Weekly Wrap: April 4, 2019

04 April 2019

The information in the Weekly Wrap is aggregated from other news sources to provide you with news that is relevant to the education sector across Australia and worldwide. Each paragraph is a summary of the subject matter covered in the particular news article. The information does not necessarily reflect the views of CompliSpace.


Budget guarantees ongoing legal help for survivors of child sexual abuse

In a media release, the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) has welcomed the announcement in the Federal Budget of an additional $1.2 million funding for the knowmore legal service, in connection with the establishment of the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Overall the Federal Budget includes $33.4 million to establish the Commonwealth Redress Scheme. knowmore, established in 2013 as a program of NACLC, has been providing trauma-informed legal services to people engaging with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In a related article, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the federal budget will set aside $22.5 million for a new national centre to help parents and teachers prevent child sexual abuse and better support survivors. Based on one of the recommendations of the royal commission into child abuse, the centre will focus on raising community awareness, reducing the stigma around survivors and understanding the impact of abuse. It is understood the centre will help educate parents, schools, other community members and experts. It will also develop resources and research to prevent child abuse and work on supports to victims and survivors.

'We’re going to see young people die': Ecstasy use by school students doubles in three years

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the proportion of high school students using ecstasy has more than doubled in three years, prompting a leading drug educator to warn about the normalisation of the illicit drug’s use among young people. Paul Dillon, the founder of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia, said the latest Australian Secondary School Students' Alcohol and Other Drug study revealed an “alarming” increase in the consumption of ecstasy by students. Overall, the study found ecstasy use among students aged between 12 and 17 had increased from 2 per cent in 2011 to 5 per cent in 2017.

If we want students to feel safe at school, we can’t encourage teachers to spot potential extremists

According to The Conversation, governments have been reaching into schools to try to nip violent extremism in the bud for some time. The Obama administration announced a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program in 2014. This aimed to deter US residents from joining violent extremist groups by bringing community and religious leaders together with law enforcement, health professionals, teachers, and social service employees. The Australian government has largely modelled its CVE strategies on the UK’s, even though there has been no empirical evidence to support their effectiveness. This has translated to several school programs that focus specifically on CVE. It is paramount that any program developed to protect young people from radicalisation does not contribute to the underlying issues that make young people vulnerable to it.

Germ warfare: Biodiversity might be the cure for modern sickness – and lower health costs as well

According to The New Daily, Adelaide researchers are exploring a very big idea that would tackle the rise of allergies, asthma and immune diseases – and the spiralling cost of healthcare. Scientists from The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide argue that planting more native vegetation, tearing up the concrete plains that dominate our cities and maybe taking a regular dirt bath, like birds do will protect us against a slew of modern diseases. The theory behind this – growing in support over the last decade – is that dwindling biodiversity isn’t just taking out animals and plant species, it’s also taking out varieties of healthy bacteria from the environment we live in, and from inside our own bodies.

Isn't it about time? Schools should be starting later

According to Independent Australia, there are many good reasons why schools should be starting later. Mental wellbeing is essential for a student to obtain a good education throughout their schooling life. One must have good relationships with others, eat the correct food, and scientifically, the most important factor is to sleep well. As proven by many universities, hospitals and institutes, the teenage mind functions best when provided with nine hours of sleep a night. Despite this, recent surveys conducted have found that Australian teens on average are only sleeping five to seven hours per night. This may be because they want to sleep at later times but for the majority of teens in Australia, this lack of sleep is due to the ample amount of homework presented and the ridiculously early starting times of schools. High schools in Australia start from 8:30 to 9:00 am meaning sleep-deprived students are unwillingly forced to wake up at roughly 6:00 am.

Cash push for acclaimed scheme that keeps at-risk students in school

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a program designed to keep “at-risk” students at school, which is reported to help save taxpayers billions of dollars, has won overwhelming support from formerly despairing parents. But 20 years after it began at a single school on the Mornington Peninsula, Hands On Learning still has no federal government funding. The program, which has spread to 90 schools, mostly in Victoria, aims to prevent disengaged students from dropping out by involving them, one day a week, in practical exercises outside the classroom to teach them responsibility, teamwork and problem solving. A recent survey of parents of children involved in Hands On Learning at 21 of those schools found extraordinary support, with 99 per cent of parents reporting the program had given their children the chance to learn by doing real and meaningful projects.

Teaching students are being employed in the classroom rather than heading to university

According to ABC News, some Australian schools have started using a new tertiary training model that allows prospective teachers to skip attending a university, instead giving them ‘hands-on’ in-classroom experience as paid employees. Known as the "clinical teaching" model, the tertiary program sees schools employ students as paid assistant teachers for one to two days a week throughout the duration of their four-year course. Lectures are conducted on-site at the school once a week, meaning the students bypass a university campus entirely. The assistant teachers are mentored by senior practitioners and are paid an initial pro-rata salary of $61,375, which increases as they progress in competency throughout their degree. In an Australian first, the clinical teaching method has been rolled out with 19 teaching students in a cluster of six schools in the Hunter region of New South Wales, in conjunction with private Christian tertiary provider Alphacrucis College.

Catholic Church will not break seal of confession on child abuse

According to RiotAct, Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse has welcomed and endorsed new Australian Capital Territory legislation requiring all adults to report child sexual abuse, but will not direct priests to break the seal of confession regarding the crime. The Crimes Act (ACT) will now require any person over 18 who identifies or believes that a child is being abused to report the matter to police. Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay has made it clear that the new legislation applies to all adults without exception and that while religious practices should be treated with respect, they are specifically not an exception to the law. Instead, Archbishop Prowse will direct priests who hear a confession from an abuser to “do all they can to bring the matter outside the confessional” to report it. He believed this could be negotiated without breaking the seal of confession.

'Profoundly dangerous': A generation at risk from 'concierge parents'

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, one parent was so upset about their child's assessment that they paid an outside tutor to re-mark the essay and demanded the school use the rival result, which was one point higher. Then there was the mother who wrote to a school offering to sit detention on her daughter's behalf, arguing she was the one who was late to wash the forgotten uniform, so she would accept the punishment. They are among a legion of Sydney parents rushing to rescue their children from everyday challenges and minor failures such as a spat with a mate, a talking-to from their teacher, or a forgotten history assignment. Some dub them snowploughs, because they remove obstacles from their child's path. But the principal of St Catherine's School in Waverley, Julie Townsend, prefers the term 'concierge parents'. "They are there at a little desk waiting for any problems, and sort them out," she said.

Nintendo Australia Launches School STEM Program

According to Gamers Classified, in an Australian-first, Nintendo Australia has launched a new program which will take over primary school classrooms nationwide, combining the unique play of Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Labo with the basic principles of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM). This program will be rolled out to schools across Australia. It will involve Nintendo Australia running workshops and providing Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Labo systems to participating classrooms, to help them reinforce skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking.

Kids hit with terror trauma

According to The Australian, NSW Education Department secretary Mark Scott has accused social media giants of showing a lack of urgency towards the protection of children from traumatic online content in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack. Mr Scott told The Australian it was “fundamentally unacceptable” for tech titans such as Facebook and Twitter to say “it is too hard” to monitor violent content, and the result was children are more likely to be traumatised and in need of counselling. His comments came after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged governments to play “a more active role” in regulating harmful content on the internet.

Hundreds of workers' compensation claims for assaults against teachers

According to The Brisbane Times, hundreds of Queensland teachers were attacked by students and parents last year, amid a 64 per cent surge in workers' compensation claims for assaults. In 2017-18, there were 257 WorkCover claims made following assaults against teachers and 140 against other staff. That is up from 157 for teachers and 94 in relation to other staff in 2014-15. Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said teachers were facing violence from parents and students. "It's across a spectrum – it can be verbal abuse, it can be physical assaults, but it's also the impact of online violence," he said. "We're seeing an increasing number of incidents of school employees being subjected to vile abuse by members of the community, many of whom have no relationship to the school whatsoever.”

NAPLAN Review Reveals its Value and Shortcomings – ISQ

According to Independent Schools Victoria Weekly Briefing, Independent Schools Queensland says the Queensland government’s review of the National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has confirmed the value of the testing program, while identifying areas for improvement. According to the parent review, most said that their child had experienced anxiety in relation to the test and a “significant proportion” rated NAPLAN as “not at all valuable” to any stakeholders. The school review (phase 2) found that NAPLAN had “served as both a negative and positive driver of education”. It found that NAPLAN has led to improved performance, and “created awareness in Queensland of the need to direct attention to student learning in literacy and numeracy”. However, the emphasis on NAPLAN as an accountability measure “continues to create a negative competitive environment for systems and schools, perpetuating negative educational practices in some school”.


(International) Science and Maths teacher wins 2019 Global Teacher Prize

According to Teacher Magazine, a Maths and Science teacher who gives away 80 per cent of his monthly salary to help his community has been named winner of the US $1 million Global Teacher Prize for 2019. Peter Tabichi, a Kenyan teacher and a member of the Franciscan religious order, received his prize at an award ceremony in Dubai hosted by actor Hugh Jackman.

(US) New York suburb slaps ban on unvaccinated kids, amid measles emergency

According to The New Daily, a county in New York City’s northern suburbs has banned unvaccinated children from gathering in public places as it battles a measles outbreak that has infected more than 150 people since September. The ban affects anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against the deadly virus and comes as Rockland County declares a state of emergency in its fight against the ongoing outbreak. The 30-day ban includes shopping centres, civic centres, schools, restaurants and houses of worship. Those who flout it could be charged with an offence punishable by up to six months in jail.

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