Weekly Wrap: October 01, 2020

01 October 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.



Boarding schools get behind duty of care

The Australian reports that Victoria will become Australia’s first state to introduce a boarding school registration system for duty of care, as a new certification scheme and professional accreditation system gets under way. The Victorian government is expected to introduce child safety and risk-management requirements in the 2021 school year in line with the recommendations of the 2012 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A Department of Education and Training spokesman said the powers of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority would be expanded to include the registration and regulation of school boarding premises. Laws to introduce the changes are before the Legislative Council, with the requirements expected to start by the middle of next year. South Australia is also progressing with a boarding school registration scheme. Australian Boarding Schools Association chief executive Richard Stokes said up to half its members had signed up to a certification scheme.


Cyber attacks on schools rise amid pandemic

The Educator reports that a recent report by cyber threat intelligence provider Check Point Research revealed that schools and other educational institutions across the globe have seen an increase in cyber attacks in previous months, especially with school resumption in the offing. While Check Point did not release separate figures for Australia, it doesn’t mean that schools in the country were spared from the online attacks. Last June, hackers targeted New South Wales school online accounts in a phishing campaign on the same day Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that businesses and government agencies were being targeted by a state-based cyber actor. To avoid falling prey to these kinds of attacks, Check Point shares five important things that school and other educational institutions must practise: (1) get anti-virus software; (2) establish a strong online perimeter; (3) check third-party providers thoroughly; (4) monitor the system constantly; (5) invest in online cyber security education.


Gender diverse students feel less safe at school: report

According to an article in Education HQ, a recent Australian study looked at how safe female, male, and gender diverse youth aged 11 to 19 felt at school and in other youth spaces, and how much each cohort trusted that adults would support them when they felt unsafe. Researchers from several universities compared the responses of 27 male, 27 female, and 27 gender diverse youth, derived from a larger study of 1400 young people. Male and female youth felt about equally safe in the spaces they engaged with, while gender diverse participants felt significantly less safe. In contrast, gender diverse youth had more faith than did male and female youth that adults would be supportive if they felt unsafe because of sexually questionable behaviour from a male peer or adult.


Global school strike for climate change movement resumes, with protests taking place across Australia

The ABC News reports that school students in cities around the world are back at parliament buildings, striking for climate change action. The Fridays for Future movement, made famous by Greta Thunberg, reported more than 3,000 strikes planned around the world, with most concentrated in the US, Europe and India. Australian protest organisers said more than 500 events were expected to take place across the nation last Friday. In Sydney, COVID-19 restrictions limited the rally in Martin Place to just 20 school students and a handful of speakers. Further north in Newcastle, about 20 people gathered to protest in gusty conditions at Nobbys Beach. There appeared to be even fewer protesters at the scene for the strike for climate change action outside Parliament House in Canberra. Students in Hobart set up a "climate classroom" outside Parliament, "structured like a school day", with a series of lessons for the day's strike. Wet weather did not deter around a hundred school students and supporters from gathering at Hindmarsh Square in Adelaide.


Coffs Harbour students protest over teachers' “racist” remarks

The ABC News reports that students at a high school on the NSW Mid North Coast want staff to take a lesson in cultural awareness after a teacher allegedly told a group of Indigenous female students that he supported the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Orara High School principal Malcolm McFarlene said the school had taken the incident "very seriously" and "a very frank conversation" was had with teacher involved, before a meeting was held with all staff. Mr McFarlene said the teacher had offered an apology to the students and had acknowledged that his comments may have hurt them. However, he said the exact wording of the remarks was still being investigated. Mr McFarlene said the teacher involved in the latest incident would not be returning to the school unless the Education Department's employee performance and conduct unit cleared him.


Melbourne primary schools to reopen

The Educator reports that all Melbourne primary school students will be back in the classroom for face-to-face learning from October 12, Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced over the weekend. Under the state’s existing “roadmap out of lockdown”, onsite learning for VCE, VCAL and Prep to Grade Two was set to resume onsite learning from October 12. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, 373 students and 139 staff members have been infected, leading to school closures and contact tracing. While studies have shown that primary school-aged kids are at low risk of contracting the virus, health experts say this may not be the case for senior students. Recognising this, the government is yet to announce a tentative date for the return of Years 7-10. The Victorian Government has said it would like high school students to return to the classroom before the end of Term 4 but will take the advice of public health experts before making such a decision.


How an algorithm could curb the spread of COVID-19 through schools

The Brisbane Times reports that Class Solver is a Melbourne-based software program that is being used by American schools trying to get kids back into the classroom while limiting the spread of coronavirus. Class Solver is already used by hundreds of Australian primary schools for the purpose of grouping children into classes. Information about each child is fed into the software and an algorithm produces the most balanced group of children. Geoff Craig, a mathematician who developed the software, says the algorithm can also be used to group students in a way that will reduce the risk of them spreading COVID-19 widely outside school hours. The US schools that have begun using it to guard against COVID-19 have put students in class together who live in the same neighbourhood and catch the same bus, meaning any infection can be contained.


Appeal for urgent return of foreign students

The Educator reports that the Federal Government’s restrictions on international travel has prevented foreign students from entering the country, leaving many schools that are heavily reliant on overseas enrolment struggling to find means to sustain normal operations. Concerned that the continued ban could lead to cutbacks and closures, principals of several of Victoria’s most expensive private schools have sent a written appeal to the state government for the urgent return of international students. The principals also urged the state government to work with the private school sector to develop plans for the entry of students before the 2021 school year opens. They warned that some schools might face closures and staff reductions if international student enrolments continue to dip. Premier Daniel Andrews recently said that Victoria’s ban on international arrivals will stay until November, stoking fears of further decline in international student numbers next year.


Qlders say private education is too expensive, experts warn the extra cost brings little benefit

The Courier-Mail reports that Queenslanders have sounded the alarm over exorbitant school fees, with 60 per cent of Sunshine State residents saying the price of private education is too high, the Courier-Mail’s Your Say sentiment survey has found. Southwest Queenslanders felt private education would cause the most hip pocket pain, with 64.72 per cent saying private education is too costly, followed by those who live in other southeast areas at 63.61 per cent. Queenslanders in northern Greater Brisbane areas were the third most likely to think private school is too expensive with 60.85 per cent of residents in the area sounding the alarm over fees. Southern Cross University associate professor David Zyngier said the average cost of educating a high school student was around $15,000 per annum. “That’s the set costs for the average student so any private or non-government school that charges more than $15,000, one has to ask the question what are they doing with that,” he said.


DRAFT COVID-19 Model Code of Practice

The Commonwealth Attorney-General has released a draft work health and safety (WHS) Code of Practice (draft code) to provide businesses and workers guidance on what they need to do to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace. The draft code builds on the National Cabinet’s COVID-19 safe workplace principles, which included establishing Safe Work Australia as a central source of practical guidance and tools on managing the WHS risks of COVID-19. Codes of practice under the model WHS laws provide duty holders with practical guidance on how they can meet their WHS duties in relation to specific hazards and risks. The code provides an example for state and territory governments, which can be adopted if required according to their individual level of risks.



Symptoms, testing, self-isolation: A snapshot of COVID-19 protocols in public schools across Canada (Canada)

CTV News reports that, just days and weeks after in-person classes resumed, more than 480 schools in Quebec and more than 200 in Ontario have at least one case of COVID-19 so far. To get a snapshot of the different protocols, CTV News looked at the policies of 18 school boards and regions across the country. Region to region, protocols differ slightly in terms of mask requirements, which symptoms will require children to stay home, whether testing is encouraged or required, when students are allowed to resume classes, and more. The list of symptoms differs slightly from province to province, and from those listed on the Government of Canada’s website. There is consensus across all jurisdictions around fevers and coughs as primary symptoms to watch out for that would require students to be kept at home. With many of the symptoms potentially minor on their own (is diarrhoea a sign of COVID-19 or the aftermath of a bad dinner?), or similar to a cold or even allergies, it doesn’t take much for a student to get sent home. This has prompted some health officials to revisit which symptoms to include.


Televising school sport could put too much focus on performance, a price too high for young athletes (New Zealand)

According to an article in The Conversation, a new deal to televise and live stream more secondary school sports in New Zealand has attracted significant attention and debate. The new broadcast deal is a collaboration between the New Zealand Sport Collective (created by former Olympic rowing champion Rob Waddell and representing more than 50 sports) and Sky Sport Next, a YouTube channel run by Sky TV. The deal evolved after consultation with several bodies including the New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council (NZSSSC), which coordinates secondary school sport. The increased television exposure adds to concerns of an overly professionalised, “win at all costs” culture that already exists in some school sport. In response to these concerns, the NZSSSC set up a broadcasting charter in an attempt to protect the health and well-being of students and allow those who do not want to be televised to opt out. Rather than opting out, some schools may feel pressure on them to stay in, to please players and parents.


Class sizes in UK may rise to 60 as schools struggle to cover for self-isolating teachers (United Kingdom)

The Guardian reports that some schools are planning to increase their class sizes to up to 60 pupils so that they can continue to offer students an education this term, as fears grow of a looming teacher shortage. Headteachers are worried that a significant number of staff will need to self-isolate for long periods this winter as they struggle to gain access to tests for COVID-19, and that schools will soon run out of money to pay for cover from supply teachers. A recent survey by the National Association of Head Teachers found that 45 per cent of schools have teachers who are currently unable to attend because they are awaiting a coronavirus test, and spokesman James Bowen warned it would not be surprising if schools suffered from “a shortage of supply teachers” as winter begins.



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