Updates to South Australian School Registration Standards

Published
28 November 2019

At the end of October 2019, the South Australian Education Standards Board updated its Standards for Registration and Review of Registration of Schools in South Australia along with the two accompanying Evidence Guides. Has anything important changed? Are there any new registration obligations? Here are the key points you need to know.

 

Overview of the Updates

The South Australian Education Standards Board issues three key documents to help schools manage their registration requirements:

All three documents were updated at the end of October 2019.

The updates do not impose any new obligations on schools. However, they highlight and clarify the existing “fit and proper person” and “financial viability” obligations under Standard 1: School Governance.

Other minor changes include adding a little wording about a school’s purpose to Standard 1 and updating legislative references. Mostly, however, the changes are cosmetic. The Education Standards Board has reformatted the Standards and Evidence Guides to make them easier to read.

 

The “Fit and Proper Person” Obligation Has Been Highlighted and Clarified

The old version of the Standards listed four criteria under Standard 1: School Governance. Criterion 1.2 sets out the responsibilities of the school’s governing body, including “ensuring the proprietor of the school, members of the governing authority of the school and principal and other school leaders are fit and proper persons.”

Under the Updated Standards, the wording of this section remains the same, although it has been moved from Criterion 1.2 to Criterion 1.4.

What has changed is that, in addition to the entry under 1.4, the “fit and proper person” obligation now has its own discrete criterion. The new Criterion 1.2 says: “The School is established by individuals who are fit and proper persons.”

What does this mean for schools? Schools were already required to meet “fit and proper person” requirements so in practice the updated Criterion makes little difference. However, the updated Evidence Guides do provide some helpful, expanded guidance on what is required to demonstrate that you’ve met the “fit and proper person” requirement.

 

The “Financial Viability” Obligation Has Been Highlighted and Clarified

As noted above, the old version of the Standards listed four criteria under Standard 1: School Governance. Criterion 1.2 set out the responsibilities of the school’s governing body. As well as the “fit and proper person” responsibility, there was also the responsibility of “ensuring the ongoing financial viability of the school and reporting on the school’s financial performance.”

Under the Updated Standards, the wording of this section remains the same, although it has been moved from Criterion 1.2 to Criterion 1.4.

What has changed is that, in addition to the entry under 1.4, the “financial viability” obligation now has its own discrete criterion. The new, succinct Criterion 1.3 says: “The School is financially viable.”

What does this mean for schools? Schools were already required to meet “financial viability” requirements so in practice the updated Criterion makes little difference. However, the updated Evidence Guides do provide some helpful, expanded guidance on what is required to demonstrate that you’ve met the “financial viability” requirement.

 

Other Changes

Criterion 1.1 has been expanded to include some wording about the school’s purpose. The old version said, “The school is established as a body corporate or body politic.” The new version says “The school is established as a body corporate or body politic and its principle purpose is the provision of school education.” Minor changes have been made to the Evidence Guides to reflect this update.

Some legislative references have been updated in response to the repeal of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA) and the commencement of the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (SA).

There have been many formatting changes to make the documents more readable, but these do not affect schools’ obligations.

 

Do I Need To Do Anything?

The Standards and Evidence Guides are in effect now and schools must maintain continuous compliance with the obligations in both materials.

Schools should review their relevant policies and procedure and make any required changes needed to reflect the wording changes discussed in this article.

Mark Bryan

Mark is a Legal Research Consultant at CompliSpace. Mark has worked as a Legal Policy Officer for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the NSW Department of Justice. He also spent three years as lead editor for the private sessions narratives team at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Law, a Graduate Diploma in Writing from UTS and a Graduate Certificate in Film Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.