Weekly Wrap: June 30, 2020

02 July 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.



“Harsh sanctions”: The organisation refusing to join the child abuse redress scheme

The New Daily reports that organisations that do not sign up to the national redress scheme for survivors of childhood sexual abuse will be “named and shamed” and suffer heavy consequences, the Federal Government has warned. Pressure is mounting on the 45 organisations named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse who have not joined the scheme. There are 19 organisations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are yet to flag an intention to join. More than 700 survivors of childhood sexual abuse have applied for compensation through the National Redress Scheme, but are stuck in limbo because organisations have not signed up or have disbanded. Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told The New Daily that she would announce harsh sanctions on 1 July for organisations who do not join. Among the big-stick approaches, Minister Ruston may consider stripping organisations of their charitable status. The Victorian government has already flagged it would stop funding organisations that did not sign up.


Tehan tells concerned school leavers that uni fee shake-up is fair

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Education Minister Dan Tehan has told upcoming school leavers aggrieved about sudden fee hikes for their chosen university degrees that the new system will be fairer and still majority-funded by taxpayers who have mostly not benefited from a university education. The fee overhaul, which has increased fees for some courses while dropping the cost of "job-relevant" degrees, will be in place from next year and has triggered concerns for school students who have picked year 11 and 12 subjects based on the degrees they have committed to. Responding to the complaints, Mr Tehan said Australia was facing the greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression and the government wanted students to think about choosing university subjects that would boost their employment prospects. Mr Tehan said the funding system would be fairer because the government was matching government and student contributions to universities with the actual cost of teaching courses.


Updated Guidelines for schools in 2021

The VRQA has announced Updated Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration commence for:

  • new school registrations on 1 January 2021
  • existing registered schools on 1 July 2021.

The VRQA updated the Guidelines to incorporate amendments to the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 which now allow schools to use money, other than government funding, and space within their property to conduct an early learning centre that is a feeder for school enrolments. The updated Guidelines explain the evidence required for schools operating or intending to operate an early learning centre. The VRQA will work with schools in the lead-up to 1 July 2021, to help them understand the new requirements. The VRQA updated the Guidelines in consultation with Independent Schools Victoria, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, the Department of Education and Training and other school systems.


Changes for RTOs seeking re-registration

The VRQA has changed its RTO [Registered Training Organisation] re-registration process.  This is an interim process in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There are two key points RTOs seeking re-registration should note:

  • The VRQA is conducting re-registration audits remotely through a process called desktop audits. Where necessary, we may follow up with on-site validation.
  • The VRQA has granted a six-month extension for RTO registrations that expire in 2020.


New Education and Children’s Services Act live in South Australia from July 1 2020

The Sector reports that South Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) services will soon operate under new legislative measures, following the Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 (the Act), which passed Parliament on 1 August 2019, and which will replace the Education Act 1972 and the Children Service’s Act 1985 effective 1 July 2020. An underpinning series of regulations that support the Act, the Education and Children’s Services Regulations 2020 were developed based on feedback received from YourSAy’s public consultation and will also commence 1 July 2020. A strong focus in both the Act and the regulations is on parent, caregiver and community involvement in educating and developing children and students, while acknowledging the efforts of all teachers and educators. Although the Act largely deals with government schools, preschools and children’s services, some elements apply to non-government schools and providers of approved learning programs, such as early learning centres (ELCs) run in non-government school settings.


Royal Flying Headspace program giving mental health support to remote outback schools in Australia

SBS News reports that an initiative between the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the youth mental health service Headspace is delivering support to some of the most remote outback schools in the country. The program is a recent partnership between the national youth mental health service Headspace and the RFDS and is providing opportunities students would otherwise miss out on. For Headspace Youth Engagement Officer Hannah Whetham, who works with the students teaching group programs such as mindfulness and breathing exercises, as well as providing one-on-one support, working in remote parts of the country is a unique environment. The program was briefly halted for several months during the coronavirus lockdown, with services moving online to telehealth. This week face-to-face services and visits from mental health clinicians travelling by plane resumed. The concept for the service came from the Country South Australian Primary Health Network.


Yes, we’ve seen schools close. But the evidence still shows kids are unlikely to catch or spread coronavirus

According to an article in The Conversation, some cases in young children, which follow a handful of positive cases in teenage students in Sydney and Melbourne may be prompting some to wonder whether it’s time to rethink reopening schools after lockdown. The short answer is: no. The research still suggests that, while children can be infected with COVID-19, it is uncommon. They also don’t seem to pass the disease on as efficiently as adults do, and cases of child-to-child infection are uncommon. And when children do get infected, they don’t seem to get very sick. The temporary closure of schools (and at least one childcare centre) is evidence that the system is working as it should — cases are being identified, contact tracing and deep cleans are underway and every effort is made to limit the spread. Older children in high school start to have similar risk to adults, although the risk of complications is still substantially lower than in the elderly. Importantly, kids in this age group are more able to physically distance and adhere to personal hygiene measures than primary school-aged kids.


Teachers not supported to help kids in need – UN report

The Educator reports that the latest United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report on inclusion in education has found that Australian teachers are not sufficiently supported to deliver inclusive education to students with disability. The global report into progress on UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal for education found that more investment is required into professional development and training for Australian teachers to improve inclusive education for students with disability and to reduce student exclusion. The 2020 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report said up to one third of principals receive no instructional leadership training, and that teachers in Australia reported that they “lacked training on implementing differentiated teaching and adjustments”. Responding to the report, Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president Correna Haythorpe said funding must be allocated more equitably for students with disability, to accurately reflect the needs of these students in public schools.


How strong teacher-student relationships pay off in future

The Educator reports that a growing body of research has shown the vast benefits of strong student-teacher relationships. One study published in 2019 found that every additional positive relationship with a teacher is associated with greater engagement from the student. Now new research from Macquarie University and the Queensland University of Technology shows that teacher-student relationships can shape a student’s attitude to school for years to come. The study by Associate Professors Penny Van Bergen and Naomi Sweller of Macquarie University and Professor Linda Graham of QUT found that students’ memories of good teachers are remarkably consistent, and that strong teacher-student relationships can support positive interactions with future teachers. The research team conducted a series of interviews with 96 students from grades 3-10. For students with a history of disruptive behaviour, a kind or caring teacher could make the difference between engaging with their schoolwork and walking out of class.


Kids don’t like being told by schools what they should be eating, new study finds

The Herald Sun reports that parents and kids don’t like being told by schools what they should be eating, what’s healthy and what should go in lunchboxes. A new study has found they reject school messages about healthy eating as irrelevant, negative and inconsistent with their family life. They don’t like their lunchboxes being monitored, think it’s sad that kids don’t share food unless they have allergies and don’t see items as good and bad. Instead, families see food as communal, pleasurable and fun, and have a much more pragmatic view of what’s “healthy” and “unhealthy”. Lead author JaneMaree Maher from Monash University interviewed children and parents from 50 Victorian families about the information about food taught in schools. “Generally, children and parents felt school food messages are unclear, contradictory and not relevant to them,” she said. This includes instruction about what to put in their child’s lunchbox.


Adelaide nurse administered wrong vaccines to children and doctored records, tribunal finds

The ABC News reports that children were left unprotected from deadly diseases after a nurse administered the wrong vaccines and altered records to cover her tracks, South Australia's Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found. The tribunal found Ms Tracy Paterson's actions amounted to serious professional misconduct and banned her from providing any health service for 15 years. Ms Paterson, who was known at the clinic as Tracy Gray, administered a child with the IPV vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio in January 2015. She informed the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) that the vaccine had been given, but incorrectly stated on clinic records the vaccine given was MMR for measles, mumps and rubella. When questioned about the discrepancy, Ms Paterson "falsified the records to cover up her own mistake". "If the falsification had not been discovered, the child would have remained unprotected against the diseases that the MMR guards against," the judgement said. "The child's parents would have been deceived into thinking that the child was properly immunised when that was not the case."



Better Student Support but 72 per cent of Primary Principals Think Too Much is Being Asked of Schools (New Zealand)

Scoop reports that results from NZCER’s [New Zealand Council for Educational Research] latest three-yearly National Survey of English-medium primary schools show that more attention is being paid to improving the school experiences and outcomes for Māori students, Pacific students, and students with disability or learning support needs in 2019 compared with 2016. Some positive shifts in how schools support student wellbeing are also evident, and teachers and schools are more alert to students’ mental health needs. Parents’ views of their child’s school experience and learning remain positive. “There are some really positive changes occurring in primary schools”, Dr Cathy Wylie, Chief Researcher, said. “However, the survey findings also point to the need for schools to have more support”. Seventy-two per cent of principals say too much is being asked of schools, up from 53 per cent in 2016, and 42 per cent in 2013. Although the survey response rate was relatively low, the responses came from a broadly representative spread in terms of school characteristics.


New 2020 GEM Report shows inclusion has never been as relevant as countries count the education cost of COVID-19 (Global)

According to the World Global Education Blog, the 2020 GEM Report on inclusion and education, All means all, was launched on Monday last week at an online event featuring an interactive high-level panel and clips of videos and animations of its key messages and recommendations. This year’s report shows that, all over the world, layers of discrimination on the basis of gender, remoteness, wealth, disability, ethnicity, language, migration, displacement, incarceration, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion and other beliefs and attitudes deny students the right to be educated with their peers or to receive education of the same quality. It identifies an exacerbation of exclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic estimating that about 40 per cent of low and lower-middle income countries have not supported disadvantaged learners during school shutdown. It calls for countries to focus on those left behind as schools reopen so as to foster more resilient and equal societies.


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