Weekly Wrap: June 13, 2019

13 June 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.


Tax tips for teachers – what you can and can’t claim for

Tax time is on the horizon. Can you claim for your wall display posters or the prize rewards for students you keep dipping into your own pocket for? What about that professional learning conference you went to on the holidays, or your travel costs for after-school events? And, is your flu shot a deductible expense? Teacher Magazine spoke to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to find out.

NAPLAN ‘blind’ to cultural factors

According to The Australian, a student’s cultural background has been found to have a significant impact on their academic ­results, sparking calls for an overhaul in the way educational advantage in school communities is measured. Groundbreaking analysis of NAPLAN results from more than 120,000 students has identified large differences in students’ average scores linked to their specific cultural background and language spoken at home — more so than socio-economic factors. Students who reported a ­Chinese, Japanese or Korean-language background have been found to score, on average, up to 65 points higher on the numeracy test compared with students who speak English at home. Conversely, students who ­report an Aboriginal, African or Polynesian-language background score as much as 40 points lower. The research, which has been seen by The Australian, was conducted by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and has underpinned its call for the cultural background of students to be considered when assessing school advantage or disadvantage, alongside other influential factors such as parental education and occupation and school location. The appeal comes amid a federal review into the presentation of NAPLAN results that is investigating, among other things, the potential for misinterpretation or misuse of the data.

The kids are all right: sex survey finds teens are sexting less, using contraception

According to The Age, teenagers are sexting less than they were five years ago and mostly within their relationships. A La Trobe University study of more than 6300 students from across the country found about one in three students had sent a "sext." Researchers say the drop is due to greater education around the risks of sexting. "There's been a lot more media coverage in the last five years and education in schools so there is more awareness around it," lead researcher Associate Professor Christopher Fisher said. The sixth National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health, which is funded by the Federal Government, also found 75 per cent of teens aged 15 to 18 are sexually active in some way - up from almost 70 per cent in the last survey in 2013. Researchers cautioned against comparing the results of the two studies, with only 2100 students from government, Catholic and independent schools across Australia surveyed in the 2013 study, compared with more than 6300 nationally in the most recent poll.

School teachers called to set teen students active homework

According to the Herald Sun, teenagers have been arguing it for years. But now there is evidence to back up their claims that doing hours of homework is bad for their health, as experts reveal how it must change. Experts from Australia’s world-leading Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) say teachers should be setting secondary school students less sedentary homework to help improve their academic performance as well as their wellbeing. The world-first research shows teenage students sit for 75 per cent of the time while at school and 73 per cent of time after school. “We need to look at ways to make homework and recreation time less sedentary as teenagers spend almost three-quarters of the evening period between 6pm and 10pm sitting,” lead researcher Dr Lauren Arundell said. The Deakin University IPAN study, published today in the prestigious journal BMC Public Health, tracked nearly 400 students at 18 Victorian high schools using wearable devices.

Trainee-teacher test flops kept secret

According to The Australian, the Department of Education is withholding data on the literacy and numeracy skills of the nation’s trainee teachers in a bid to protect universities from scrutiny over ­declining academic standards. As The Australian revealed last week, about 10 per cent of teaching students nationwide failed the Year 9-equivalent Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) last year, with figures obtained under freedom-of-information laws showing pass rates had slipped for a third year running. However, the department has declined to provide a breakdown of state and territory results, as well as pass and fail rates for each university, as it has done in previous years. In an email to The Australian, a representative said “the release of these results would present issues in some jurisdictions, specifically where individual providers will likely be unfairly identifiable in the data set”. “This would be contrary to data access protocols agreed by test stakeholders,” the representative said.

Scott Morrison’s $2.8m boost for Victorian students’ mental health

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the funding will offer more education and early intervention to help an estimated one in four Australians aged from 16 to 24 who experience mental illness. The $2.8 million will go to a not-for-profit group, batyr, to offer more online services and support a program of school visits promoting youth mental health and suicide prevention. The group is named after a talking elephant. The Coalition is spending $503 million on a youth mental health and suicide prevention plan that it says is the largest in Australia's history and includes indigenous suicide prevention. The government estimates it will spend $4.9 billion on all its mental health programs this year, but it faces calls from experts for an overhaul of the system to make it easier for Australians to access services.

George Pell's 'unimpeachable' child sex abuse convictions should remain, prosecution tells appeal court

According to ABC News, prosecutors have argued George Pell's victim was a "witness of truth" as they contend the disgraced Cardinal's child sex abuse convictions are "unimpeachable" and should be upheld. Pell, 77, is appealing against a jury's decision to convict him of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996, and abusing one of the boys again the following year. He is currently serving a six-year jail sentence for the crimes. Pell, a former senior Vatican official, pleaded not guilty at trial, but was convicted of one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with a child. He appeared in the Victorian Court of Appeal for the first day of his appeal hearing yesterday and sat in the dock intently taking notes. Pell is first requesting leave to appeal — permission for his appeal to be considered —but his application for leave and the appeal itself are being argued at the same time. According to The Guardian the judges presiding over the appeal have reserved their decision, and did not state when they would return to the court to deliver it.

Segregation deepening within school system – research

The Educator reports that while schools play a vital role in developing inter-cultural understanding in the community they are becoming increasingly segregated, according to new research. The findings, by leading University of Technology Sydney (UTS) researcher, Dr Christina Ho, were contained in a new research paper titled: ‘Ethnic Divides’, which was recently published by the Centre for Policy Development. According to government data, 83 per cent of students in fully selective New South Wales schools were from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE), while more than half of the 99 schools with fewer than 10 per cent LBOTE students were private and in wealthy areas. “Schools are the place that children and young people spend the largest portion of their time outside the home, and it’s where they are exposed to the people that will shape their perceptions and attitudes,” Dr Ho told The Educator.

State $8bn better off because of Catholic schools

According to The Australian, governments would have to find nearly $8 billion in capital funding to house the overflow of students if the NSW Catholic school system was removed from Australia’s education landscape. An Ernst & Young study has quantified the impact — and benefit — of the 600 Catholic schools in NSW, which educate 250,000 students and effectively save the state and federal budgets billions. The report shows that from 2018 to 2022, the recurrent savings to the government of having a Catholic system will reach a cumulative total of $2.6bn. The firm modelled the cost impact of governments having to provide infrastructure for schools if the Catholic sector was removed from the equation. It found nearly $8bn would be needed to plug the hole left by the Catholic sector, ­excluding land value.


(Solomon Islands) Australia urged to commit to girls' education in the Solomons as report reveals high dropout rate

According to ABC News, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been urged to invest in girls' education during his visit to Solomon Islands, as a report reveals the Pacific nation has one of the lowest secondary school graduation rates for girls in the world. Advocacy group Plan International revealed that while about 70 per cent of girls finish primary school, that figure plummets to just 7 per cent for secondary school. The report listed mandatory school fees for years 10-12, high rates of gendered violence and underage marriage, and significantly fewer job opportunities for girls over boys as key reasons why girls leave school early. Dropping out of high school can lead to unemployment, a lack of financial independence, and limited access to health care.

(The Vatican) Vatican declares gender can’t be fluid in new teaching manual

According to SBS News, the Vatican has dismissed modern gender theory in a new teaching guide called "Male and Female He Created Them", aimed at helping Catholic school teachers challenge concepts, which "deny the natural difference between a man and a woman". "It is becoming increasingly clear that we are now facing with what [sic] might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality," the paper, drawn-up by the Roman Church's education ministry, states. It added that the current gender theory can "annihilate the concept of nature" and destabilise the family institution. The document is to be distributed internationally across the Catholic educational system. The document has caused some controversy on social media. A US-based Jesuit priest, Reverend James Martin tweeted while the paper calls for "dialogue" and "listening", it "sets aside the real-life experience of LGBT people"

(United States) Spying on Children Won’t Keep Them Safe

According to an article in The New York Times, Western New York’s Lockport City School District’s eight public schools began testing a system called Aegis, which includes facial recognition technology, that could eventually be used to track and map student movements in schools. How that happened is a cautionary tale for other schools across the country. Thanks to the efforts of the New York Civil Liberties Union, state officials have finally begun to ask the kinds of questions they should have asked before the project was approved. On Wednesday, the New York Assembly Education Committee approved a bill that would put a moratorium on the use of facial recognition in schools for a year to allow for further study of the issue.

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