the students involved and their parents. The school has also said a “respect and culture review” by a third-party committee will be launched to help examine present and past “unacceptable behaviours” at the school and take steps to eliminate them. Principal Reeves said that the school will be hiring a social worker and making an app available so students can anonymously report code of conduct violations. “The culture of silence is not a good one,” he added. “We have to help kids understand that if they see something that is wrong, they need to report.”

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