Weekly Wrap: February 28, 2019

28 February 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.


George Pell Has Been Found Guilty of Child Sex Offences. Here's What You Need to Know

According to ABC News, Cardinal George Pell was last year convicted of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996, but the Victorian County Court has not allowed media outlets to report the verdict before now. Pell is Australia's most senior Catholic cleric and he now faces the prospect of prison time. His five-week trial ended last December, when a jury found Pell guilty of sexual penetration of a child under 16, as well as four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence, of a child. According to a later ABC News report, Pell was remanded in custody after a plea hearing on Wednesday, before he is to be sentenced on 13 March.

High Schools Not Prepared for Coming “Tsunami” of Children with Autism: Support Group

According to ABC News, high schools are not prepared for a "tsunami" of children with autism who need greater education options, an autism support group has warned. "We've seen this coming," Nicole Rogerson of Autism Awareness Australia told 7.30. "We know that this is a tsunami level of kids about to hit high school, and we're not prepared for it in any state in Australia." She said there need to be more specialist schools at high school level, as well as more high schools with teachers trained to work with children with autism. "Ideally, we would like every child with autism to be educated in their local school, but for some families that is not possible," Ms Rogerson said.

Aussie Schools Get Pass Mark from Public - with Plenty of Suggestions

According to Education HQ, most Australians don’t see their schools as being ‘in crisis’ or ‘failing’, which is often reported, but more attention should be given to developing students’ life skills in the classroom, according to findings in a new national survey by Monash University. Despite ongoing media and political discussions of failing schools, crises in teacher quality and classroom behaviour, as well as controversy over initiatives such as the Safe Schools Program, Australians are largely positive about the level of education provided to their children. But many adults believe that students should be taught ‘life skills’ as part of the curriculum. This includes knowledge in money management, job preparation, first-aid training and critical thinking, such as recognising fraudulent content online.

Teachers Walk Away from Low Pay and 60-hour Week

According to The Australian, teachers are calling for better pay, relief from burgeoning administrative tasks, greater autonomy in the classroom and support for their own wellbeing, as a federal inquiry prepares to grapple with how to stop people leaving the job in droves. More than 80 submissions have been received to the federal government’s inquiry into the status of the teaching profession, including from teachers, who have provided grim tales of 60-hour working weeks, unpaid overtime, endless paperwork, career stagnation, stress and burnout. Recommendations to the inquiry so far include reducing the classroom load for new teachers, improving access to mentoring and allocating structured time for teachers to plan and review lessons, conduct assessments, collate student data and write reports.

Teaching Bid for Top Students Faces Crisis

According to The Australian, Australia’s schooling system is facing an “unprecedented” crisis in its ability to attract “high-calibre” candidates to the teaching profession, undermining a nationwide bid to arrest deteriorating standards, a leading education academic has warned. In a strongly worded submission to a federal inquiry into the status of the teaching profession, University of Sydney education expert Rachel Wilson describes the decline in entry standards to teaching courses as “deeply concerning”, highlighting the continuing admission of school leavers with low academic achievement and a lack of transparency around the academic achievements of about one-in three who were offered places.

Helicopter Parents Stalking and Bullying Teachers

According to news.com.au, teachers have revealed their horror stories about how intense parents have become. One parent went so far as to stalk a teacher home. Some experts say all teachers will experience harassment from a parent at some stage in their career. Gabbie Stroud, an ex-teacher and author of the book Teacher: One woman’s struggle to keep the heart in teaching, says teachers have lost their autonomy. “They are not recognised or valued as professionals within society.”

New South Wales Schools Face 'Unprecedented' Levels of Disability

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, schools in NSW are facing "unprecedented pressure" due to soaring disability rates, with the number of students with autism increasing by almost 15 per cent per year and those with mental health needs growing by more than five per cent. Yet there are fewer staff trained to support them as the number of special education graduates fall and more than half of teachers admit to a lack of confidence in the area. Education Minister Rob Stokes on Thursday released the NSW Education Department's new disability strategy, which responds to a damning 2017 parliamentary report that found an "unacceptable" number of mistreatment allegations. The inquiry heard cases of "blatant abuses suffered by students ... such as 'caging and isolation'", facial and head injuries and unexplained bruising, sexual and physical assault, and use of restraint and seclusion.

Australian Capital Territory’s New Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Law Won’t Exempt Confessional

According to RiotAct, Catholic priests who obtain knowledge of child sexual abuse through the confessional and fail to report the information to police will be prosecuted under new laws to be introduced to the Legislative Assembly on Thursday (21 February). The laws include a new offence for failing to report child sexual abuse to the police, that will apply to all adults, subject to limited exceptions. Late last year, the ACT Government commissioned Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton to prepare a report on how to best implement the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations regarding the reporting of child sexual abuse that have implications for the confessional seal. Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the ACT Government would be introducing a suite of criminal justice reforms on Thursday following the release of this report.

Militant Unions Teaching Western Australian Pupils How to Strike for Climate Change Action

According to The West Australian, WA schoolkids are being taught how to strike by professional activists at the headquarters of militant unions. Students keen to join the School Strike 4 Climate Action next month have been offered free tutoring on protest tactics. One of the training sessions is to be held at the Fremantle headquarters of WA’s most militant union, the Maritime Union of Australia. The workshop urges students to prepare for the March 15 strike by learning about “people-powered non-violent resistance”. Event details say the workshop, on Saturday, will also explore students’ legal rights and provide “hot tips” on getting media interest.

Figures Released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Show Generational Divide Among WA Teachers

According to The West Australian, a grey wave is sweeping WA classrooms, with the number of teachers older than 60 doubling over the past decade. The growing generational divide in teaching ranks is laid bare by new figures that reveal almost one in five of the state’s educators is now over 60, far outnumbering peers in their 20s. The proportion of teachers in their 20s has remained static, sparking fears for the future as young graduates fail to secure jobs or quickly flame out of the profession. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show more than half of people with teaching degrees do not currently work in education, while a 2014 study estimated one in five graduates did not even register as teachers after completing their degrees.


(Canada) Canada Obliged to Protect Future Generations from Climate Change, Test Case on Carbon Tax Hears

According to The Narwhal, when the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan publicly squared off in court in Regina this month over the constitutionality of a federally imposed carbon tax, a lesser organisation was quietly advancing its own case, on behalf of young Canadians and future generations. The Intergenerational Climate Coalition, an intervenor in the case, argued that the Canadian government has a constitutional obligation to protect minorities, including future generations of children who stand to be negatively impacted by climate change.

(NZ) Backing for New Zealand Students to Abandon Classes over Climate Change

According to RNZ, the Māori Climate Commissioner says she has no qualms about encouraging schoolchildren to strike for action on climate change. Thousands of school students around the world have been staging regular strikes in a bid to push politicians to act aggressively on climate change, and on 15 March some New Zealand students will do the same. Donna Awatere-Huata says anyone who thinks that's irresponsible should think harder. "The world is melting, the Arctic, the Antarctic, our own glaciers are melting, the oceans can't take much more of the greenhouse gases. These young people they're saying: `This is our future'. We're talking an existential issue. We may not exist if we carry on like this."

(UK) Teachers to Join Climate Protests to Demand Curriculum Reform

According to The Guardian, teachers will follow on the heels of striking students on Friday with a protest to demand the national curriculum be reformed to make the climate and ecological crisis an educational priority. The Extinction Rebellion group will support the demonstration outside the Department for Education, which organisers describe as a “peaceful nonviolent protest that may involve civil disobedience”. It is intended as a show of solidarity for pupils who skipped classes last Friday to express their frustration at the failure of older generations to adequately address climate change. Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities in the UK joined the strike.

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