Weekly Wrap: November 19, 2020

19 November 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.



CIRCUIT BREAKER: SA in full lockdown

The Advertiser reports that South Australia will go into a full lockdown for at least six days from midnight Wednesday night in a bid to nip the latest COVID-19 wave in its bud. Schools and universities will close as well as cafés, pubs, takeaway and restaurants. Masks will be mandatory and you are only allowed to leave your home once a day for essentials, such as groceries or for medical reasons. Weddings, funerals, holiday home rentals are banned and there will be no interstate or regional travel. Medical facilities, supermarkets, public transport and vet clinics will stay open. The main aim is to effect a community pause, which the Government is referring to as a “circuit breaker” to stop the spread, amid concerns the contact tracing teams will struggle to cope if numbers of potential transmission sites continue to rise above and beyond the existing 50.


Education Minister Dan Tehan urges states to work on plans for reviving foreign student intakes

The New Daily reports that repatriating Australians stranded offshore by COVID-19 remains the Morrison government’s number one priority, but the education sector has been told to work with state and territory governments with regard to international students. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said jurisdictions have been asked to draw up plans as to how they can accommodate returning international students within their quarantine caps. “Our priority is returning Australians and that will continue to be the case especially in the lead up to Christmas,” Mr Tehan told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda. “But we have asked state and territory governments to submit plans to us as to how they can bring in international students back.” Australia’s $40 billion foreign student education industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 jobs having been lost.

[Note: the article does not specifically mention international school students.]


Students get free tutoring after falling behind during COVID-19 remote learning

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Berejiklian Government will employ thousands of tutors to help school students struggling after months of home learning. For the first time in NSW, students will receive tutoring throughout next year from casual and retired teachers, final year teaching students and university tutors to get back on track. The $337 million landmark program will be funded in this week's state budget. The Government will employ as many as 5500 extra staff to deliver small group teaching in every NSW public school, as well as independent schools with the most significant levels of need. Research revealed that disadvantaged students in NSW lost around two weeks' worth of learning in maths and more than a week in reading while schools were delivering remote lessons. The NSW Department of Education will support schools to identify students who would benefit most from intensive support, tailoring it to their requirements.


Teachers say nurses in NSW schools should not replace counsellors

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the placement of 100 nurses in schools across NSW has been welcomed by mental health experts but the teachers' union says the nurses should not replace counsellors, who remain in short supply across the system. The NSW Department of Education has announced it would spend $46.8 million to embed 100 nurses in schools to support students with general and mental health issues. Professor Ian Hickie, co-director of the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Centre, said the move could "effectively build a partnership between the health and education systems" in a time when mental health issues are accelerating among young people. However, he said the move would be successful if the problems detected by the nurses in schools were then able to be referred to and managed effectively by specialists in the health system. A recent survey of more than 5300 teachers and principals conducted by the NSW Teachers’ Federation found only 20 per cent of all schools and 4 per cent of primary schools had a school counsellor on-site every day.


“Let teachers be teachers”: Catholic sector says schools tied up in red tape

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the proportion of non-teaching staff in schools has ballooned over the past 30 years, but it's still not enough to deal with increasing administrative demands, Catholic Schools NSW has argued in a pitch to government. The burden could be eased by letting schools choose which parts of the syllabus they teach, and giving them more flexibility on how they report back to parents, it said. The sector also called for less red tape in teacher accreditation, an end to schools having to produce annual reports, and changes to HSC marking, such as discretion over year 11 assessments and more in-school marking of major projects. In its report, entitled Better, Smarter Regulation, CSNSW said the ratio of students to administrative staff in its system had grown from 130 to one in 1990, to 55.6 last year. Catholic principals say they are managing about 200 different school policies. Many of the recommendations are directed to the NSW Education Standards Authority, which governs schools across the three sectors.


Old private school loan scheme costs government $122 million over five years

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the NSW government has spent more than $122 million helping private schools pay off loans for building projects over the past five years, under its obligations to a funding scheme that was discontinued almost a decade ago. The money is a legacy of the old NSW interest subsidy scheme, which began in 1965 to help non-government schools construct new buildings. It was closed to wealthy private schools on fairness grounds in 2004, before ceasing for all non-government schools in 2012. However, some of Sydney's wealthiest independent schools were still benefiting from subsidies last year because the government agreed to honour all loans for a maximum of 20 years. Data obtained by the NSW Teachers Federation under freedom of information laws reveal that, while the annual bill has diminished over time as loans are paid off, the scheme continues to cost millions each year and will be paid out until 2031. It comes on top of new capital funding programs for independent schools.


Child sex abuse survivor wins payout after electric shock “therapy”

The Age reports that a former ward of the state who was forced to undergo electric shock "therapy" after disclosing he had been sexually abused has reached an $825,000 settlement with the State Government and Uniting Church. It is believed to be one of the largest top-up payments for a state ward since new laws took effect in Victoria giving victims who have accepted meagre settlements the right to sue again. In 2007 Mr Bob Cummings accepted what he describes as an "insulting" $15,000 settlement with the Uniting Church and signed a deed of release preventing him from taking further action. But he was given new hope last year when the State Government introduced legislation allowing courts to set aside deeds of release. Mr Cummings' lawyer, Viv Waller, said the changes had levelled the playing field for survivors of sexual abuse. Her firm is acting for 35 clients who are pursuing top-up payments, including a man who was abused by the notorious sexual predator Father Gerald Ridsdale.


Media organisations face trial over Pell stories, alleged breach of suppression orders

The New Daily reports that nearly two years after Cardinal George Pell was first convicted – and later acquitted – of child sexual abuse charges, media organisations are facing trial over stories about the case. Suppression orders barred reporting anywhere in Australia of Cardinal Pell’s five convictions after a jury found him guilty in December 2018. At the time he was convicted he was facing separate allegations and due to stand trial for a second time – though that was later dropped. But international media organisations including The Daily Beast and the Washington Post published news stories revealing details of the case. Prosecutors say two dozen journalists, commentators, editors and media organisations were in contempt of court in reports which alluded to Cardinal Pell’s convictions and directed the public to those international reports. It has taken nearly two years for the trial to get underway, after lawyers for the media argued prosecutors repeatedly failed to fully detail the case against each accused. The trial before Justice John Dixon is expected to last 10 to 15 days.


Education Department loses bid to sack Monterey Secondary College teacher

The Herald Sun reports that the Victorian Education Department has lost its long-running fight to have a teacher sacked for tampering with students’ marks. Monterey Secondary College teacher Saji Paul will be able to head a classroom again after the Court of Appeal last Thursday dismissed the Department’s bid to fire him. The Herald Sun exclusively revealed last year how Mr Paul, an experienced maths and science teacher of 10 years, was dismissed for altering the results of 16 students in 2017. But he was later reinstated by the disciplinary appeals board after arguing his termination was excessive and that he deserved to continue teaching. The board considered his good character and instead punished him with a demotion from the highest grade teacher to the lowest, taking a $20,000 pay cut. An attempt by the Department to have the board’s decision reviewed was thrown out in the Supreme Court in October last year. The Department then took its bid to the Court of Appeal.


Interstate school trips are back but Canberra's school excursion industry has been hit hard by coronavirus

The ABC News reports that Canberra is normally the go-to destination for school trips, to the point that it's almost a rite of passage for students around Australia. But the $130-million-a-year booster shot to the ACT's economy has mostly dried up, with coronavirus border closures keeping tens of thousands of students who were expected to visit this year at home. In recent weeks, as the country has begun to recover from the pandemic, so too has domestic tourism, and pupils' pilgrimages to the capital. Garry Watson, from the National Capital Educational Tourism Project, said things were getting better, but there was still a long way to go. "In 2019 around 173,000 school children came to visit Canberra," he said. "This year we will be lucky to get 20,000." About 100,000 students were booked in to come to Canberra between July to November — but most of them cancelled. "We might get another 20 schools before Christmas — maybe," Mr Watson said.


Caleb's school teachers told him Aboriginal Tasmanians no longer existed. He's now proving them wrong

SBS News reports that when Caleb Nichols-Mansell started school, the palawa man was told Aboriginal Tasmanians no longer existed. He's now selling their art and crafts to show how just how strong his culture is. Growing up in Launceston, Caleb Nichols-Mansell was taught about his Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage by his family. But when he started school, it was a different story. "I think the biggest misconception, and the misconception that I come across the most, is that Truganini was the last Tasmanian Aboriginal," the 24-year-old told SBS News. "I, and many other people who went through school in Tasmania, bore witness to our teachers telling us that there were no Tasmanian Aboriginals, that Truganini was the last one, and as someone with a proud, cultural identity as a strong palawa man, that was really confusing and conflicting for me," Caleb said. Caleb said this year's NAIDOC Week theme “Always Was, Always Will Be” is a reminder for all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia. The Tasmanian Aboriginal language, palawa kani, uses only lowercase letters.


“Technical issue” causes almost 3,000 South Australian Year 12 students to miss final exam

The ABC News reports that the fallibility of electronic exams has been exposed as nearly 3,000 South Australian students miss out on sitting their Year 12 psychology exams due to an "unforeseen technical issue". South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) Board Chief Executive, Professor Martin Westwell, said the board was investigating what had happened across the 164 exam centres. Professor Westwell has defended the process, saying the aggregated score will be an accurate reflection of students' efforts. South Australian students were among the first in Australia to sit fully electronic end-of-year exams, in 2018. Since then, the SACE Board has increasingly transitioned exams into an electronic format, especially in 2020, given the number of forced school closures due to COVID-19. Professor Westwell defended the transition, and said it was the inclusion of multimedia content in the exam that caused the glitch.



NESA has announced an update to the Guidelines for Approved NSW School Providers Delivering Courses to Overseas Students (Guidelines). The update includes clarification of timeframes relating to school provider notifications and minor administrative amendments. The amended Guidelines are available to download from the Regulation > CRICOS section of the NESA website. A tracked changes version of the Guidelines is available on the NESA website.

Under the updated Guidelines, schools wishing to amend the scope of approval to deliver courses to overseas students should submit their Application to Amend Approval (CRICOS) to NESA:

  • where the application relates to adding or removing delivery sites — at least three months before implementing an amendment
  • for all other amendments — at least one month before implementing an amendment.


Australian Education Amendment (South Australia Year 7 Schools) Regulations 2020 (Cth)

These Regulations, which were registered on the Federal Register of Legislation on 13 November 2020 and commenced on 14 November 2020, amend the Australian Education Regulation 2013 to update the list of schools in South Australia that deliver Year 7 as secondary education. This allows for the correct calculation of the full year entitlement, at the secondary level Schooling Resource Standard, for those schools that advised in 2020 that they commenced delivery of Year 7 in a secondary environment.



Disgraced former American cardinal Theodore McCarrick misled popes about sex crimes, Vatican says (Vatican, United Kingdom)

ABC News reports that the Vatican says former pope John Paul II was among a range of high-ranking clerics misled by disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was found guilty of sexual crimes and abuse of power. The report also found John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, rejected further investigations into the cardinal as he had sworn on his oath as a bishop that he had not sexually abused anyone and "there was no indication of any recent misconduct [with adults]". The publication of the Holy See's two-year investigation into McCarrick coincided on Tuesday last week with the findings of the UK's Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse, which examined child abuse across British institutions and society. The inquiry found the Catholic Church — as it did the Church of England — had consistently prioritised its own reputation, moving abusive priests and monks to different parishes where some continued to prey on children, and resisting any external intervention.


Schools start closing — or delay reopening — as COVID-19 cases jump across the country (United States)

The Washington Post reports that schools in some parts of the United States have started to close down and numerous districts are postponing plans to reopen in the face of skyrocketing community COVID-19 cases, setting back efforts to try to reopen campuses closed since this past spring when the coronavirus pandemic began. Though the latest COVID-19 surge is being blamed by health experts on social gatherings and not on schools, officials in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Topeka, San Diego, Sacramento, Minneapolis, DC and other districts have put off plans to soon reopen school buildings for the first time in the 2020-21 school year. Instead students will keep learning remotely at home, with no set date to return to school. In other places — including Texas, Utah, Michigan, Georgia and Indiana — some districts are temporarily closing schools that already opened, often because of pandemic-caused staffing shortages.


Coaches push school-aged athletes to leave formal schooling as a “necessary sacrifice” (New Zealand)

Stuff reports that New Zealand has 100 child athletes – some as young as 10 – who are choosing their future sporting careers over in-school education. Sometimes that choice is being prompted by coaches who schedule training during in-school hours, so that school-aged athletes must choose between a school education and sport. Nine now-former senior gymnasts from one of the country’s major clubs took that route. Several felt they were given no option to stay at school, after their head coach set a rule all athletes wanting to be in the top squad must do correspondence school, so they could focus on the sport. Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, the state-funded correspondence school, receives about 100 applications every year through its “exceptional arts or sports performance gateway”, which supports young students identified as likely to either represent New Zealand, or develop to the top of their age group.

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