Since the publication of AS 5725:2015 Boarding Standard for Australian schools and residences (AS 5725 or the Standard) back in 2015 the journey toward its adoption by boarding schools has been an interesting one.
Many schools have grabbed the Standard with both hands, worked hard to ensure they had the required policies and procedures in place, and would be sitting back with only a few issues yet to resolve. NT has also referenced it. However there are some schools which have not even purchased a copy of the Standard yet, nor have they done any work to address the compliance needs it sets out.
So why not?
In the first instance, the Standard published by Standards Australia is a voluntary one - a guide toward excellent practice in boarding school management and operation. This, of course, means that there is absolutely no requirement to meet any or all of the aspects of the Standard. With the registration process in New South Wales already in place, and already addressing the great majority of the sections spelled out in the Standard, the New South Wales schools are well on the way. The Western Australian Government recently included the Boarding Standard in their boarding school registration requirements. However, the other States/Territories are lagging behind.
The Australian Boarding Schools Association last year developed a self-assessment program which leads toward a soon-to-be-launched Certification option for schools. Over 80 schools have already started this journey, and have found it rewarding and challenging, both at the same time. The self-assessment is designed to guide schools to find out where they are up to in regards to the requirements listed in the Standard, and the second year of this self-assessment will guide schools on their progress toward Certification.
Coming back to the why not question - there really is no excuse. The important role boarding schools play in the care and development of those living at school demands that our schools are operated at the highest standard possible. Without addressing each of the aspects of community living as listed in the Standard, the boarding school is at risk - not only the risk of not looking after their charges well, but also the risk of being liable if something goes wrong.
The Standard for Australian schools and residences was written to ensure excellent practice amongst the boarding schools in this country - let’s help them all reach this!
Boarding Schools across Australia are celebrating National Boarding Week this week (13 - 19 May) including a national event called Boarders Run Australia where every boarder is running at least 1 kilometre - when everyone has completed this we will have run the circumference of Australia! We also have a ‘Best Boarding Room’ competition on our Social Media sites - #whynotboarding. All schools are celebrating boarding within their schools in many ways - and media outlets across the country are running boarding items in their news feeds.
The International boarding Conference being run by ABSA in Melbourne from 2 - 4 October will feature Robert Fitzgerald AM, Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This input will supplement AS 5725 to help Boarding Schools achieve an even safer, more secure and happier environment for their boarders.