Weekly Wrap: November 21, 2019

21 November 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.



What did the High Court decide in the Pell case? And what happens now?

According to an article in The Conversation, two judges in the High Court of Australia last week referred Cardinal George Pell’s application for special leave to appeal his convictions to a full bench of the High Court. While not a full grant of special leave, this is favourable to Cardinal Pell, as dismissing the application would have finalised the case and his convictions.  When the High Court hears the case in coming months, it can reject or grant the special leave application. If granted, it can then allow or dismiss the appeal. The case is exceptionally complex and the final outcome is difficult to predict. Allowing leave to appeal does not guarantee the appeal will succeed. The article outlines what might happen next. The High Court does not lightly give leave to appeal. It can only grant leave if: the proceedings involve a question of legal principle; or the interests of the administration of justice require consideration of the earlier judgment. The full hearing of the special leave application will occur in 2020.


Study: Australia’s child abuse crisis is worse than we think

The New Daily reports that more than a third of Australians don’t view child abuse as a big issue, despite thousands of children suffering harm and neglect across the country. And parents are even more likely to be oblivious to the extent of the risks. In Australia, one child is physically, emotionally or sexually abused every 16 minutes, research from Save the Children also shows. That means 32,000 children are abused every year, usually by adults they have been taught to trust. Yet a new study from the child protection agency has revealed 35 per cent of Australians don’t see child abuse as a major issue. Parents were found to be twice as likely to underestimate its prevalence, despite abuse happening most frequently in the family home. Dr Gemma McKibbin, a social work academic at the University of Melbourne, said even though child abuse was a “massive issue in Australia”, the crisis was often pushed under the rug in what she called “cultural denial”.


Nexia Australia lifts income as auditing demand from schools rises

According to the Financial Review, growing demand from independent and Catholic high schools around the country for auditing services has helped mid-tier accounting firm Nexia Australia increase its income. The firm's audit practice makes up about a quarter of income, or $23 million, compared with the average of 10 per cent for auditing across The Australian Financial Review Top 100 Accounting Firms list. "Off the back of our industry expertise in the education field, [Nexia has] been able to increase the number of our clients in this area significantly," global chairman Ian Stone said.


Casual relief teachers missing out on PD – report

According to The Educator, from offering cash incentives to providing further counselling opportunities, governments and school leaders have been making changes to the way Australia’s full-time teachers are supported. However, there is still more work to be done – particularly when it comes to other key faculty members such as casual relief teachers (CRT). The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) says CRTs, just like full-time teaching staff members, need more support to access quality professional learning (PL) opportunities so they can develop their teaching expertise and improve outcomes in the classroom. AITSL’s report, titled: ‘Spotlight: Professional Learning for Relief Teachers’, found that CRTs across all states and territories are going through less professional training compared to their full-time counterparts. In addition to calling for schools and other sectors to reach out to their CRTs, AITSL’s report recommended that CRTs should also be provided with a school or system email address, as well as a link to available PL opportunities.


Two-year ban proposed on teacher-student sexual relations post school

According to Independent Schools Victoria’s Weekly Briefing, teachers would be prohibited from having sexual relationships with former students pupils for two years after their professional relationship has ended, if proposals in the Victorian Institute of Teaching’s review of the teacher code of conduct are adopted. A review discussion paper says there is a “risk that learners could be groomed in a teacher/learner relationship and then exploited immediately following the end of their professional relationship”. It notes that the code of ethics for psychologists is “explicit in the prohibition of a sexual relationship between psychologists and patients within two years of terminating their professional relationship”. It suggests that students, as “vulnerable people”, could be protected by similar restrictions in the teachers’ code. The Australian reported that the Victorian Minister for Education, Mr James Merlino, backs the prohibition, saying “the safety and wellbeing of our students is crucial, which is why we have a number of policies in place to ensure teachers maintain appropriate relationships with students”.


Taking action against bullying and violence

According to Independent Schools Victoria’s Weekly Briefing, the Education Council is calling on students, teachers and school leaders to “take action together” on the 10th National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence on Friday 20 March 2020. Council chair, Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan, said the day, which calls on school communities to find “workable solutions to prevent and respond to bullying” had “national significance”. The theme for the day in 2020 is “Student Voices – Take Action Together”. Mr Tehan said: “Now more than ever, we need to listen to the views of our young people to generate a powerful roadmap to preventing bullying for the future”. For more information about the day, including resources, or to register visit the Bullying. No Way! website.


Australia’s ruthless education system forcing parents to turn to “Mary Poppins” governesses for help

According to The Daily Telegraph, an increasingly competitive Australian education system is prompting a rise in the modern-day “Mary Poppins” governess to help children ace their NAPLAN exams and give them an edge over other students. Nannying agencies say there has been a surge in the number of parents seeking qualified nannies with degrees in childcare, education and even psychology to help children survive in an increasingly cutthroat schooling system. Burnt out teachers are earning as much as $125,000 a year as governesses, using their skills and training in one-on-one education to support families, particularly in NAPLAN “season”. “We are finding it has become much more mainstream now,” said Scarlett Hyde, CEO of White Gloves Services International, which offers governesses with education qualifications ranging from childcare diplomas to teaching and psychology degrees.


This is really why we need more males in teaching: researchers

According to Education HQ, many of the arguments driving the conversation around why we must rectify the shortage of male teachers in Australian schools miss the point, new research indicates. In a new paper, Dr Kevin McGrath of Macquarie University and researchers from Australia and South Africa identify multiple reasons why we should be concerned about the shortage of male teachers in primary schools: on the child level, the classroom level, the organisational level, and a societal level. But to build a case for addressing the shortage, it is important to note that many of the reasons given to pursue a more gender balanced teacher workforce are misguided, they say. Despite this, the experts believe that the shortage of male teachers is an issue. On the level of the individual child, having male teachers around widens the range of gender models available to children, helping them develop a better sense of their own identity. McGrath and his team also argue that having both male and female teachers may build positive classroom dynamics.


Teacher “faced charges” for accessing exam papers to help daughter study

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Queensland teachers are being charged for inappropriately accessing Education Department software despite having "absolutely no idea" their actions are illegal, the state's teachers' union says. One teacher faced criminal charges for allegedly accessing past exam papers stored on the school intranet to help her daughter study, the Queensland Teacher's Union said, in a public submission to the state's corruption watchdog. The woman "had no idea that her actions could constitute a criminal offence", the union said, blaming a lack of clear policy on information access. The Crime and Corruption Commission is investigating the potential misuse of Queenslanders’ private information within the public sector, in a series of public hearings. For the past seven years, every state school in Queensland has used software suite OneSchool for reporting and administrative processes.


Uber Eats its way into schools

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the food delivery trend has made its way to the classroom, providing hungry kids with a vastly broader menu but leaving many schools lukewarm. Some schools have banned deliveries; many are simply discouraging them. Schools have concerns about letting in delivery drivers. They do not want to burden office staff with managing students' orders. They worry about the nutritional value of the food. Anne-Maree Kliman, president of the Victorian Principals Association, said she didn't mind parents dropping off homemade meals for their children, but drew the line at them ordering a meal to be delivered. For Julie Podbury, Victorian branch president of the Australian Principals Federation, there are child safety reasons to ban deliveries. "Office staff should not be involved," she said. "Therefore, the delivery person would need to hand it directly to the child and for that to happen they would need to have a Working with Children Check." Uber Eats and Deliveroo declined to provide numbers on its deliveries to schools.


Year Seven Switch: Multi-million-dollar upgrades begin across South Australia

According to Channel 9, high schools across South Australia are set to receive a multi-million-dollar upgrade in preparation to phase year 7 students out of state primary schools. Nine News has been given a first look at the redevelopments, which will feature state-of-the-art technology and services for thousands of children. Rundown classrooms are now earmarked for removal or major remodelling, to happen ahead of the historic shift of year 7 students from state primary schools, to high schools. The "Year Seven Switch" will happen in 2022 by which time dozens of schools will have been redeveloped. The Government estimates it will need to create an extra 10,000 places for students at 35 high schools over the next four years.


Compass arrives to point teachers the right way in a WA tech first

The Age reports that the first education platform provider to pass Western Australia’s stringent school privacy and data protection laws has launched in Perth to free teachers from administrative tasks and give them more time to focus on students. Compass Platform opened its first WA branch last week in Perth’s CBD to help lead the digital transformation of the state’s public and private schools. Shenton College was the first WA school to use the Compass after investigating the most efficient management systems across the eastern seaboard. Bob Hawke College will become the next school to use the platform when it opens its doors next year, bringing the number of WA schools using the system to about 20. The platform is also used by more than 1800 schools across the eastern states and schools in Ireland, the UK and Canada. The WA launch comes after the Department of Education paused the overhaul of its core student information system as several software releases from Civica failed to pass regulatory tests.



Major overhaul of New Zealand schools to set system up “for the next 30 years” (New Zealand)

According to TV NZ, a major overhaul of New Zealand’s school system is on the way, resetting the governance, management and administration of the way schools are run. It looks to pull some powers from school boards, placing it in the hands of new departments. A to-be redesigned Ministry of Education will bring in more frontline support for schools, more oversight will be placed on Board of Trustees, new independent dispute panels for schools will be created and enrolment zones will be managed locally rather than by each school. Management of school property will be transferred from boards to the Ministry in some cases. The Government described its response to the Our Schooling Futures: Stronger Together recommendations as "pragmatic and workable improvements". Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the changes were not about "more centralised decision-making or smothering schools that already perform well".


German parliament approves compulsory measles vaccinations (Germany)

The Guardian reports that Germany’s parliament has voted to make measles vaccinations compulsory for children, in response to a global rise in cases of the disease. Parents who refuse to get their children inoculated face fines of up to €2,500 (£2,140) and a likely ban from nursery or school. The measles protection act will come into force next March, and its introduction is likely to be watched closely by advocates of mandatory immunisation in other countries, including Britain. The UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in September the government was “looking very seriously” at making vaccinations compulsory for state school pupils. The Bundestag approved the law after months of debate, with doctors speaking out both in favour of and against the legislation. The health ministry, led by Jens Spahn, described the law as “child protection” and said those who backed it were expressing a responsibility towards the whole of society.


Hamilton school board appoints anti-bullying panel after student death (Canada)

According to o.canada.com, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, which has been criticised in the wake of the stabbing death of a 14-year-old student, has appointed a team of experts to a panel meant to improve its response to bullying. The board announced at its meeting last week that the panel will include a child psychiatrist, a former hospital executive, a former university professor and a human rights expert. The board unanimously approved the creation of the anti-bullying panel at the end of October, three weeks after Devan Bracci-Selvey was fatally stabbed outside his high school in the city’s east end. A 14-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man are facing first-degree murder charges. Police have alleged the boy was the one wielding the knife. The board says the review panel’s members will seek feedback from the community and independent experts on how to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying.

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