Weekly Wrap: May 14, 2020

14 May 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.



Coronavirus: Parents divided over sending children back to school

The New Daily reports that nearly one in three Australian parents will not send their children back to school when they reopen or are unsure if they will, a new survey has revealed. The national survey, conducted by Cluey Learning tutor service in Sydney, also revealed nearly half of the parents surveyed were “excited or happy” about schools reopening, 15 per cent were “anxious or nervous”, and 39 per cent had mixed feelings. The findings come as the Sunday Herald Sun reported some students in Victoria would be encouraged to head back to school in the last week of May. But getting children back to school is only the beginning of the battle. Most teachers believe students will require extra learning support to help them get back on track when classrooms reopen, a survey of more than 3500 Australian and New Zealand teachers revealed. The survey was conducted by education management company Pivot Professional Learning in early April, when more than 95 per cent of the teachers surveyed had either moved to online teaching, or were planning to do so shortly.


Coronavirus Australia: suicide’s toll far higher than virus

According to The Australian, suicide rates in Australia are forecast to rise by up to 50 per cent due to the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus and tipped to outstrip deaths from the pandemic by up to 10 times. World-leading research by the country’s top mental health experts predicts the impact of the virus could result in an extra 1500 deaths a year over the next five years and a generational mental health crisis linked directly to the pandemic. The modelling, conducted by Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre and backed by the Australian Medical Association, is expected to be taken to national cabinet this week by Health Minister Greg Hunt ahead of an accelerated second-phase mental health package. The modelling also predicts a significant economic blow from falling productivity due to the mental health effects of unemployment, school dropouts and family crises. Regions hard-hit by a collapse in tourism are expected to be particularly vulnerable to an increase in suicide and it is feared that young people are among those most at risk.


Why school-family ties have never been more important

According to The Educator, the peak body for the state’s private schools has highlighted the importance of school-family partnerships. The message comes as communities work together to transition to new learning routines and approaches in Term 2. Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and the Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network (QIS Parents Network) recently thanked the sector’s schools and its parent and carer communities for supporting each other during this challenging period. “Decades of international and national research has consistently shown this relationship has a profound impact on student achievement and wellbeing,” ISQ executive director, David Robertson, said. Robertson said private schools have not only redesigned their education programs for remote delivery, but also how they maintain wellbeing and spiritual support, where this is part of their school mission, for students and families.


Coronavirus crisis sparks calls for financial literacy to be taught as a subject in Australian high schools

The ABC News reports that young Australians need to be prepared now for the next major financial shock as the coronavirus pandemic reveals some families do not understand the long-lasting impact of the decisions they are making, experts say. Financial Basics Foundation Chair Brigid Leishman said hundreds of thousands of Australians have been plunged into financial distress since the COVID-19 outbreak and a lack of personal finance knowledge made them vulnerable to more hardship. Ms Leishman said personal finance should be a standalone subject in high schools to give young people a formal financial education. The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey found young people under the age of 25 are the least financially literate. In a statement, ASIC [Australian Securities and Investments Commission] said consumer and financial literacy was a capability rather than a discrete subject. It said it continued to work with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to explore ways to elevate financial literacy in the national curriculum.


ASIC establishes a national expert group on young people and money

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) financial literacy results. The survey measures how well 15-year-olds understand commonly used financial concepts and how capable they are at solving routine problems in financial contexts. Young people are learning about money at school and financial education is embedded in the Australian Curriculum. While schools will continue to play a meaningful role in delivering financial education, lessons young Australians learn outside of the school environment are even more important in shaping the behaviours that contribute to their financial wellbeing. In 2020, ASIC will establish a national expert group on youth financial wellbeing to help identify the most relevant and significant issues impacting young people’s financial lives and shape work in this area.


Coronavirus pandemic leaves Canberra's usually busy school excursion industry moribund

The ABC News reports that everyone remembers their school excursion to Canberra — a rite of passage for schoolchildren and a $130-million-a-year money-spinner for the ACT. But students have not seen the hallowed halls of Parliament or the robots at Questacon in close to two months. Gary Watson, from the National Capital Educational Tourism Project, estimates that, as a result of coronavirus and the summer bushfires, the industry will have lost 60,000 student visitors by the end of June. Many schools have postponed rather than cancelled trips, which is providing some relief. But that still will not replace the 15 to 20 busloads of children that normally converge daily on Parliament House, Mr Watson said. Canberra has about 20 purpose-built accommodation sites that cater to school groups, and most of them have shut up shop. Canberra's cultural institutions, which target schoolchildren's visits, have redeployed education staff to other areas.


“We’re exhausted”: teachers overwhelmed by online transition

According to The Educator, a major survey of 3,500 teachers from all sectors from Australia and New Zealand reveals a lack of confidence in meeting students’ learning needs online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report by education researchers at Pivot Professional Learning, in partnership with Education Perfect (EP), collected and analysed how teachers have been coping during the unprecedented transition to online learning. Almost half of the respondents were not confident in their ability to meet student learning needs online, with one teacher saying: “It is like being a beginner teacher all over again, as you don't know what works or doesn't work well”. Teachers also reported significant increases in demands on their time, with 70 per cent saying planning time had increased either “slightly” or “significantly.” Responses included references to an “exponential” workload increase. One wrote: “We’re exhausted”.


Forty per cent of Australian principals are victims of physical violence

According to an article in The Conversation, the latest yearly report on the well-being of Australian principals provides a sobering picture of harassment, violence, burnout and mental-health concerns. More than 2,000 Australian principals participated in the 2019 survey. Over the last nine years of the surveys, a growing percentage of school principals have been exposed to behaviours such as bullying, physical violence, gossip and slander, sexual harassment, threats of violence and verbal harassment. In 2017, Victoria was the first state to implement substantial changes to work practices consistent with the recommendations from the survey. Victoria now has the lowest number of principal reports of self-harm, poor quality of life and poor occupational health. Victorian principals also reported the highest level of job satisfaction. The Northern Territory also implemented substantial, evidence-based changes to their system in 2019 in line with the authors’ recommendations. And Queensland will put in place similar solutions this year.


School leadership: Using evidence to manage change in a pandemic

An article in Teacher asks how can schools implement change effectively and efficiently, to support student learning in such unprecedented times? Given the nature of the challenge schools are facing, there are likely to be hurdles to any implementation process, no matter how well planned. Effective planning, through an evidence-based implementation process, will allow your school the space to consider the foreseeable challenges, providing greater flexibility in responding to the current circumstances. While schools work quickly to respond, thoughtful preparation is key – as evidence shows, programs that are implemented effectively improve student outcomes significantly more than those implemented with less fidelity. When helping teachers, students and parents to effectively implement home-supported learning one of the crucial elements is having a clear school plan that will assist in building a shared understanding for all involved.


Survivors of child sexual abuse taking Education Department to court for negligence

The ABC News reports that Sam Leishman was only 12 years old when sexual abuse began at the hands of his teacher at New Town High School in Hobart in 1978. Darrel George Harington, 68, has since been jailed for the sexual abuse of boys in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Documents from the Department of Education showed numerous complaints were made about Harington and he was moved from school to school, even being transferred to a girls school to limit the risk of him continuing to offend. Lawyer Sebastian Buscemi, of Angela Sdrinis Legal, is representing Mr Leishman and at least one other survivor of Harington's abuse in suing the state for negligence. Mandatory reporting was introduced in Tasmania in the late 1970s. He said records indicate that Harington taught right up until 2002. It is alleged Tasmania's Education Department protected up to 10 child-molesting teachers. Mr Buscemi is preparing civil claims by at least seven survivors of abuse to be lodged in the Supreme Court.


Why George Pell likely won't face charges over Royal Commission findings

The ABC News reports that in a statement released last Thursday, Cardinal Pell said that he was surprised at some of the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and that they were not supported by the evidence. It is unlikely authorities could pursue Cardinal Pell, according to legal expert Keiran Tapsell, a former acting NSW district judge and solicitor who has also written a book on canon law. Laws around mandatory reporting of child sex abuse for clergy weren't brought in in Victoria until 2014, and the laws don't apply retrospectively. Before 1981, Victoria had "misprision of felony" legislation, which made it a crime not to report a serious offence to the police. That meant anyone who concealed information about a crime that occurred before 1981 could theoretically be charged by police, but there would be almost insurmountable hurdles to pass in practice, Mr Tapsell said. Victoria Police, however, is not completely ruling out the possibility of investigating the Cardinal. In a statement, it told the ABC it would "receive a copy of the redacted [Royal Commission] findings and will then undertake an assessment of those findings".



Education faces “reckoning” unless needs of students met – study (Global)

The Educator reports that a new report has warned that education systems worldwide face a “reckoning” unless the needs of students and societies are met. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, titled: “New schools of thought: Innovative models for delivering higher education”, was commissioned by the Qatar Foundation (QF), a non-profit organisation made up of more than 50 entities working in education, research, and community development. The key message from the report was that education systems must challenge their assumptions in the post-COVID-19 world in order to overcome challenges and survive into the 21st Century. Education thought-leaders from three continents explored the study’s findings and exchanged their views on education’s future in an online panel discussion, Higher Education in a Post-COVID-19 World, hosted by the EIU and sponsored by QF.


Families sue UK government over “little or no education” for their children (United Kingdom)

The Guardian reports that four families who say their children have received “little or no” education since schools in England were closed to most pupils have started legal action against the government. Lawyers acting for the families say their intention is to sue the government over its failure to ensure access to the online learning that has largely replaced classroom teaching since March, because the four are unable to afford laptops or internet connections. Teachers in England report pupils having to share laptops or tablets with family members, including with parents working from home. Many schools have distributed or bought their own devices to give to their pupils. Researchers at the London School of Economics have said the school closures could open a “chasm” between the education of low-income children and those from better-off families.


Routine vaccinations for US children have plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic (United States)

According to STAT, routine vaccination of children in the United States appeared to have declined dramatically in March and April, in the weeks after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and the United States government declared a national emergency, a new study published last Friday shows.  The authors, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions, used vaccine ordering data from paediatricians who administer vaccines through the Vaccines for Children Program, which provides government-purchased vaccines to about half of the children in the United States. The findings suggest childhood vaccination efforts nearly ground to a halt between March 13 — when the national emergency was declared — and April 19. Doctors and public health experts have worried that a vast number of regular health care needs — including preventive care interventions like vaccinations — have gone unmet in the past few months as people shy away from interacting with a health system that has, at least in some places, been overwhelmed by caring for COVID-19 patients.

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