Western Australian Registration -2020 Guide Released

Published
17 October 2019

The Western Australian Department of Education’s Guide to the Registration Standards and Other Requirements for Non-Government Schools has been updated (and re-named as the 2020 Guide) and recently made available on the Western Australian Department of Education’s website. It replaces the July 2018 version of the Guide and will take effect from 1 January 2020.

Background

Under section 159 of the School Education Act 1999 (WA) (Education Act), the Minister for Education and Training may determine standards for non-government schools (Standards) and non-government schools must comply with them in order to become and stay registered as a school.  As discussed in our recent article, the Standards have also been recently updated. Non-government schools must also comply with other requirements set out in section 160(1) of the Education Act.

The Guide sets out and explains both the Standards and the other requirements guiding decisions about the registration of non-government schools. It is stated to have been developed in consultation with the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA) and Catholic Education WA (CEWA).

The Guide is divided into chapters with only one of the chapters dealing with the Standards. The other chapters address the other requirements under section 160(1).

The Guide has been significantly updated in the 2020 version. These changes are discussed below.

Applying for Registration Renewal

Although non-government schools must be compliant with the Standards from the start of the 2020 school year, in relation to non-government schools applying for registration renewal:

  • non-government schools whose registration expires on or before 30 June 2020 will have their renewal applications assessed against the 2018 Standards
  • non-government schools whose registration expires on or after 1 July 2020 will have their renewal applications assessed against the 2020 Standards.

Structure of the Guide

The 2018 Guide was made up of 12 chapters; these 12 chapters have been consolidated into seven in the 2020 Guide. Here is a table showing the consolidation of chapters:

 2018 Guide
 2020 Guide
1. Ownership, Management or Control of the Governing Body
1. School Governance
2. Governing Body’s Constitution
1. School Governance
3. Fit and Proper Membership
1. School Governance
4. Observance of the Registration Standards
2. Registration Standards
5. Separation of Governance and Day-to-day Management
1. School Governance
6. Governing Body Accountability
1. School Governance
7. Standard of Education
3. Standard of Education
8. Levels of Care
4. Levels of Care
9. School Planning Proposal
6. The Application Process
10. International Students
5. International Students
11. The Application Process
6. The Application Process
12. Other Governing Body Obligations
7. Other Governing Body Obligations

Chapters 1,2,3,5 and 6 in the 2018 Guide have been combined into one chapter-Chapter 1 in the 2020 Guide. Chapters 9 and 11 in the 2018 Guide have been amalgamated into Chapter 6 in the 2020 Guide.

 

Definitions

The relevant definitions are added in at the end of each chapter or at the start of each of the Standards in Chapter 2 in the 2020 Guide, and the entire “Definitions” section from the 2020 Standards can be found in the last few pages of the 2020 Guide.

There has also been a change in relation to where the listing of supporting evidence may be found. This used to be found at the beginning of each chapter but is now found towards the end.

There is a new section titled “Frequently Used Terms” in the “Using this Guide” section towards the beginning of the 2020 Guide. This replaces the larger “Terms Used” section in the 2018 Guide.

 

Chapter 1 (School Governance)

This chapter sets out five relevant sub-sections in section 160(1) of the Education Act that non-government schools must comply with as well as the “evidence related to governance”.

 

Chapter 2 (Registration Standards)

The Chapter in relation to the Standards sets out each Standard in full and also sets out the Director-General of Education’s “considerations in exercising a judgement or granting a waiver where relevant”. In the 2018 Guide this chapter also explains the evidence that may be requested in support of each Standard and explanatory notes on the evidence if needed.  In the 2020 Guide however this has been replaced by “relevant definitions” for each Standard (except in relation to Standard 11 (Financial Resources) which does have an “evidence” section).

There are also “Notes” set out in relation to a number of the Standards. In some cases, the information that was provided under “evidence” in the 2018 Guide is absent in the 2020 Guide and, in other cases, it has been moved into the “Director-General’s considerations” section. Further there are many changes throughout Chapter 2 in relation to what is required to show compliance with the Standards.

We discussed in some detail in our recent article the differences between the 2018 Standards and the 2020 Standards. We won’t repeat that information here, but it is worth pointing out that the 2020 Guide provides new detailed guidance in relation to the Standards that have been significantly changed as follows:

  • Standard 6 (Enrolment and Attendance Procedures)-in relation to new legal requirements about details to be contained in an enrolment register including a student’s Medicare number and the recording of the immunisation status of every new student enrolled, collecting current immunisation history statements on enrolment and not enrolling students who do not provide the required immunisation-related information (discussed in more detail in this School Governance article)
  • Standard 7 (Critical and Emergency Incidents)-the 2020 Guide references the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • Standard 9 (Complaints)-the 2020 Guide notes that the National Office of Child Safety has produced a guide to complaints handling consistent with the National Child Safe Organisations Principles (which are now referred to in Standard 9), refers to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse’s definition of a “culturally safe environment” and sets out Principle 6 and Principle 9’s key actions areas (as these are also referred to in Standard 9). The reference to the “Australian Standard for Complaints Management in Organizations AUS/NZ [AS/NZS 10002:2014]” in the 2018 Guide is not in the 2020 Guide
  • Standard 10 (Child Abuse Prevention)-the 2020 Guide refers to the resources developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the National Office of Child Safety and the Commissioner for Children and Young People WA. It also refers to the Records Retention & Disposal Schedule for Non-Government Schools published by the Australian Society of Archivists
  • Standard 14 (Delivery of the Curriculum)-the guidance in relation to this Standard has been expanded in relation to learning support, cultural needs, spiritual needs, unreasonable travel time, temporarily living or travelling overseas, elite performance, diagnosed illness and other special circumstances

We also note that the new Standard 10.3 requires schools to co-operate in the Multi-Agency Protocol for Education Options for Young People Charged with Harmful Sexual Behaviours (Protocol). It is defined in the 2020 Standards as follows:

“The Multi-Agency Protocol, developed by the Department of Education for all education sectors in Western Australia, describes the process by which information about young people charged with harmful sexual behaviours is shared and managed by governing bodies and schools in accordance with sections 28A-C of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.”

At the time of publication of the 2020 Standards and our related recent article the Protocol was not publicly available. It is still not publicly available notwithstanding that it is referred to several times in the 2020 Guide. 

 

Chapter 3 (Standard of Education)

There is far more detail in the list of evidence required in the 2020 Guide in relation to this chapter. There are also specific ‘governing body matters’ that need to be addressed within this Chapter in addition to the requirements in Chapter 1.

 

Chapter 4 (Levels of Care)

There is far less detail than in the 2018 Guide.

The seven dot points of the evidence list cover most of the headings in the 2018 Explanatory Notes section for this chapter.

There are also specific governing body matters that need to be addressed within this chapter such as “the school’s governing body is expected to undertake comprehensive risk audits in relation to child safety”.

 

Chapter 5 (International Students)

Apart from a change in the ordering of the headings and a re-order of the wording regarding the authority of the Director General, there is no substantive change of any merit in this chapter although the Overview now refers to the 2019 ESOS Regulations (which we wrote about in a recent article).

There are specific governing body matters that need to be addressed within this chapter.

 

Chapter 6 (The Application Process)

There is a new additional section at the commencement of this chapter- Supporting Evidence – New School or Significant Registration Change. Chapters 9 and 11 of the 2018 Guide have been combined into Chapter 6 in the 2020 Guide.

There are specific governing body matters that need to be addressed within this chapter.

The format of the Application Form has changed. Schools need to download the most recent Application form. The 2020 Application Form can be found at: https://www.education.wa.edu.au/renew-a-school-registration.

 

Chapter 7 (Other Governing Body Obligations)

There have been no substantive changes in this chapter.

What Should Schools be Doing to Prepare for the 2020 Guide?

Schools should start to familiarise themselves with the 2020 Guide.

Schools whose registration expires on or after 1 July 2020 will need to be prepared to have their registration compliance assessed against the more onerous 2020 Standards and the 2020 Guide.

Madeleine McDonell

Madeleine is a Legal Research Consultant at CompliSpace. Madeleine has worked as a solicitor (in both Sydney and London) for over twenty years. She has also recently taught a corporations law subject at The University of Sydney Business School for several years. Madeleine holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the University of New South Wales and a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from The University of Technology.