Weekly Wrap: November 28, 2019

28 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.



Australia fails on early childhood education

According to the Financial Review, The Early Childhood Australia report shows women remain more likely to be the primary carer for children, and the proportion of families with a single earning father, whose partner is not in the labour force, decreased from 36 per cent in 2013 to 31 per cent in 2017. The report shows children who attend early learning services are as much as 33 per cent less likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school than those who do not attend early learning services. Disparities in access to early learning persist, however. While nearly 45 per cent of children used early learning services in 2018, those living in remote areas, children from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds and those with a disability are under-represented in early learning services. The report will be tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament. It notes a decline in investment in early learning per child occurred under the Turnbull and Morrison governments.


An economic argument for extending preschool to two years

According to the Financial Review, the Morrison government could save $15.2 billion off the budget bottom line if it was prepared to outlay more on early childhood including an extra year of pre-school, according to a group of organisations and companies which includes Woodside Energy and Andrew Forrest's Minderoo Foundation. The partnership will present a report to Canberra this week on the sharp increase in long-term costs of child protection and youth crime, unemployment, justice, homelessness and mental health. The report authors said child protection alone tops $5.9 billion a year and the cost of out of home care for children and young people has increased by 34 per cent in the past 10 years. It comes as educators ramp up a campaign ahead of next year's federal budget calling for more money to be spent on pre-school.


Children who start school later gain advantage, new study shows

The Herald Sun reports that children who are held back and start school later than their peers gain an advantage that is still felt up to six decades later, a new study shows. They are more self-confident, resilient, competitive and trusting, which tends to be associated with economic success. The analysis of 1007 adults aged between 24 and 60 illustrates the “potential adverse effect of school entry rules,” lead author Lionel Page from the University of Technology, Sydney said. “Our findings indicate that school entry rules influence the formation of behavioural traits, creating long-lasting disparities between individuals born on different sides of the cut-off date,” he said. Dr Page said relatively young students born before the cut-off date rather than after it suffered an unintended penalty. School starting ages vary between Australian states. In Victoria, children starting school must turn five by 30 April in the year they start school, whereas in Queensland and Western Australia the cut-off is 30 June. In South Australia, they must be five by 1 May and in Tasmania they must be five by 1 January.


“Terrible blame game”: Parents and teachers at loggerheads over discipline

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, parents and schools are at loggerheads over how to handle increasing numbers of children with "incredibly difficult" problems moving into mainstream classrooms, a world-leading expert in child behaviour disorders has warned. Professor Mark Dadds said that legal and ethical concerns left teachers hesitant about discipline at school, but sending children home on suspension risked encouraging the behaviour. "I think this is coming to a head and it needs to be thought through very carefully," he said. "It's feeding into this terrible blame game that seems to be growing in Australia, where schools are saying that the children are to blame, and the parents are increasingly saying the school is not managing the child right." Professor Dadds said schools were often reluctant to use alternative discipline techniques such as time out, which some decry as segregation but research showed was a proven way to manage angry, defiant behaviour.


Venture capital sees window in education

According to the Financial Review, Fintech company Edstart is the first of Australia's emerging payment startups to tap into the deep pockets of fee-paying education with its $11 billion spending base of locked-in school parents. Edstart has just completed a $5 million Series A capital raising with NAB Ventures and Larsen Ventures allowing it to expand its business which smooths lumpy school fee commitments into fortnightly payments. Edstart's co-founders – Jack Stevens, who was formerly with KPMG corporate finance, and Jonas Hallerby, formerly with JPMorgan – said between them three out of four of their parents were school teachers. In 2015 the two agreed there was room for a fintech platform that would make it easier for parents to get through the "pain point" of school-fee instalments. Todd Forest, the managing director NAB Ventures has taken a seat on the Edstart board. He said the $100 million VC fund saw education financing as an untapped market where costs to parents are increasing year on year.


Two in five parents regret the school they chose for their kids

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, two in five parents would choose a different school for their children if they had the choice again. But parents were less likely to have regrets if they did their own research by visiting the school, speaking to staff or using information on the My School website, rather than relying on word of mouth or doing no research. The Centre for Independent Studies, a think tank that supports freedom of choice in education, polled more than 1000 parents from state and non-government schools to gauge their views on school selection and funding for its paper, What Do Parents Want from Schools? Parents were most likely to prioritise location, facilities and results, then consider cost, discipline and their child's interests when choosing a school, the national survey found. They were least likely to care about whether the school was single-sex or not. The author of the paper, CIS research fellow Glenn Fahey, said Australia should not be content with an education system in which two in five parents were not willing to endorse their child's school.


“No hat, no play” is gospel in primary school but the message disappears for older students

The ABC News reports: No hat, no play. That is the message drummed into primary school students across Australia. But by the time they reach high school, the hat wearing message seems to disappear — along with the hats. "There is a gap once you leave primary school, and move into high school, where the sun smart policy is supposed to carry on, but the reality is it doesn't," Derek Bryan from the Melanoma Institute of Australia said. While education departments advise the wearing of hats as part of their sun safety policies, it is not mandatory to wear them in most secondary schools across the country (with the exception of some private schools). The 2017 Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol & Drug survey found only 43 per cent of ACT secondary students wear a hat at school. A Cancer Council ACT survey also found wearing a hat was low on the list of sun protection behaviour amongst secondary students.


Survey reveals students’ thoughts on technology

According to The Educator, Australian children believe technology is moving in a positive direction and is a force for good that will play an even greater role in their lives as they grow older, a new study shows. The CompTIA report “International Youth Perspectives of Technology and Careers” surveyed more than 1,500 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 from 11 different countries. It found that 45 per cent of the Australian teenagers surveyed would consider a career in technology, compared to 50 per cent globally. Australian teens are also generally positive about what a job in tech entails; solving problems, doing work that’s interesting and fun and earning a good salary. However, the study also identified barriers that may be keeping even more young people from looking at the technology field as a profession. Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, pointed to data that show 35 per cent of Australian teenagers are of the opinion that they lack the preparation and exposure to technology in high school or college that would prepare them for such a career.


Faith based schools and groups fear loss of charity status

The Australian reports that faith-based schools and groups have warned their charitable status could be stripped under a “public benefit” test over traditional marriage and gender beliefs, as pressure builds for Attorney-General Christian Porter to expand his religious freedoms package. Ahead of an address to the National Press Club last Wednesday, Mr Porter would stare down pressure from leading Christian and Jewish groups who are calling for a wider overhaul of the Charities Act to protect against legal challenges. Mr Porter was to outline the complexity in drafting the religious bills amid competing interests of faith-based, business and social groups in his speech and was expected to provide detail on his finalised package ahead of tabling the bills in Parliament before December 5. The updated religious discrimination bill will include protections for faith-based hospitals and aged care facilities. Clause 4 of Mr Porter’s draft Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill ensures supporting a traditional view of marriage will not be a “disqualifying purpose” that would preclude an organisation from remaining a charity under the Act.


Report cards showing potential, but with room for improvement

According to The New Daily, in many schools, the report writing process begins several weeks – or even months – before reports are eventually released. This process has significant costs, including time spent away from teaching. For the past three years, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been investigating how effective parents, teachers and students consider report cards to be, and whether alternative designs might provide better information about student learning. The ACER has analysed student reports and consulted students, parents, teachers and school leaders from several states. The final report of the Communicating Student Learning Progress project shows parents and teachers are dissatisfied with aspects of the way report cards communicate student achievement. The research suggests all forms of communication (semester reports, continuous reporting, parent-teacher interviews, student-led conferences, portfolios) should work together, as a system, to communicate a coherent picture of a child’s achievement and progress.


New guide helps principals tackle image-based abuse

The Educator reports that, according to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, one third of intimate content which is shared without consent involves those who are under 18 years old. Since October 2017, the Commission has received more than 1,600 reports of image-based abuse, highlighting the need for schools to take tougher action. In collaboration with the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) and the ThinkUKnow program, the office of the eSafety Commissioner recently released a guide to help schools deal with the issue. The guide provides support for school leaders who are faced with incidents of sharing explicit material such as a nude or sexual content involving students which could either be already shared or threatened to be shared online. eSafety’s guide should be read alongside any child protection policies supplied by their relevant education department or governing body. However, all school staff should also receive professional development training to recognise and pass on information on such incidents, the Commission said.



Has Tomorrow’s Schools review gone far enough? (New Zealand)

According to newsroom, earlier this month, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins released the Government’s response to the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce report. The “Supporting all schools to succeed” programme of reforms he announced will entail the most significant changes to school governance and administration since “Tomorrow’s Schools” in 1989, but certainly not the wholesale change proposed by the Taskforce. The reforms recognise the demanding task of school governance and address this through greater resourcing, training and guidance for board of trustees members and school principals. They intend to rein in property management and maintenance through a more centralised system. And school enrolment zones will now receive external review to minimise the strategic avoidance of “less desirable” students or selection of the “more desirable”. While supporting all schools to succeed has gone some way in softening the worst excesses of Tomorrow’s Schools, time will tell if these reforms go far enough in having the intended effect of reducing the deep inequalities that currently reside within and between New Zealand schools.


How schools will try to work around the donation-ban plan (New Zealand)

According to Radio NZ, though a government scheme to get rid of school donations is yet to begin, schools are looking for ways to push its rules to the limit. RNZ education correspondent John Gerritsen asked principals how funding changes will affect their schools. At Pakuranga College, uncertainty arises from the college's decision to join 1500 schools in accepting government payments of $150 per pupil, so long as they stop asking for donations and voluntary payments for course costs and activities. For the students in the food technology class, the decision means that from 2020 their school will no longer be able to ask for a $65 contribution toward the cost of ingredients for their lessons. RNZ understands some schools that have joined the scheme are setting up foundations and trusts specifically so they can continue requesting donations from families. Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, says that's not a problem. "It's not a loophole in the scheme. Parent teacher associations, for example, have existed for a long time, and they've often done fundraising on behalf of schools, I've always envisaged that that sort of thing would continue," he says.

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