Weekly Wrap: February 13, 2020

Published
13 February 2020

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.


 

AUSTRALIA

Private schools record strongest growth in a decade

According to The Educator, Australia’s private school sector recorded its strongest growth in more than a decade, the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show. According to the data, private schools experienced 2.5 per cent growth in full time equivalent enrolments being the sector’s highest since 2008. The 2019 figures show that Independent school sector represents 14.8 per cent of all Australian school enrolments, and 19.0 per cent of all secondary enrolments. Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) CEO, Dr David Mulford, said that in 2019 there was a net increase of 10 Independent schools in Australia, with student numbers growing by over 14,000. “These numbers show that parents have strong confidence in Independent schools,” Dr Mulford said. “In 2019 the Independent school sector also recorded the largest growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolments at 7.1 per cent”.

 

Catholic schools lose ground to government and independent sectors

According to The Brisbane Times, a greater proportion of parents are choosing to send their children to independent and state schools, while the Catholic sector's share of enrolments continues to fall. Independent schools that charge fees of less than $5000 have experienced the biggest leap in enrolment growth, increasing their share of students by 4.7 per cent, new data shows. While the number of students enrolled in Catholic schools grew last year, rising for the first time in three years, it was not enough to stop the sector from continuing to lose ground to government and independent schools. Australia’s Catholic school student population has grown by just 0.5 per cent over the past five years, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. In the same period, the government school sector grew 6.1 per cent and the independent school sector grew 8.1 per cent. Catholic schools gained 4000 students last year, after shedding 1300 students between 2016 and 2018. Government schools, however, gained more than 36,000 students last year, while independent school enrolments grew by more than 14,000.

 

Number crunchers find poorest schools have the poorest teachers

According to The Age, students in Australia’s most disadvantaged schools are about 10 times more likely to have their education hindered by chronic teacher shortages than students in wealthier schools. New research shows that they are also more than five times more likely to have their learning disrupted due to teacher absenteeism, with rates of absenteeism deteriorating in the past three years. They are also five times more likely to be taught by a teacher who is not qualified in that subject. The research, by advocacy group Save Our Schools, has revealed that the gap in teaching quality and learning resources in Australia is among the widest in the developed world. The group's national convener Trevor Cobbold, a former Productivity Commission economist, analysed data from the OECD’s 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment to make the report’s findings.

 

Top teachers should train their junior colleagues, Grattan Institute report suggests

According to ABC News, Australia is failing to make the most of its best teachers and should introduce a professional training model more like that used in Singapore and Shanghai, according to a new report from the Grattan Institute. The report puts forward a new model that would see top-performing teachers train their more junior colleagues — a move they say could also help boost Australian students' results on global tests. But the recommendations have already sparked debate about the best use of school funding. In a survey of around 750 teachers and principals, the researchers found that most teachers liked the idea of learning from their more experienced colleagues, at least in principle. But 70 per cent also said they only occasionally, rarely or never changed their day-to-day teaching methods based on that sort of training.

 

Governments “ignoring evidence on segregated settings”

According to The Educator, a growing body of research has shown that, when included in mainstream education, children with disabilities thrive in their learning. Indeed, one of the recommendations by the New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into the education of children with disabilities was that all children should be included in mainstream education as a default. However, there are little signs that governments are listening, with some states even increasing the number of segregated educational settings. Dr David Roy from the University of Newcastle, who works closely with governments and disability advocacy groups, said that as a result the outlook for children with a disability in 2020 is looking “dismal”. He pointed to the absence of people with a disability at the Disability Royal Commission hearings, which included a focus on the education of vulnerable children.

 

Coronavirus: Detention of students sparks China backlash

The Australian reports that China has criticised Australia’s treatment of its students caught up in the coronavirus travel ban, calling for the reinstatement of cancelled visas and compensation for those affected. China’s deputy ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining, said Beijing was “not happy” with the detention of 74 Chinese students by Border Force personnel at Australian airports on Sunday 2 February. Mr Wang also called for a “proper solution” to be found for Chinese students enrolled to study in Australia who were unable to get into the country due to the Morrison government’s ban on people arriving from China. More than 106,600 Chinese students — 56 per cent of those enrolled in courses this semester — are unable to enter Australia due to the travel ban. This includes nearly 98,000 tertiary students, about 4050 secondary students, and 2670 TAFE students. Education Minister Dan Tehan defended the treatment of the Chinese students who were in transit when the travel ban was announced, saying Border Force officials had placed an “absolute priority” on safety.

 

Overseas students undeterred by Australia’s terrible bushfire season

According to The Australian, in good news for the beleaguered international education sector, a student survey has found that very few overseas students are concerned by Australia’s unprecedented summer bushfire season and the smoke that blanketed major capitals. The survey of more than 2000 students, who are either thinking of studying in Australia or part way through the enrolment process, found that more than nine in 10 had heard at least “a fair bit” about the fires. Only 5 per cent of them said they were less likely to study in Australia as a result. Interestingly, 23 per cent said they were more likely to study in Australia after hearing about the fires, with some saying they would like to help with the recovery effort, for example in wildlife rescue. Nearly two-thirds of students, or 64 per cent, said that their knowledge of the fires made no difference to whether or not they would study in Australia. The survey was carried out on 21 to 28 January by QS Enrolment Solutions, a company that assists universities and other education providers to enrol international students.

 

Business ramps up fight on religious freedom law

The Financial Review reports that business is making a last ditch bid to kill off the Morrison government's proposed religious freedom law, ramping up warnings that it will lead to more workplace disputes and impose legal costs on firms. The government's revised exposure draft bill fails to fix several problems, according to Ai Group's latest submission to Attorney General Christian Porter. Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said that the group supports the right to freedom of religion but the proposed law would lead to increased staff grievances that are unable to be resolved by employers and negatively impact their business. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Medical Association have spoken out against the proposed law, with ACCI warning that it could put businesses in a "very expensive" position as they try to balance the rights of religious and non-religious staff. Larger businesses, including sporting bodies, will find it harder to sack workers under the proposed Religious Discrimination Act.

 

Students’ attitudes to school and reading achievement

According to Teacher, a new Australian study examining the link between secondary students’ attitudes towards school and reading performance has found that experiencing bullying has a strong relationship with how students perform on the NAPLAN reading assessment. Thomas Cain, Assistant Principal of Monterey Secondary College in Victoria, and Professor John Hattie from the University of Melbourne, analysed a sample of more than 57 000 Year 7 and 9 students from 306 Victorian government schools and analysed two data sets – students’ responses to the Student Attitudes to School Survey and their performance in NAPLAN reading assessments in 2017. “Many schools embark on projects to improve reading achievement, but not all would consider an effective bullying strategy and actions as being an important component of their ‘must-have’ list,” the authors say.

 

Teen mums struggle to overcome discrimination in special program that gets them back to school

The ABC News reports on Young Families Connect, a rare flexi-school program at Ipswich State High School, west of Brisbane, where teenage mums can bring their babies to classes and the facilities include a kitchen, creche and play area. Young Families Connect has been run for the past five years thanks to the firm backing of Ipswich High principal Simon Riley. He said they were expanding to meet the increasing demand. Mr Riley said Queensland was behind other states when it came to helping teens manage their pregnancies while continuing their education. "Canberra has a wonderful facility, Western Australia has a few and both are funded by state governments," he said. National children's commissioner Megan Mitchell said the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been calling on state and federal governments to provide more support and funding to keep Australia's young parents in school.

 

Govt halves primary school bike safety program

According to In Daily, the South Australian State Government has halved the number of children eligible for its primary school bike and road safety program under a new contract, which the Transport Minister said was put out to tender to increase the number of children in the program. The Way2Go program teaches children aged 9 to 13 how to ride bicycles and scooters, and how to use public transport and walk safely along roads and footpaths. About 8000 students have gone through the program in each of the past four years. The program was put out to competitive tender last year, in a move Transport Minister Stephan Knoll described as a means to increase the number of children that would be put through the program. But documents released as part of the tender, which closed last week, show the Government plans to cut the program in half, to 4000 students each year.

 

INTERNATIONAL

Sex abusing teachers: Number of convictions and allegations skyrockets in 2019 (New Zealand)

The NZ Herald reports that the number of teachers struck off for sex offending last year skyrocketed - surpassing 2018 by more than five times. And the number of sexual misconduct allegations has also increased dramatically. Figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act by the Teaching Council show that in the 2019 calendar year 13 teachers had their registration cancelled as a result of being convicted of a sexual offence. In total, 131 allegations were made against teachers that "include reference to sexual misconduct". In 2018 just two registrations were cancelled and there were 92 allegations in total. The figures were provided to the Herald a day after disgraced Blenheim teacher Jaimee Cooney abandoned a bid for permanent name suppression. Cooney, 37, is understood to be the first female teacher in New Zealand convicted and sentenced for sexual offending against students.

 

The consequences – and causes – of private school growth: a look at Nepal (Global)

According to the World Education Blog, few issues have garnered as much policy and research interest in the world as non-state education expansion. Nepal is the author’s home country and country of research. It is where the author chose to systematically analyse the consequences of private schooling for the education system’s equity and quality, which had not been explored so thoroughly in lower income countries before. The analysis aimed to explore the implementation of classic economic arguments – that giving parents choice will make them more engaged and satisfied; and that choice will force schools to compete and provide better quality. The analysis also included developing new indicators of competition and frameworks for parent decision-making, building on economic and sociological insights from the United States and evidence from Chile.

 

English schools buying in mental health support has “almost doubled” in three years (United Kingdom)

The Guardian reports that the number of schools in England buying in professional mental health support for pupils has nearly doubled in three years, as prompt access to NHS (National Health Service) services for those children most in need continues to be a problem, a new survey has found. In 2016 more than a third (36 per cent) of schools surveyed provided school-based support for students’ emotional and mental wellbeing. By 2019, 66 per cent of school leaders said that they were commissioning their own professional support for pupils, including school-based counsellors. The poll, by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), indicates that schools have developed an improved understanding and recognition of children’s mental health needs, but head teachers say there is still a lack of capacity in specialist services for those with more serious problems.

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