Changes to the Tasmanian Non-Government Schools Registration Board Guidelines

Published
06 February 2020

Changes to the Non-government Schools Registration Board Guidelines for the registration and re-registration of a non-government school

The Tasmanian Standards for Registration and Renewal of Registration of Non-government Schools (Standards) are contained in Schedules to the Education Regulations 2017 (Tas), as follows:

  • Standards for Registration of System of Non-government Schools — Schedule 2
  • Standards for Registration of New Individual Non-government Schools — Schedule 3
  • Standards for Renewal of Registration of Registered Individual Schools — Schedule 4.

The Education Act 2016 (Tas) provides that the Non-government Schools Registration Board may make Guidelines as to the application process against each of the Standards, with the Guidelines to be approved by the Minister of Education and Training. The aim of the Guidelines is to provide schools with an understanding of matters that the Non-government Schools Registration Board will take into account when determining whether a school meets the Standards and to set out information that schools must provide to the Office of the Education Registrar as part of the application for registration.

The Office of the Education Registrar has published new Non-government Schools Registration Board Guidelines for the registration of a new non-government school and for the re-registration of a non-government school. There are no separate Guidelines for the registration of a system of schools.

There haven’t been any changes to the Standards.

 

Details of the Changes to the Guidelines

Set out below are the changes to the Guidelines covering renewal of registration.

The Guidelines for registration of a new individual school are similar to the Guidelines for renewal of registration. The differences include that the Guidelines for registration of a new school refer to documents such as the school’s “proposed strategic plan” rather than the “strategic plan” and do not mention documents such as audited financial statements.

 

Standard One — Governance

The requirements set out in the Standard include that the governing body must be able to demonstrate its responsibility for the school’s strategic direction and overall management of school finances, and that it must have a school development plan.

 

Supporting Evidence in Previous Guidelines

As Supporting evidence for Standard One, the superseded Guidelines required schools to provide, as part of their submission, their strategic plan, development plan and five year financial plan.

 

Supporting Evidence in New Guidelines

In the new Guidelines, the explanatory notes to Standard One state that the strategic plan, development plan and five year financial plan can be separate or part of one document.

Regarding the requirement for these documents to be endorsed by the governing body, the explanatory notes now state that this endorsement can be provided by the Chair’s signature on the document, a minute of a board meeting, or a letter from the Chair.

 

Standard Three — Curriculum

The Standard requires that the governing body must provide a curriculum that is approved by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and satisfies the requirements of the Australian Government in relation to its delivery. The governing body must provide all of the learning areas of the Australian Curriculum (or another curriculum approved by ACARA).

 

Supporting Evidence in Previous Guidelines

The supporting evidence required for this Standard includes a curriculum plan for each relevant stage of schooling.

 

Supporting Evidence in New Guidelines

The new Guidelines state that, rather than providing hard copy documents, the school may elect to provide the Registration Officer(s) with access to the School’s Learning Management System.

Where the superseded Guidelines stated that one of the matters required to be included in the curriculum plan for each stage was “scope and sequence for each year level under the eight key learning areas giving a detailed overview of the units covered each term” showing content, achievement standard and a unit of work, the new Guidelines stipulate:

  • “scope and sequence for each year level under the eight key learning areas”
  • “eight (8) sample scope and sequence documents across a random selection of year levels — early years, primary and secondary (where appropriate), and across the eight learning areas — giving a detailed overview that shows” content, achievement standard and a unit of work.

 

Standard Six — Financial Resources

Schools are required to have sufficient financial resources to provide education and learning programs satisfactory for a registered school and the kind of students who will attend it.

 

Supporting Evidence in New Guidelines

Two additional documents must now be provided as part of the school’s submission:

  • a Solvency Statement signed by the governing body that the school is financially viable and can meet its recurrent financial commitments
  • the school’s Australian Government Department of Education Financial Questionnaire as submitted for the previous year.

The explanatory notes now include the following note about the audited financial statements:

“An Individual School must provide audited financial statements that are specific and relevant for that School. They must be for the School only and not consolidated in other accounts such as system or holding accounts.”

 

Standard Eight — Facilities and Environment

The Standard requires governing bodies to demonstrate that their building, facilities and grounds comply with all relevant laws. The physical environment and facilities must be safe, suitable for the age groups of the relevant students, enable the delivery of the curriculum to students and enable the delivery to students of a diverse range of experiences that promote learning and development.

 

Supporting Evidence in Previous Guidelines

For all existing buildings the following documents may be requested:

  • a maintenance schedule for the premises — both buildings and grounds
  • Work Health and Safety policy and procedures
  • documentation confirming the premises meet the health, safety and structural requirements of the State or local government area where relevant
  • documentation showing compliance with local government planning and health and safety by-laws — documentation confirming the premises will meet any requirement for occupancy, including approved students and staff capacity where relevant
  • annual calendar of auditing and compliance against other Acts in relation to work, health and safety including safety of environment and facilities
  • a current Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan
  • Form — Standard 9 Facilities and Environment Statement of Compliance. NB While the Guidelines refer to this form as a Standard 9 form, the form itself correctly states it is related to Standard Eight.

 

In the explanatory notes, the first paragraph states that:

“The Board does not regulate compliance with the Building Code of Australia or with local government health and safety requirements. However, copies of approvals, permits and certificates that provide evidence of such compliance may be requested.”

 

The final paragraph, under the heading “Work Health and Safety” states:

“Schools are required to demonstrate through their Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy and procedures that the safety and health of students, volunteers and visitors as well as staff and contractors are managed appropriately.”

 

Supporting Evidence in New Guidelines

The documents set out above, in relation to all existing buildings, must now be provided.

In the explanatory notes, the two paragraphs quoted above have been brought together under the heading “Work Health and Safety”, and the sentence about copies of documents that provide evidence of compliance with the Building Code of Australia has been amended to state that such documents (approvals, permits and certificates) must be provided.

 

Standard Ten — Number of Students

The Standard requires the governing body to demonstrate that the number of students who attend the school is sufficient to establish and maintain its financial and educational viability. Class sizes must be appropriate to meet students’ educational, social and supervision needs. Not more than half of the students may be the children of the principal and staff.

 

Supporting Evidence in Previous Guidelines

The explanatory notes states that there is no prescribed minimum number of students but that enrolled students must be from at least two families and, for the purposes of the Standard, must not include the children of the principal.

 

Supporting Evidence in New Guidelines

The explanatory notes now state that for the purposes of the Standard the number of enrolled students must not include the children of the principal and staff [our emphasis]. This amendment means the wording of the explanatory note now reflects the wording of the Standard.

 

How Will Schools Be Affected?

 As a commencement date has not been stipulated for the new Guidelines, it is expected that the new documentary requirements will take effect immediately. Schools should note the changes and ensure their submissions for re-registration are prepared in accordance with the amended requirements.

 

Helen Juillerat

Helen is a Legal Research Consultant at CompliSpace. She completed a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Queensland and has worked in legal publishing and in roles in the public higher education and health sectors focusing on governance, policy and compliance.