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Upcoming Changes to ACT School Registration

13/10/22
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ACT

The amendments to the Education Act 2004 (ACT) (Education Act) made by the Education Amendment Act 2022 (ACT) (Amending Act) will commence on 20 Dec 2022. The Amending Act will make a range of changes to the operation of all schools in the ACT and the registration of non-government schools. The Explanatory Statement and Supplementary Explanatory Statement that were published as companion documents to the Education Amendment Bill 2022 (ACT) discuss the goals of the reforms, including:

  • strengthening the reporting of unenrolments, terminations of contract, transfers, expulsions and exclusions by government and non-government schools
  • clarifying and updating the processes for suspension, transfer, expulsion and exclusion in government and non-government schools
  • streamlining the non-government school registration process.

This article will summarise some of the key changes related to student enrolment and discipline as well as the status of the new registration standards for non-government schools.

 

Student Movement Register

One of the major changes introduced by the Amending Act is the establishment of a Student Movement Register (Register). The Register will replace the existing Student Transfer Register that records the transfer of students between schools in the ACT. Principals and proprietors of registered schools will need to document when a student begins their enrolment, ends their enrolment, is expelled or excluded or transitions to home schooling. These events must be documented within five days and recorded on the Register. The ACT Government has indicated that the purposes of this change include being able to identify signs of risk and vulnerability, such as multiple movements between schools within a short period of time.

 

Unsafe and Non-Compliant Behaviour

The Amending Act includes changes to the procedures for suspension and expulsion of students, including with reference to a new concept of “unsafe and non-compliant behaviour”. The Education Act currently permits the suspension or expulsion of students if they have engaged in persistently and wilfully non-compliant behaviour. This will be known as unsafe and non-compliant behaviour. Students can only be suspended or expelled if their behaviour reduces the safety or effectiveness of the learning environment at the school because it is non-compliant or because it poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of students, staff or others at the school. Schools are still required to give written notice, consult with students and parents and provide an opportunity to respond to concerns before action is taken against students.

 

New Registration Requirements and Review Process

The Amending Act contains new requirements for the registration of non-government schools. The registration standards will take effect on commencement of the Act, but no action may be taken against schools for non-compliance with the registration standards for the first nine months after commencement. The Registrar of Non- Government Schools will be responsible for administering the registration of non‑government schools as well as devising and carrying out a program of registration review. The Registrar must publish registration standards guidelines about how registered schools are expected to comply with the new standards.

The ACT Government’s reforms also include a move away from five-year registration to ongoing registration with risk-based review cycles. The Registrar must develop an annual registration review program. The Registrar also must make registration review guidelines, about how a registration review may be carried out.

The Registrar must develop the registration standards guidelines and the registration review guidelines in consultation with the new Registration Standards Advisory Board, Catholic Education, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, the Association of Independent Schools of the ACT and the proprietor of any registered school that is not a Catholic system school or a member of the Association of Independent Schools of the ACT. As of the date of this publication, guidelines have not yet been published.

 

More Information

ACT Education: Legislation Administered by the Directorate


 

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Nick Edwards

Nick is a Legal Content Senior Associate at Ideagen CompliSpace. Nick has several years' experience designing and administering eLearning for the Aged Care Sector and holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology Sydney with First Class Honours.

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