Weekly Wrap: September 26, 2019

26 September 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.



ATARs could be scrapped as education needs expand

According to the Financial Review, the chair of the government's new Review of Senior Secondary Pathways, Professor Peter Shergold told The Australian Financial Review Australia focuses "far too strongly on a single measure of achievement" as getting a job or doing further education is dependent on many characteristics, including non-academic ones. The chancellor of Western Sydney University said the shortcomings of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank fed into a distorted array of options for what to do after leaving school, which pushed year 12 students into choices they weren't equipped to make. Professor Shergold said an alternative would be mandatory, reportable minimum standards for basic skills with equal emphasis on skills and experiences outside the school gate. His comments come a week after the Federal Education Minister told the AFR he did not think raising ATARs for education degrees to a higher minimum standard would improve school education.


Digital impact on Australian kids to be put under the microscope

SBS News reports that Australian children will be part of a world first study to understand the impact digital technology is having on their first eight years of life. The Morrison government has pledged $34.9 million to help establish a research centre based at the Queensland University of Technology. The new ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child will receive another $32 million from partner organisations both from within Australia and also Europe, Asia and America. The study will lead to resources to reduce harm children experience from technology. Lead researcher Susan Danby hopes to create a clear understanding of the digital impact on children, saying that there are currently mixed messages. The study will consider problems related to screen time, social media use, gaming, and online safety.


Global climate strike sees “hundreds of thousands” of Australians rally across the country

According to the ABC News, organisers estimate that 300,000 Australians gathered at climate change rallies around the country in one of the largest protest events in the nation's history. The global day of action, led by Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, happened three days before the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York. Organisers said they expected millions of people to turn out worldwide in 150 countries. In Australia, demonstrations took place in all eight capital cities as well as 104 other centres. The Australian protesters called for the Federal Government to commit to: no new coal, oil or gas projects; 100 per cent renewable energy generation and exports by 2030; and funding for "a just transition and job creation for all fossil fuel industry workers and communities". The movement has been controversial in Australia, with some teachers being accused of bias and bringing politics into the classroom, and the Federal Government linking the demonstrations to flagging test results.


New Resources to Help Parents Engage in Student Learning

Independent Schools Victoria reports in its weekly briefing that the Federal Minister for Education, Mr Dan Tehan, has launched a series of toolkits to help parents support their child’s education. The online resource, Gearing Up for Parent Engagement in Student Learning, was created by Catholic School Parents Australia, with funding from the Australian Government, and is freely available to parents and educators in all school systems. Mr Tehan said that parents should be encouraged to actively engage in their child’s education and that the toolkits would help them “navigate some of the tricky junctures in a child’s journey through the school years”. He said that the toolkits also provided advice to teachers on “how to effectively communicate with parents, and work with them to provide a strong support network for students”.


Western Australian Government splashes $200m in public school maintenance blitz

WA Today reports that every public school in Western Australia will get a share in $200 million to address high-priority maintenance works, which the state government hopes will help create thousands of local jobs. The announcement was made at Leeming Primary School on Sunday that all 789 public schools would benefit from the investment. The package is expected to create an estimated 3150 jobs for local electricians, painters, plumbers, builders and carpenters, including 1890 in metropolitan Perth and 1260 in regional WA. Each school will receive a portion of $35 million to address maintenance items or identified minor works listed in Building Condition Assessment reports. The remaining $165 million of funding will be allocated to schools for other targeted maintenance works, upgrades or refurbishments.


Bullying and violence inquiry into Canberra schools backs protection orders, social workers

According to the ABC News, a Canberra boy, mentally crushed by regular bullying, came home to his worried parents and held a butter knife to his throat. When they told the school's deputy principal about their son's behaviour, "he commented, 'Well, we all know he won't achieve anything with a butter knife.'" "I could not believe the flippant response," his parents wrote in a submission to an ACT parliamentary inquiry into bullying and violence in schools. Their tale of frustration was one of many told to the closed inquiry, with parents and students alleging schools often ignored abuse and attacks on children, or minimised their seriousness. It prompted a raft of recommendations, handed down last week, to improve outcomes for students, including employing full-time social workers in schools and better enforcement of Personal Protection Orders (PPOs). The inquiry found bullying in Canberra schools was not common, but some cases had been handled poorly due to poor practice, communication, reporting and staff training.


Hindi, Tamil among new languages to be taught in New South Wales schools

According to SBS News, Tamil and Macedonian are among five new languages to be taught in NSW schools from next year. The NSW public school language curriculum has also been expanded to offer Hindi, Punjabi and Persian, taking the number of languages on offer to 69. Professor Ken Cruickshank at the University of Sydney's School of Education and Social Work told SBS News learning a language should be made compulsory. "Victoria has done it and it would be great if we took that final step because to me all kids should have access to languages, you're not educated without it and we know that learning a language really helps you with all your school subjects," he said. In Britain, it is compulsory for students to study a language until the age of 14 and 50 per cent of American students study a language for their final exams. Australia's uptake of languages ranks among the lowest of all OECD countries.


How schools use social media in their marketing

According to The Educator, a new survey has revealed the ways in which social media is being used to help schools stand out from the crowd in a competitive education marketplace. The School Marketing and Social Media Survey 2019, conducted by imageseven, received key insights from more than 370 schools across the globe with the goal of understanding how they are using social media in their school marketing. According to the report’s findings, a staggering 70 per cent of school marketers chose Facebook as their most important social media platform for school marketing. However, this is in decline compared to last year’s findings, where Facebook was overwhelmingly the most popular platform (86 per cent). The next most popular platforms were Instagram (23 per cent), Twitter (3 per cent) and Google Plus (1 per cent). The survey also found that school marketers are still time poor. To combat this issue, 44 per cent of respondents reported experimenting with scheduling tools.


News Corp Australia launches education-focused editorial campaign across all metro, major regional and local titles

Mumbrella reports that News Corp Australia has launched an editorial campaign to run across all metro, major regional and local publications in the form of a three-part education investigation. The campaign will be paired with Schools Hub, a comparison tool for parents with information on every school in the country. Schools Hub will be hosted on a new education vertical which will include curriculum advice, expert tips for parents, University and TAFE news, as well as all the latest school and education news. The launches will be supported by an editorial and marketing campaign across every metro, major regional and local News Corp publication. Schools Hub will be released in three chapters over three months, ahead of it becoming an annual fixture. The first chapter will explore student-teacher ratios in classrooms, enrolments and school capacity. Chapter two, to be revealed in October, will look into attendance, while chapter three, published in November-December, will put school funding, income and fees under the spotlight.


Dolly Everett's suicide leads teen to create “powerful and relevant” cyberbullying ad

The ABC News reports that a striking new ad about cyberbullying, directed by a 15-year-old girl, has been lauded as "brave", "disturbing" and "relevant" less than two years after the suicide of Amy “Dolly” Everett shocked the nation. Dolly was just 14 when she died early last year after being tormented by cyberbullies. Now, stirred by her death, teenager Charlotte McLaverty has created a powerful short film that depicts how modern bullying is more than just sticks and stones in the playground. One in five young people report being cyberbullied in any one year, according to research by the advocacy organisation Dolly's Dream, which was established by Dolly's parents last year. The organisation has this week launched a new internet hub to help parents better understand and deal with online safety, including bullying. Australia's eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, also operates a cyberbullying reporting scheme for people aged 18 or under, and can issue an order to have material taken down.



With harrowing ads, gun safety groups push a scarier reality (United States)

According to The New Daily, going back to school means worrying about what to wear, deciding what classes to take and, increasingly, knowing what to do if someone appears on campus with a gun. This reality in American classrooms is reflected in a harrowing ad released last week by Sandy Hook Promise, a gun safety advocacy group created after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Since the Sandy Hook shooting, more than 400 people have been shot on campuses around the country. For many students, the excitement of returning to school is increasingly mixed with the anxiety of active shooter drills and shelter-in-place tutorials. In response, gun safety activists are escalating their efforts. They are investing more in ads, promoting them more aggressively and making them far more provocative and uncomfortable to view.


“Shameful rise”: 18 per cent of children now leave school as low achievers (United Kingdom)

According to The Guardian, the number of children leaving school without basic qualifications by the age of 18 has risen by nearly a quarter in the past three years, according to a report by the children’s commissioner for England. Almost one in five children (18 per cent) left school last year without the government benchmark of five good GCSEs, or the equivalent technical qualifications, a 24 per cent increase since 2015, the study found. The figures for children with special educational needs are particularly stark with almost half (45 per cent) failing to reach what is known as level 2 attainment by the time they finish compulsory education. The children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, described the figures as shameful and called on the government to urgently investigate. The report, which is based on analysis of official statistics, also includes local authority breakdowns.


How other countries get parents to vaccinate their kids (and what Australia can learn) (Global)

According to an article in The Conversation, countries around the world, including Australia, are using different ways to get parents to vaccinate their children. The researchers’ new research, published in the journal Milbank Quarterly, looks at diverse mandatory vaccination policies across the world. Until recently, many governments preferred vaccination to be voluntary. They relied on persuasion and encouragement to try to overcome parents’ hesitancy or refusal to vaccinate their children. However, recent measles outbreaks have made those methods less politically tenable. The rise of pro-vaccination activism and the polarisation of public debate about immunisation policy has motivated governments to take a more hard-line approach. Early evidence from Italy, France, California and Australia indicates that this has led to higher vaccination rates. Australia’s federal “No Jab, No Pay” policy removes entitlements and childcare subsidies from unvaccinated families. Four Australian states also have “No Jab, No Play” policies to limit vaccine refusers’ access to childcare. California bans unvaccinated children from school, and Italy fines their parents. France classifies vaccine refusal as “child endangerment” and can impose hefty fines.

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