Weekly Wrap: June 6, 2019

06 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.


Some wannabe teachers failing in literacy tests

According to The Australian, one in 10 teaching students is failing Year 9-standard literacy and numeracy tests and new figures reveal that academic standards have slipped for a third year running. The results from the 2018 Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students, revealed that 9.6 per cent of participants did not meet the required­ standard for literacy and 10 per cent did not meet the stand­ard for numeracy. The proportion of those who passed the test, LANTITE, was lower than in 2017, when 92 per cent met the literacy and numeracy standard, and in 2016, when the pass rate was as high as 95 per cent. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan yesterday defended the latest results, suggesting that the test was working as intended by ensuring that graduate teachers had a high level of the essential skills needed to teach children. Mr Tehan has ruled out introducing minimum ATARs for entry into teaching degrees.

If your kid is bullied and hurt on school grounds, can you sue the school?

According to The Conversation, the Victorian state government was recently reported to be investigating whether it could make it easier for bullying victims to sue schools. Schools have a legal obligation to address bullying behaviour of pupils and provide support for both the victim and the perpetrator. State lawmakers are now further addressing different forms of bullying. For example, the Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Act 2011 (Vic) focuses on stalking and other behaviour designed to threaten or cause physical or mental harm, and the proposed Statutes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2017 (SA) criminalises bullying behaviour including threatening, degrading, humiliating, disgracing or harassing another person face to face or online. There is no reason any of these laws would not apply within schools. Can a school be sued for the harm caused to a student? The New South Wales courts have said yes. In three notable cases, former students received compensation by proving the school was negligent due to its inaction.

“Significant advantage”: some students had spellcheck during NAPLAN

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, some students doing NAPLAN tests on MacBook Pro devices had access to spellcheck and auto-complete functions, including during the writing test. In a number of cases during this year's tests, students were able to use the functions, according to multiple parents who have contacted the Herald since NAPLAN took place earlier this month. It is understood many schools have reported the issue to testing authorities but others that had students experiencing the same advantage have not. ACARA's advice for schools on "device issues" provides separate lists of features for Windows PC, Windows touch screen devices, Apple macOS, iPads, Android devices and chromebooks that would not be automatically turned off once a student was within the NAPLAN 'lockdown' browser, instead requiring schools to either manually disable each feature or, where this is not possible, monitor it during the test. President of the NSW Teachers Federation Maurie Mulheron said the instructions were "totally unreasonable", especially with bring-your-own-device policies.

Victorian Budget Invests $402 Million in Capital Works for Non-Government Schools

Independent Schools Victoria’s Weekly Briefing reports that The Victorian Budget 2019/20 has allocated $2.8 billion to schools, including more than $400 million for infrastructure at non-government schools, and $1 billion to early childhood education. The provision of capital works funding for non-government schools fulfils a promise made before the Victorian election (see Weekly Briefing 27 /2018). When the announcement was made, Independent Schools Victoria Chief Executive, Ms Michelle Green said that the funding would ensure that independent schools could help ‘meet student demand in growth areas, as well as supporting existing schools to upgrade their facilities’.

Meditation hailed as important tool for teaching kids to cope with stress and anxiety

According to ABC News, it might be a far cry from maths and science, but teaching children to de-stress has become such a valuable tool for some Australian teachers that they are arguing meditation, or mindfulness, should be part of the national curriculum. The Queensland Education Department said that about one in seven people aged from four to 17 experience a mental health issue every year across the country. A report from Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute found up to one in four could be at risk. Teachers at Brighton State School on Brisbane's bayside are among a growing number of educators embedding meditation into their daily lesson plans to help children deal with their emotions and improve focus and behaviour. For now, the practice remains optional for teachers, but it has received some backing from the federal Health Department. In the 2019 budget, $2.5 million was pledged towards the school-based mindfulness program Smiling Mind as part of the Federal Government's mental health and suicide prevention plan.

Abused kids could be 'slipping through the cracks' under bureaucracy

According to the Brisbane Times, abused children could be "slipping through the cracks" as child safety information in Queensland is still not being managed properly, despite an auditor-general report pointing out systematic flaws four years ago. It was the slow wheels of government bureaucracy that stopped an abused eight-year-old from being saved from her mother - who beat her to death with a vacuum-cleaner metal-pole attachment in 2014. The coroner found that there had been a lack of communication and information sharing between the child’s school, child protection services, Centrelink, and ACT for Kids – an organisation devoted to preventing child abuse by working with families referred by the department. A year later, Queensland’s auditor-general warned that the child safety department was failing to strike the right balance between security and availability of data. The auditor-general handed the government six recommendations to ensure sensitive information could be readily available in emergencies, while retaining strict security around the data. The Palaszczuk Government has implemented just one of those recommendations in four years, a follow-up report released on Thursday has found.

Research raises fears new teachers are not adequately sun savvy

The West Australian reports that pre-service teachers about to enter WA primary schools do not have the knowledge to protect children from harmful UV rays, according to research. A survey of 260 pre-service primary school teachers in their second and fourth years at Edith Cowan University found almost 60 per cent did not feel they had enough knowledge to properly teach sun safety. Only 55.6 per cent understood the UV index, with almost 30 per cent saying they never checked it. SunSmart schools programs co-ordinator Sally Bane said the figures were concerning. “One of the main misconceptions around UV is that it’s the same as heat, which is completely untrue,” she said. Lead study author Joseph Scott said sun protection was especially vital for children, whose classroom activities often coincided with high UV levels and whose thinner, more sensitive skin was more susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.

'Folau's law': Coalition MPs push for bolder action in a 'new dawn' for religious freedom

According to The Age, conservative Coalition MPs emboldened by strong support from religious voters at the election are pushing the Morrison government for more radical and far-reaching religious freedom provisions in forthcoming laws. Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce wants laws to exempt religious beliefs from employment contracts - in effect giving legal protection to views such as those expressed on social media by rugby star Israel Folau that gay people and fornicators will go to hell. Attorney-General Christian Porter is expected to present a Religious Discrimination Act to the Parliament as soon as July, acting on a pre-election commitment to boost protections for people of faith against discrimination and vilification. But some Coalition MPs believe the election results - including significant swings away from Labor in highly religious seats - underline the case for bolder reforms to enshrine freedoms other than freedom from discrimination. New Labor leader Anthony Albanese acknowledged his party needed to show greater "respect" to religious views after frontbenchers Chris Bowen and Tony Burke publicly lamented that people of faith had lost trust in Labor and progressive politics.

What shifting parental expectations mean for schools

The Educator reports that schools need to more deliberately engage parents in their philosophy and values and in their child’s learning to counter a developing societal mindset that education can be rated and reviewed like any other lifestyle purchase, according to demographer Bernard Salt. He says years of prosperity had created a culture of parental expectation. “It can be very difficult to manage parental expectations in that situation when they regard an outsourced service as something to be critiqued and expect the perfect product to be delivered at the end of Year 12,” he said. The prominent demographer will share his insights into generational shifts in the school-home partnership and projected changes in the profile of Queensland parents at the Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) biennial State Forum at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Let’s make it mandatory to teach respectful relationships in every Australian school

An article in The Conversation says that media reports of findings from the latest National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey caused a stir in recent days, with some highlighting the importance of education programs to teach young people about gender-based violence. The survey of young people, aged 16-24, revealed some concerning findings. Nearly one-quarter of respondents agreed that women tend to exaggerate the problem of male violence. Schools play a significant role in educating young people about gender-based violence and helping change the underlying attitudes that lead to it. The Victorian government began a rollout of respectful relationships education in primary and secondary schools in 2016. This is a whole-of-school program that aims not only to develop students’ gender awareness and respect but also to transform school cultures to be more gender-inclusive. An evaluation of the program in secondary schools found positive results. Social and moral learning is embedded in the Melbourne Declaration, a 2008 document that sets out the agreed national goals of schooling. These values are also embedded in national and state curricula.


(United States) School children who nap are happier, excel academically, and have fewer behavioural problems

According to ScienceDaily, ask just about any parent whether napping has benefits and you'll likely hear a resounding "yes," particularly for the child's mood, energy levels, and school performance. New research from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine, published in the journal SLEEP backs up that parental insight. A study of nearly 3,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders ages 10-12 revealed a connection between midday napping and greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioural problems; and higher IQ, the latter particularly for the sixth graders. The most robust findings were associated with academic achievement, says Penn neurocriminologist Adrian Raine, a co-author on the paper. The researchers say they hope the results of this current study can inform future interventional work that targets adolescent sleepiness. Funding for the work came from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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