Weekly Wrap: May 30, 2019

30 May 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.


Principals react to federal election result

The Educator reports that the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) congratulated the Coalition on retaining government. AHISA CEO, Beth Blackwood, said that prior to the election the Government had negotiated successfully with state and territory governments and the non-government sector to establish long-term federal recurrent funding arrangements for schools and had agreed a national road map for school education policy under the National School Reform Agreement. Blackwood said, "Schools with a religious affiliation – which account for around a third of total student enrolments in Australia – have the added assurance under a Morrison government that religious freedoms will be valued and respected.” Following the result, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (NSWSPC) called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to revisit the issue of education funding. Australian Catholic Primary Principals (ACPP) president, Brad Gaynor, pointed to "speculation and discussion" around fair and equitable funding for students in non-government schools. Dr David Roy from the University of Newcastle, who works closely with governments and disability advocacy groups, said it is unlikely that much change to education will be seen now that the Coalition has retained government.

Critics not justified by scale of NAPLAN issues

According to the Financial Review, the organisation responsible for NAPLAN has pushed back against critics of this year's test, saying that only 30,000 students will resit the exam this week, which is well less than 5 per cent of the total number who did the exams online. Critics labelled internet connection issues "a debacle" and "a farce" for NAPLAN and said the whole test should be reconsidered. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) said that testing connectivity impacted students on day one. On subsequent days, connections were not disrupted. Former chairman of ACARA professor Barry McGaw said on Sunday it was wrong to question the whole idea of NAPLAN just because some schools didn't have enough bandwidth to access the system. The Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, who was returned to the portfolio in the new Cabinet on Sunday, is a strong advocate for NAPLAN and put the test at the centre of last year's National School Reform Agreement, which all states signed up to.

New website to teach students how to be digital citizens

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, families can read about the learning benefits of online gaming, how technology can improve physical health and tips for making online chat safe from a new “digital citizenship” website for students, parents and teachers. New South Wales Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, said the site was designed to empower young people to be responsible online, and to help students be aware of their safety in the cyber world. “The new digital citizenship website will equip students, teachers and parents in NSW with the skills and knowledge to minimise the risks associated with online engagement, whilst maximising the opportunities of our digital future,” Ms Mitchell said. Students can read articles on protecting passwords, gaming safely, and coping with the emotional pressures of the online environment, while parents can read about managing screen time and teachers can learn about online collaboration.

Parents fear for kids’ online safety

According to the Herald Sun, nearly one in three Australian children has had a bad experience with a stranger online, a new survey reveals. But in many cases, it’s a one-off and the kids are confident their parents will help, according to a new report from the eSafety Commissioner. The Parenting in the Digital Age report says parents give children as young as six their freedom online, while children aged two to five are more often supervised. The snapshot of 3068 Australian parents of children aged two to 17 shows 31 per cent of children are bullied or abused online by a classmate, 22 per cent by a friend and 28 per cent by a stranger.

Opinion: Should schools put CCTV cameras in classrooms?

An article in The Educator notes that, increasingly, there has been concern from all education stakeholders about the safety of all individuals in schools. Allegations of staff being targeted with violence and bullying by children and parents and colleagues and allegations of children being targeted with violence and bullying by staff as well as other children. When CCTV cameras were introduced to a high school in Sydney, there was a noted 70 per cent drop in bullying. Teachers in a primary school were immediately suspended when recordings of their bullying and assault on young children were released to the media. Despite the many concerns over video technology in schools, this is a potential tool that needs to be looked at through the prism of health and safety, as well as potential pedagogical benefits. CCTV is already in place in many schools in playgrounds and reception areas. It is estimated that 85 per cent of UK schools have CCTV in use. The larger question is whether CCTV is appropriate in the classroom.

Are media reports straining school-parent relationships?

According to The Educator, the most recent national survey into principal health and wellbeing – which collected data from about 50 per cent of Australia’s 10,000 principals – found almost half (45 per cent) were threatened with violence in 2018, compared with 38 per cent in 2011. According to the damning report, adult-adult bullying is also on the rise, from 34 per cent in 2017 to 35 per cent in 2018 (around four times higher than the general population). Parents were involved in about 5 per cent of violent incidents against staff in schools. The Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) said the way the issue has been portrayed in the media has done nothing to help the situation. ACSSO president, Kevan Goodworth said ACSSO’s parent organisations would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with principal and teacher organisations, as well as education departments and other education authorities to improve family engagement.

Victorian Government to Sign Up to “Only Deal on the Table”

According to Independent Schools Victoria Weekly Briefing, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has indicated that the state will sign up for the Australian Government’s ‘Gonski 2’ school funding package as the deal seems to be “the only one on the table”. The Age reported that Mr Andrews told the media Victoria was faced with a “clear choice” – either receive no funding from the Australian Government for schools, or “sign on to a deal that we don’t think is a good deal”. The Age reported that Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan said that the government’s deal provided Victorian schools with funding certainty. Independent Schools Victoria Chief Executive, Ms Michelle Green, had earlier encouraged the two governments to come to a prompt agreement on school funding, saying that any failure to come to terms would have “serious implications” for Independent schools.

Too many Victorian schoolgirls forced into dresses, skirts, group says

According to the Herald Sun, more than 30 private girls’ schools in Victoria have been given a fail mark by a group campaigning for pants and shorts to be part of official uniforms. Girls’ Uniform Agenda said all government girls’ schools were top of the class, while 31 private, independent and Catholic schools needed to do more work. Girls’ Uniform Agenda — a national group arguing that girls are being short-changed because of traditional and often rigid uniform policies which prevent them from wearing pants and shorts — has been involved in a number of success stories. But the group said much more needed to be done with an analysis of school uniform policies showing that many schools had put the issue in the ‘too hard basket’. Girls’ Uniform Agenda Victorian representative Ms Simone Cariss said that the group had received legal advice that in Victoria, failure to provide pants and shorts options contravened discrimination laws.

Catholic priests in WA to be forced to report child sexual abuse revealed during confession

The ABC News reports that ministers of religion in Western Australia will soon have to report child sexual abuse — even if the information is gained under confession — under planned changes to the state's laws. Mandatory reporting laws in WA already apply to doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives, police and school boarding supervisors. Anyone convicted of failing to report child sexual abuse faces a $6,000 fine. The new requirements would apply to "recognised leaders within faith communities who are authorised to conduct religious worship", the WA Government said. This would include priests, ministers, rabbis, pastors and Salvation Army officers. The Northern Territory and South Australia already have laws in place requiring religious ministers to report child sexual abuse, and several other states are following suit. Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said the Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe, had asked her not to compel priests to break the seal of confession.


Students around the world skip school to protest and demand action on climate change (United States and International)

According to The Washington Post, students in scores of countries around the world skipped school on Friday to stage protests against governmental inaction on climate change and to demand that world leaders address the issue immediately. The coordinated action follows one in March, in which an estimated 1.6 million students from 125 countries protested instead of going to school. It was the latest event in a movement called Fridays for Future, in which young people periodically take action on climate change. The movement was sparked by a Swedish teenage activist named Greta Thunberg, who in 2018 led a solo protest in front of the Swedish parliament with a sign saying “School strike for the climate.” Pictures she posted on her social media accounts went viral, and the movement was born. The protest Friday coincided with current voting for the European Union’s assembly. Mainstream parties have in this election cycle seized on climate change policies as a key issue, in part a reaction to the student protests.

Amid #MeToo, states debate teaching kids consent (United States)

The Mail Tribune reports that, inside a Catholic school in Portland, high school sophomores break into groups to discuss some once-taboo topics: abusive relationships and consent. For the first time this year, Central Catholic High School, like public schools in the city, is using educators from a domestic violence shelter to teach kids about what it means to consent. The goal is to reduce sexual violence and harassment among teens and help them understand what behaviour is acceptable — and what's not — before they reach adulthood. What's happening at this Catholic school in liberal Portland represents a larger debate unfolding in blue states and red, as lawmakers, educators and teens themselves re-examine whether sex education should evolve to better address some of the issues raised by #MeToo. Central to the conversation is whether schools should expand curriculums to help kids understand consent — a concept often defined differently from state to state.

Headphones and smartphones causing alarming rates of hearing loss in New Zealand kids (New Zealand)

According to the NZ Herald, Kiwi kids are suffering hearing loss at alarming rates as they spend hours listening to loud music on headphones. Some are even complaining of constant ringing in their ears that is so bad it keeps them awake at night. It has sparked fears at the National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing that local kids could be going deaf at faster rates than global averages. A pilot study by the foundation of 192 students at Auckland’s Rutherford College this year found 11.9 per cent had hearing loss that warranted a referral to a medical specialist. This was more than double the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s global estimates that hearing loss affected 5.3 per cent of 12-to-19-year-olds living in middle-to-high income countries. The WHO now estimates one in five people aged between 12 and 35 suffers from hearing loss – a 30 per cent increase compared to the late 1990s.

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