Weekly Wrap: October 14, 2021

14 October 2021

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.


More than 50 per cent of kids with mental health issues aren't getting any help. Here's how the government plans to fix that

ABC News reports that half of Australian kids with mental illness aren't getting timely professional help and less than a third of parents used services to help their struggling child, according to official government figures. The Australian Government’s National Children's Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is a world-first aiming to address the issue, which provides a framework to help support the mental health and wellbeing of children 12 and younger. The strategy proposes and focuses on eight main principles, like ensuring that all children and families can access care and trying to prevent mental illness by promoting wellbeing. The strategy makes a wide range of recommendations, including increased resources for public mental health services for children 12 and under, and more affordable training to help GPs and paediatricians. Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, says the government plans to take on all the recommendations and has already implemented some of them.


What teachers can do to help children return to school

According to an article in The Educator, as students prepare to exit remote learning and return to the classroom later this month, the transition will be more daunting for some than for others. For teachers, the challenge will be in helping their students bounce back not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well. Dr Emily Berger, an Educational and Developmental Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, suggests that teachers can support students by showing confidence to students that returning to school is the right decision, re-establishing school and classroom routines, providing parents with information about what students can expect when they return to school, anticipating that students may become overwhelmed with anxiety or overstimulated and inattentive at school, and building breaks into the classroom schedule to avoid student dysregulation.


New national food allergy guidelines recommend education instead of bans

ABC News reports that new allergy guidelines have recommended removing blanket bans on foods from schools and childcare centres in favour of greater education and awareness around allergies and anaphylaxis. The National Allergy Strategy aims to clarify managing and preventing anaphylaxis in schools, with research suggesting up to 1 in 20 school-aged children in Australia have food allergies. National Allergy Strategy co-chair Preeti Joshi said the guidelines would create a standardised national approach in what has traditionally been a "grey area". "We believe these variations create confusion and anxiety for parents and educators alike and, ultimately, put children's safety at risk," Dr Joshi said. 10 main principles underpin the broader national strategy to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis in schools and childcare settings, including having an anaphylaxis-management policy and ensuring staff awareness of children at risk of allergic reactions.


Homeschool registrations rising in Australia, alternative education advocates say mainstream schools need a shake-up

ABC News reports that thousands of Australian families have left the mainstream school system in the past 18 months. Home education rates across Australia have risen rapidly, with one state recording an almost 50 per cent increase in registrations. Home Education Association (HEA) president Karen Chegwidden said "Certainly, it's been driven by COVID and the uncertainty around schools closing," and that "We've also heard from people who said that their children learned a lot better at home.” "There are lots of things that we could do to make schools meet the needs of modern families. It's time for a review,” she said. She said schools should consider different operating hours to offer more flexibility to parents, and more states should introduce part-time schooling. Victoria, Tasmania and ACT offer part-time schooling, which allows students to learn both in the classroom and with their parents at home. Distance education, where students learn from home but through the school system, and enrolments at alternative schools, such as Steiner schools, have also increased.

How teaching Indigenous students about culture and history is turning lives around

ABC News reports that groundbreaking research uses big picture data that proves a connection between culture and educational achievement, offering a path to closing the gap for Indigenous students in attaining a year 12 qualification. The research from the NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Research (CESE) found the 26 per cent gap in Year 12 attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students could be closed through increasing engagement and aspirations earlier in high school. The report found the best way to do this was to improve attendance by promoting and teaching Indigenous cultural practices to students and their families. The CESE data is based on an annual survey, similar to a census, called Tell Them From Me that tracks the views of tens of thousands of students and cross-checks it against their attainment later in high school. The NSW Education Minister believes the model could be applied in schools across Australia.


One in six teachers working outside their area of expertise, documents reveal

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that more than 100,000 NSW high school students are being taught by someone without expertise in their subject due to increasing teacher shortages in areas such as maths, science and even English and history. Internal analysis done by the NSW Department of Education also showed that students whose teachers were qualified in a subject discipline – particularly in science and technology – achieved higher marks in the Higher School Certificate than those taught by a non-specialist. The workforce analysis was part of a confidential NSW Department of Education teacher supply strategy to address a looming teacher shortage, revealed by the Herald on Thursday, which warns of insufficient teacher supply in NSW by 2026. The NSW Government has pledged $124.8 million over four years to a teacher supply strategy, which will include new incentives to work in rural and regional areas, and a plan to attract STEM teachers from overseas.


Teachers target department in first step of industrial campaign

The Age reports that Victorian teachers and principals in state schools will begin industrial action on Monday with a partial ban on answering Education Department emails and attending meetings, and a boycott of one of the Andrews government’s key education improvement projects. Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the bans were just the first shot in the union’s campaign for better pay and lighter workloads. The list of protected actions the union could take includes strikes, but Ms Peace said school staff were unwilling to disadvantage students as they progressively return to face-to-face learning in term four. But she did not rule out future strike action if the government did not put forward “a fair and reasonable offer” in its negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement. The union’s log of claims includes a 21 per cent pay rise over three years plus 16.5 per cent superannuation, as well as significant cuts to face-to-face teaching hours and smaller class sizes.


Schools get millions of masks for kids before new COVID rules for year 12s

The Age reports that three million child-sized face masks will be delivered to Victorian primary schools from next week to help schools deliver on the new mandate that all children in years 3 to 6 must wear one inside classrooms. It comes as health authorities prepare to reduce the time that vaccinated VCE students must spend in self-isolation after coming into close contact with a COVID-19 case to less than 14 days, to help minimise instances of students being forced to sit out exams. Year 3 and 4 students are not due to return to Melbourne classrooms until October 26, with year 5 and 6 students to follow two days later, by which time the Andrews government expects to have received a million of the child-sized masks. The Health Department is working with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority on a proposal to ensure as many students as possible can sit their exams, rather than be in enforced isolation. Education Minister James Merlino will announce the details of new shorter isolation protocols on Thursday.


Teacher takes education department to court after being assaulted by students at Townsville school

ABC News reports that two attacks in 10 months on former teacher Noel Gorringe by students in 2018 and 2019 are at the centre of a $750,000-plus personal injury claim against the Queensland Department of Education. He claims in the lawsuit that the Northern Beaches State High School failed to provide a safe work environment and take precautions for staff working with aggressive students. It also claims the education department knew of the students' history of aggression but had not adequately informed Mr Gorringe. Mr Gorringe said the court action was the only way to force the Department to address a lack of support for staff after they have been assaulted. The court action comes as documents released to the ABC under Right to Information reveal 50 Queensland school students were expelled in a 16-month period during the pandemic over knife-related incidents. Senior Sergeant Ken Murray, coordinator of the Queensland Police Service’s I Live My Life Without A Knife educational campaign, has encouraged schools to report incidents to police.


‘Very concerned’: Fears school TikTok pranks about to escalate

The Courier Mail reports that schools under siege by students vandalising bathrooms as part of a social media-inspired challenge fear the pranks may escalate to the assault of teachers. Kelvin Grove State College Executive Principal Llew Paulger has expressed his concern about the “unprecedented acts of vandalism” in the school’s toilet blocks, noting that “TikTok users encourage followers to engage in specific conduct in monthly cycles”. He warned that the “monthly cycle” of pranks was becoming increasingly sinister, with a new challenge that encourages students to assault a staff member while filming the act. Mr Paulger said the damage happened when students asked to go to the toilet during class time, and “The college is looking at processes to more tightly regulate how and when students access the bathrooms during class time to protect the rights of all students to access a safe, clean and functional bathroom and to also protect the resources of the college from this vandalism.”



Cambridge colleges accused of exploiting ‘gig economy’ tutors (United Kingdom)

The Guardian reports that colleges at the University of Cambridge have been accused of using overworked and underpaid gig economy workers to provide the institution’s famous one-on-one tutoring system. Research by members of the University and College Union found nearly half of undergraduate tutorials, or “supervisions” as they are known, are delivered by precariously employed staff who lack proper contracts. Supervisors who spoke to the Guardian said they gained work with no guarantee of how many students they would receive, and that the £36 an hour rate failed to cover the considerable time required to prepare for supervisions, including covering entire reading lists, and mark papers, with the result that some said their pay worked out at closer to £5 an hour. Lorena Gazzotti, who is coordinating the campaign for Cambridge UCU, is planning to include demands for secure contracts, guaranteed hours and fair pay, in the UK-wide wave of strike action that is planned for later in the academic year.


A boy wrote about his suicide attempt. He didn’t realise his school’s Gaggle software was watching (United States of America)

The Guardian reports that thousands of Minneapolis student communications have been flagged by Gaggle, a digital surveillance company that saw rapid growth after the pandemic forced schools into remote learning. In an earlier investigation, the non-profit website The 74 analysed nearly 1,300 public records from Minneapolis Public Schools to expose how Gaggle subjects students to relentless, round-the-clock digital surveillance, raising significant privacy concerns for more than 5 million young people across the country who are monitored by the company’s algorithm and human content moderators. But technology experts and families with first-hand experience with Gaggle’s surveillance dragnet have raised another issue of its effectiveness with the system calling out, for example, a vulnerable student showing recovery rather than relapse or failing to flag the use of swear words. Various stakeholders have also expressed concerns about the potential for disproportionate surveillance of low-income families, the reinforcement of racial bias, and the outing of LGBTQ students.


Good news for girls – things are on the up (International)

According to an article by the World Education Blog, over the past 25 years, there has been an increase in girls’ primary completion rates of 20 percentage points. Globally, 87 per cent of girls are now completing primary school, compared to 67 per cent back in 1995. The gender gap has been slashed, as this progress has favoured girls. The most impressive progress has been in Central and Southern Asia, where just over half of all girls completed primary school in 1995, compared to 90 per cent of the current generation. Despite this overall trend, in some countries, progress is still languishing according to the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE). For example, in Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Pakistan, hardly any poor, rural young women have completed upper secondary school. In contrast, progress has been so significant that boys have been overtaken by girls in some countries such as in India, Kenya and South Africa, where more girls than boys are now completing secondary education than boys.


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