Weekly Wrap: May 9, 2019

09 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.


“Forget about ATAR: Australia has a teacher recruitment problem”

According to The Educator, recent reports state that the proportion of students with an ATAR of 70 or lower being admitted to teaching degrees has increased significantly over the past decade, from 30 per cent in 2007 to 40 per cent in 2016. In March, Deputy Opposition Leader, Tanya Plibersek, proposed that teaching degrees be capped to the top 30 per cent of high-school graduates, explaining that “Labor wants our high achievers to compete into teaching degrees in the same way they compete to get into medicine, dentistry or vet science.” However, some experts say education policymakers could benefit from looking at the ATAR through a different lens – that is, not as a teacher selection issue, but more of a teacher recruitment issue. We need to be looking at why fewer people want to go into the teaching profession,” Dr Tony Loughland, Academic Director of Professional Experience in the School of Education at UNSW, said.

Review into the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti- discrimination Legislation

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has been commissioned to undertake a comprehensive review of the framework of religious exemptions in anti-discrimination legislation across Australia. The Review is part of the Government's response to the Review of Religious Freedom, released in December 2018. The law reforms that the ALRC has been asked to consider include limiting or removing altogether (if practicable) “religious exemptions to prohibitions on discrimination, while also guaranteeing the right of religious institutions to conduct their affairs in a way consistent with their religious ethos”. The ALRC has been asked to report to the government by 10 April 2020. Interested stakeholders can provide comments on the scope of the inquiry and any issues relevant to the terms of reference until 10 May 2019.

Tears outside PM's office as students skip school to demand climate action again

According to ABC News, there were tears outside Scott Morrison's office in Sydney's south, but the biggest crowds were in Melbourne where thousands of students skipped school to demand action on climate change. About 70 demonstrations were held around Australia — hundreds turned out at the Prime Minister's office in Cronulla, although most in the crowd there were older than school age. Stella Brazier, 14, burst into tears when asked about her decision to attend. "It just upsets me so much because I just don't know if they [politicians] are going to do anything," she said. Many of the speakers in capital cities railed against the Adani coal mine in central Queensland, and demanded Australia increase its take-up of renewable energy. In Perth, a crowd of about 300 people marched to Exchange Plaza in the CBD to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, in Adelaide, more than 100 protestors gathered at Boothby Liberal candidate Nicolle Flint's office. Holding signs and chanting, the group criticised Ms Flint's record on the environment, particularly her support of pro-coal group Monash Forum.

Phone bans a “simple but ineffective solution”

According to The Educator, leading education expert Pasi Sahlberg says that the issue of restricting smartphone use is best handled in close collaboration with children and their parents – not through bans by schools and Departments. The debate over the extent to which schools should be restricting students’ smartphone use has caused division among experts. In December last year, NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced a ban of mobile phones from all primary school classrooms following an independent review launched in September. Schools in other states have also been cracking down. Melbourne’s McKinnon Secondary College has implemented a policy that makes students lock away their smartphones until the end of the school day. Pasi Sahlberg says that a ban on smartphones constitutes a “simple but ineffective” solution. “[W]e need to do much more with children now to help them to safe, responsible and reasonable use of their devices in school and at home. Self-control is the most powerful way to take control of this new phenomenon.”

“Big ideas” and digital literacy: Department of Education calls for NSW schools shake-up

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the NSW Department of Education’s submission to the NSW Curriculum Review says that students should be taught digital literacy, there should be a plain-language version of the curriculum, and the role of syllabuses should be reconsidered. The Department backed subject knowledge as the best foundation for developing so-called soft skills such as creative thinking and problem solving. The Department also suggested that the study of information and communication technologies (ICT) be redefined as digital literacy, to encourage students to understand the ethics and bias in their engagement with digital technology. The NSW Curriculum Review is the biggest overhaul of the state's learning framework in 30 years. Professor Geoff Masters has been examining submissions and a draft report is due to be publicly released by the end of June.

Principals call for zero tolerance after stabbing

According to The Educator, the NSW Primary Principals Association is calling for the State Government to support a safer learning environment for students and staff. This call follows an incident in which a mother allegedly stabbed a teacher in a premediated attack at a Byron Bay public school last week. Teacher Zane Vockler was allegedly stabbed in the face and arm with a pair of scissors brandished by mother Karina Sbraini, who appeared at Tweed Heads Local Court to face charges. The NSWPPA, which represents 1800 government primary school principals and their schools in NSW, expressed its concerns regarding the escalation of threats and aggressive behaviour towards principals and staff in the state’s schools.

Crisis teams are monitoring schools and their CCTV from a secret high-security bunker

According to The Age, violence and aggression in Victorian state schools has led to crisis teams monitoring emergency incidents from a secret, high-security bunker in the Melbourne CBD. At the new 24/7 crisis centre, Education Department staff can connect to CCTV cameras at some schools and watch incidents unfold in real-time in a large room with floor-to-ceiling screens. They can also replay the footage, while tracking school security alarms, live weather maps and natural disasters such as bushfires and floods. The relatively unknown Incident Support and Operations Centre, located near Spring Street, opened in November as part of a $8.9 million State Government package to tackle to aggression and violence in Victorian schools. Data show that each Victorian state school reports, on average, between one to two violent incidents per year.

School suspensions, expulsions jump 12 per cent, but Minister says that's good

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, there has been a 12 per cent jump in the number of Queensland state school students being booted from school on suspensions, expulsions and enrolment cancellations. Department of Education data revealed there were 79,627 short suspensions, 3186 long suspensions, 1771 expulsions and 1078 enrolments cancelled in 2018. Overall, it was a 12 per cent increase in total incidents on 2017 and a 34 per cent increase on 2014. But Education Minister Grace Grace said the increase showed the Palaszczuk government's zero tolerance approach to bullying, cyberbullying and other anti-social behaviours was working.

WA high school education shake-up gives students another pathway to ATAR and VET

According to ABC News, high school education in WA is set for a major change in the options available to students entering Year 11 from next year. A new pathway to obtaining the WA Certificate of Education (WACE) will be created from 2020, giving students three options instead of the existing two. The WA Government has decided to add a new “general pathway” in between ATAR and VET that will enable students to "keep options open". Students will be able to choose five of 50 subjects to obtain their WACE. The general pathway will not serve as a direct entry passage to university study but students who follow the general pathway will be able to enter university through other means, as students who follow the VET pathway are currently able to do.

“Insane” new school rules could force cancellation of outdoor ed classes: teachers

WA Today reports that WA teachers fear schools will be forced to cancel or scale back outdoor education classes because of onerous new rules dramatically increasing supervision and qualification requirements for many activities. The rules require an increase in the supervisor-to-student ratio for most activities and for some higher risk activities such as surfing and abseiling the ratio has nearly doubled. Teachers must now also have at least one formal qualification for any activity they are teaching. The policies were initially meant to take effect on January 1, 2019 but a backlash from teachers resulted in a grace period being granted until the end of the year. The Department of Education’s Executive director of Statewide Services, Martin Clery, said safety was a priority and the Department would continue to speak to schools throughout the transition period.


School leaders struggle to get help for vulnerable students – report (New Zealand)

According to TVNZ’s one-news now, the mental wellbeing of teenagers in New Zealand is becoming a major concern for school principals and teachers throughout the country. The New Zealand Council for Educational Research's National Survey of Secondary Schools found that 63 per cent of principals have trouble getting help for vulnerable students - up on the 36 per cent in 2015. The research also found that less than a third of teachers said they had training to recognise early warning signs of student mental health issues. As well as student wellbeing, the research also found an increase in 2018 of teachers reporting issues of student behaviour to the point of teaching being seriously disrupted by student behavioural issues.

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