Weekly Wrap: June 20, 2019

20 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.


Schools not preparing students for university or work

According to the Australian Financial Review, falling school maths and reading scores have undercut the demand-driven policy to expand university access despite tens of billions of dollars more taxpayer funding. A Productivity Commission review says many students from disadvantaged backgrounds are entering university "ill-prepared and struggling academically", leading to high dropout rates and leaving many of them worse off financially. The Commission said schools have not focused on what’s expected of them: to get more people to succeed at university. This was evident in falling performance on the global Program For International Student Assessment (PISA) since 2003. That's despite spending on schools that is running at more than $1 billion a week, and which is about to be topped up with an extra of $23 billion over 10 years under the Gonski reforms.

Staying safe online: The challenge of supporting digital natives

In this article from The Educator, e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant provides some tips on how to help children stay safe online in an age when they probably know more about technology than you do. Research indicates that the most common source of online safety information for parents is through their school – with 56 per cent of parents consuming information from a variety of sources, including the school website, newsletters and presentations. When their child had a negative online experience, 22 per cent of parents sought support from the school. To assist educators with this, eSafety has developed an accredited Teacher Professional Learning Program, empowering teachers to guide their students through a range of online challenges that they may encounter.

In defence of technology in schools

According to The New Daily, a recent study published in Nature Human Behaviour suggests that all the digital technology use may not be as detrimental for young people as previous research has indicated. The researchers were cynical about the negative findings linking tech and negative wellbeing, so they used a novel and more robust analytical approach to examine the relationship between screen time and wellbeing. As highlighted by the innovative study, the results of many empirical studies supporting the “technology is bad for young people” argument are often hampered by limitations with research design and analysis. Perhaps it’s time for the media and public opinion to put less stock in the findings of individual studies, and empower schools to make their own choices based on what they believe is best for the students they teach.

Children with autism may use memory differently. Understanding this could help us teach them

According to The Conversation, around one in every 70 Australians are on the autism spectrum. The proportion of children with autism is higher – more than 80 per cent of all Australians on the autism spectrum are aged under 25. The high proportion of children on the autism spectrum presents an obvious challenge to teachers and the learning environment. One way they can respond to it is to examine what we know about how these children understand their world and learn. Video-based instruction, narrative therapy and visualisation strategies can all help to improve learning outcomes for children with autism. Our knowledge of how individuals with autism spectrum disorder know and learn has increased exponentially over the last two decades. Teachers can use some of this knowledge in the classroom, and governments can use some of the emerging evidence to develop programs to help children with autism learn.

Why the Israel Folau case could set an important precedent for employment law and religious freedom

According to The Conversation, through a combination of common law rules and broadly expressed codes of conduct, employers have increasingly been able to control their workers’ private activities, including on social media. But what makes Folau’s case different is that it sets up a clash between employment contract law and legal protections against discrimination on the basis of religion. This could set an important employment law precedent for future cases like this, which is especially contentious at a time when religious freedom is being so fiercely debated in Australia. Court rulings have tended to favour employers seeking to enforce their behavioural policies and codes, including the regulation of employees’ private activities. The Folau case is an important opportunity to see whether the right to express religious views can halt the steady march of employer control in the era of social media.

Martial arts school offers free classes to children being bullied to help 'empower' them and build confidence

According to ABC News, Michael Fardell, a martial arts instructor on the New South Wales mid north coast, is offering free training to "bully-proof" children, giving them the skills and emotional strength to deal with aggressive or inappropriate behaviour. Dr Simon Rice, a Melbourne-based clinician and researcher at Orgyen, an Australian organisation focusing on mental ill-health in young people, said bullying could have a profound negative impact on young people's mental health, especially if the bullying became severe and ongoing. Dr Rice said martial arts was one positive approach. Anyone being bullied is encouraged to speak up and turn to a trusted adult for help.

Girls do better in single-sex schools – new research

According to The Educator, teenage girls do worse in their education, careers and social lives when they have more high-achieving boys in their classes, according to a new study from Cornell University in the United States. Conversely, girls achieve better results in maths and science when they have high-achieving girls in their class and are more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree. Importantly, the study noted that the greater the exposure to high-achieving boys, the greater the negative effect on girls’ self-confidence and aspirations. The higher the proportion of high-achieving boys, the lower the girls’ maths and science grades, the less likely they were to complete a bachelor’s degree, and the more likely they were to engage in risky behaviour, including teen pregnancy. On the other hand, boys were not affected by exposure to high achievers of either gender. These results are consistent with previous studies which have found that the presence of high-performing males reduces females’ completion of mathematics and/or science courses.

Andrews Government to introduce new laws allowing child abuse victims to sue for fair settlements

According to The Herald Sun, child abuse victims who signed away their legal rights for minimal support and compensation are expected to sue institutions for compensation following a landmark legal overhaul. Hundreds of child abuse victims are expected to be freed from “outrageously unfair” legal settlements under state government reforms to allow them to seek proper compensation. The Andrews Government will announce plans to lower the bar for courts to overturn deeds of release signed by child abuse victims, which were used by institutions to make victims sign away their legal rights while receiving minimal support and compensation. The landmark legal overhaul is expected to spark a flood of cases from victims, particularly those who settled with the Catholic Church under Cardinal George Pell’s controversial Melbourne Response.

Students vow to shut down Brisbane CBD with peak hour Adani protest

According to The Courier Mail, students angry at the State Government’s approval of the Adani Coal Mine have threatened to close down the centre of Brisbane in protest. Just hours after the project was given the green light, Uni Students for Climate Justice and Movement Against Destruction unveiled plans to stage a mass rally in the Brisbane CBD during afternoon peak hour on Friday, June 21. The 5pm rally will disrupt peak hour traffic as protestors march from Brisbane Square, across Victoria Bridge to the ABC headquarters, where they will demand a live cross to the demonstration by the public broadcaster to “show the people’s response” to Adani’s approvals.


Cornered: Canadian schools reach a turning point in use of seclusion rooms for children with disabilities (Canada)

According to The Globe and Mail, across Canada, some classrooms choose to isolate pupils with autism or other complex needs when they act out – sometimes with traumatic results. Now provinces, parents and educators are reviving a debate about how to balance discipline with dignity. Seclusion rooms – sometimes soundproof, sometimes small with no windows, with dim lighting, soft seating or with locks on the doors – are separate spaces used in many schools across the country to temporarily isolate children who are disruptive or show potentially dangerous behaviour. They go by different names, including time-out rooms. Alberta is moving to ban almost all isolation rooms over the next few months after reports from families of their special needs children being restrained and secluded, including a disturbing lawsuit where parents of an autistic boy allege that he was locked naked in a room at a school east of Edmonton and ended up covered in his own faeces. Elsewhere, some provincial governments have issued guidelines on physical restraints and seclusion, which are described by inclusive education advocates and parents as mere suggestions that fail to keep children safe.

Teachers' limited access to professional development could be driving students' writing attitudes south (New Zealand)

According to Stuff, student attitudes toward writing declined between Year 4 and Year 8 – boys generally slipped behind further than girls, according to a report, Keeping Children Engaged and Achieving in Writing, published by the Education Review Office. It comes as news of the country's poor literacy rates continues to make headlines. The study, over several years, implemented techniques in the classroom of 40 New Zealand schools to test what did or didn't work to progress students' learning. In schools where most children were progressing well, teachers were clear about the purpose of writing. The teachers up-skilled so they were able to use different strategies.


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