Weekly Wrap: March 14, 2019

15 March 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.


Armidale bishop directs Catholic schools to stop asking priests for working-with-children checks

According to The Guardian, a bishop has written to the director of a Catholic Schools Office that oversees 24 schools asking that principals be directed to stop asking priests for their working-with-children checks. The bishop of Armidale, Michael Kennedy, wrote: “It has been brought to my attention that some schools may be requiring that the priests who are ex officio members of the School Advisory Council provide their working-with-children check details.” He wrote that the diocese verified and recorded these checks and that schools should accept that all priests were required by the diocese to have a working-with-children check and therefore did not need to ask the priests for those details.

Enrolments in Catholic schools fall as independent schools grow

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, enrolments in Australia's Catholic schools have fallen for the second year in a row, while the number of students attending government and independent schools grows, new figures show. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data comes as the Coalition's election pledge to triple its annual spending on building classrooms for non-government schools shapes as the most divisive education pledge of the New South Wales election campaign so far. After recording their first fall in more than 10 years in 2017, Catholic school enrolments across Australia again dropped by almost 1000 students last year. Independent enrolments grew, while government schools also continued an upward trend. In the five years to 2018, Catholic schools' national enrolment share across the country dropped by almost one percentage point.

New disability employment toolkit to assist schools

According to The Educator, the Federal Government launched a comprehensive online toolkit to help employers hire people with disability and build their organisation’s disability confidence and competence. The Employer Toolkit benefits schools by making hiring processes more inclusive and helping principals access a huge, untapped pool of talent. New research shows that while 79 per cent of Australian employers in the education sector are open to hiring people with disability, only 58 per cent are doing so. The Employer Toolkit is an online resource to guide employers through the entire process of employing people with disability, using simple, straightforward videos, downloadable resources and highlighting real-life case studies.

Catholic newspaper article describing George Pell's “accusers” as “wicked” pulled from circulation

According to ABC News, a Tasmanian academic who wrote an opinion piece defending Cardinal George Pell and describing his "accusers" as "wicked" has apologised for the article, which the Catholic Church has since pulled. The director of Hobart's Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, David Daintree, wrote the article in this month's edition of the Catholic Standard, which was to be distributed this weekend. At least one church in Hobart had already received the publication before the opinion piece was pulled. "I know Cardinal Pell well. I like him and respect him. I simply cannot believe that he is guilty, " Dr Daintree wrote in the piece. "Pell is a tough man and he will, by the grace of God, survive the wickedness of his accusers and the silence of many who should defend him but won't." The Archdiocese of Hobart said a decision was taken to "immediately" withdraw the publication from distribution after concerns were raised about the op-ed.

Australian girls schools turn to US expert on transgender support

According to The Herald Sun, girls’ schools navigating a multi-gender world have enlisted a US expert to advise them on how to support transgender students. The Alliance of Girls’ Schools of Australasia, representing 175 schools and 132,000 female students, is hosting international psychotherapist and transgender specialist Julie Mencher to lead workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland next week. Ms Mencher will present the workshop “Single-sex schools in a multi-gender world: How can girls’ schools be better equipped?” to help schools better understand the changing gender landscape and how to support gender nonconforming students.

Australians more reluctant to pay tax for basic health, education services

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Australians are becoming more reluctant to pay tax for schools, health and aged care services as costs of living rise and strained households shovel away cash. The number of people wanting to pay more tax for education has collapsed since 2017, down by over 12 percentage points to 34.2 per cent while the number willing to contribute more for better health and aged care services has fallen by six points to 48.9 per cent. The only area in which there has been a rise in the number of people willing to pay more tax is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which increased two percentage points on last year’s figure of 21.7 per cent.

How tech can help schools lift student wellbeing

According to The Educator, a new report reveals what educators and schools worldwide are doing to enhance students’ skills and wellbeing, as well as to understand the role that technology can play in improving teaching and learning outcomes. Microsoft worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to survey more than 760 educators in 15 countries. Leading experts were interviewed, and more than 90 pieces of research were reviewed. According to the survey, 80 per cent of educators believe that wellbeing is critical for academic success, for developing foundational literacies and for cultivating strong communication skills, and 70 per cent of educators say wellbeing has grown in importance for K-12 students during their careers. However, school systems have not moved as quickly as educators to prioritise wellbeing, with just 53 per cent of educators saying their schools have a formal policy in place to support students’ wellbeing.

Greater literacy support needed in NSW schools – report

According to The Educator, decades of neglect are causing NSW schools to fail to meet the language and literacy needs of young Australians from refugee and migrant backgrounds, a new report shows. The report on the state of specialist English language provision in NSW was submitted to the Federal Government and Opposition by an alliance of concerned university, community and teacher organisation across the state. They include the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ATESOL) and the NSW Migrant and Refugee Education Working Party, who are all calling for greater support. The findings of the report show that successive NSW Governments are failing to meet the English language and literacy learning needs each year of up to 50,000 from migrant and refugee students enrolled in the state’s culturally and linguistically diverse schools.

Overhaul to bar sub-par students from teaching

According to The Herald Sun, poorly performing students would be barred from teaching courses under a government crackdown on Victorian universities. An overhaul of university admissions would make it more difficult for aspiring teachers to gain entry. A strict limit on special consideration and tests for transferring students are among a series of proposed changes. The crackdown comes after a VIT investigation into low ATARs of teaching students, which was prompted by a Herald Sun report, that found pupils were gaining entry to university courses despite shocking academic results.

Principals get the nod to deploy drug-sniffing dogs

According to The Educator, drug-sniffing dogs could soon be deployed to South Australian schools to detect illicit drugs under new protocols being developed by the state’s education department and police. When implemented, this will allow the state’s high school principals to “proactively invite” Passive Alert Drug Detection (PADD) dogs on to school grounds. Private schools can also opt in to the program. SA Minister for Police, Corey Wingard, said the South Australian Government had a “zero-tolerance” attitude towards illicit drugs. “Illegal drugs have no place in our society, and in particular no place anywhere near our vulnerable children,” Minister Wingard said. “These new measures send a clear message to anybody who thinks they can bring drugs into our schools that they will be caught, and they will face the consequences.”

First carbon neutral public school for Canberra

According to an ACT Government media release, Canberra’s newest public school, the Margaret Hendry School, will be the first ACT public school to produce zero emissions in its operation. The ACT Government’s dedication to carbon emission reduction through investment in renewable energy will see 100 per cent of the ACT’s electricity sourced from renewable electricity by 2020. The Margaret Hendry School will be the first ACT school that sources its energy requirements from electricity alone. The inclusion of technologies that maximise the efficient use of electricity in addition to the use of onsite generation of renewable energy showcases how sustainable design principles can achieve cost and energy efficient schools to support the ACT’s target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.


(US) Climate change sceptics push to ban teaching global warming facts

According to news.com.au, a growing number of politicians in the US are trying to introduce laws that would allow teachers to dismiss the scientific consensus that global warming is man-made. In Connecticut, a politician wants to strike climate change from state science standards. Meanwhile in Virginia, a legislator worries teachers are indoctrinating students with their personal views on global warming. Also an Oklahoma state senator wants educators to be able to introduce alternative ideas without fear of losing their jobs.

(NZ) Students who strike for climate change will be marked as truants, principals say

According to stuff.co.nz, schools are threatening to mark students as truants if they strike for climate change, with one principal calling it "wagging" that won't make a difference. Thousands of students plan to strike across New Zealand next week as part of a global campaign urging politicians to treat climate change as a crisis, and act now to protect students' futures from its effects. Christchurch strike organiser Lucy Gray, 12, said that students were striking for their future. "Teachers, they strike all the time to get what they want and that's just money. We want our future; I think that should be allowed."

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