Published: 14 August 2017

Independent Schools Queensland - Weekly Information Update

Independent Schools Queensland distributes weekly updates throughout the year to keep members informed about issues affecting schools and the independent schooling sector.

New Legislation Enshrines School Choice
New streamlined legislation governing the establishment and regulation of Queensland non-state schools has been passed in State Parliament. The Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Bill 2017 was passed with bi-partisan support (10/8). In a media statement (see Media Releases) Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) Executive Director David Robertson welcomed the passage of the legislation which resolved key matters ISQ had been advocating for change on. “The Bill has streamlined the approval process for non-state schools and in particular has removed a key piece of red tape by marrying together what used to be two separate processes for accreditation and funding eligibility,” Mr Robertson said. “This change confirms the right of every student in an approved not-for-profit school to receive government support for their education.” Mr Robertson thanked Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones and Members of Parliament who spoke on the Bill for their strong endorsement and support for non-state schools and their recognition of the contribution non-state schools make to their local communities. During the second reading of the Bill, Ms Jones confirmed the very strong bi-partisan support that existed in the Parliament that “every parent deserves the right to choice when it comes to their child’s education”. Ms Jones acknowledged ISQ and other key stakeholders from the non-state school sector for “their valuable input into the development of the reforms to the regulation of non-state schools”. Ms Jones said the Bill made “important improvements to the legislative scheme for regulating non-state schools by reducing red tape and streamlining the accreditation and funding eligibility processes”.

Child Carers Fall Behind in Their Schooling
Research released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies this week showed children who care for a sick or disabled adult at home are up to two years behind in their schooling. The Courier-Mail (9/8) reported on the findings quoting figures that “almost 40 percent of Australian teens aged 14 and 15 help someone elderly or with a long-term health condition or disability”. In a media statement (see Media Releases) Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Director, Anne Hollonds said: “While caring is a normal part of many young people’s lives, for a small group being a carer significantly and negatively impacts on their schooling and by extension, their life chances.” AIFS economist Dr Diana Warren said the report, Young Carers, found children suffered a substantial negative impact on their academic achievement. “For example, boys who spent two or more hours per day as carers were the equivalent of 1.9 years behind their classmates in Year 9 NAPLAN Reading. Girls who spent two or more hours per day as carers were 1.6 years behind in Year 9 NAPLAN Reading, than classroom peers without these responsibilities”. Dr Warren said: “Young carers were also behind their peers in Year 9 NAPLAN Numeracy testing. Boys and girls providing daily care were approximately 15 months behind fellow students who were not carers.”

Minister Guarantees No Change to Religious Instruction in State Schools
Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones confirmed in State Parliament this week (7/8) that Labor’s policy on religious instruction in state schools had not changed and that children could exchange Christmas cards and discuss their faith in the playground. In response to a question from LNP Member of Parliament Fiona Simpson about the policy, Ms Jones told the Parliament: “As I have been saying publicly for more than a fortnight, I can look her in the eye and give her an absolute rolled-gold guarantee. My position is the same as what Labor’s position has always been, and that is that we support religious instruction in state schools and we will continue to do so.” The Australian (11/8) reported that a meeting of the state’s Religious Instruction Quality Assurance taskforce, was told “there has been no change — and will be no change — to religious instruction policy in Queensland”. However, The Australian reported that some religious group representatives had questioned the new advice in the ¬Department of Education and Training’s revised reviews of several religious instruction providers, which reminded religious instructors “that students should not be encouraged to recruit other students at the school.” The Australian Christian Lobby’s Wendy Francis told The Australian she welcomed the minister’s intervention but also called for further clarification. “What is meant by children not being allowed to recruit other children? Can they not invite them to a kids club being run at their church?” she said.

ISQ ED Briefs Regional School Leaders on State of Play in Education
Independent school leaders and governors in regional areas of Queensland have been briefed on the state of play in school education at the state and national levels by Independent Schools Queensland during the Executive Director’s annual Strategic Briefing Tour. ISQ ED David Robertson has updated school leaders on Gonski 2.0, school-age population trends and major education policy reforms and reviews during his tour. ABC regional radio stations have covered the tour interviewing Mr Robertson on how the new federal funding arrangements will impact independent schools, how Queensland performed in the 2017 NAPLAN tests and the status of the state’s senior secondary and tertiary entrance reforms. In his media statements supporting each event (see Media Releases) Mr Robertson congratulated independent schools on their commitment to continuing to raise the bar and challenge their students to achieve their best. “When we look at other test results, such as the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), it is pleasing to see that Australia’s independent schooling sector is achieving results equal to some of the best countries in the world,” he said. Next week Mr Robertson will address principals and leaders in Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. Registrations for the events can be made through ISQ’s Event System.

School Events & Awards
Girls Write Up This unique full-day festival for teenagers aged 12–18 teaches empowerment through writing and sharing stories. It will bring interstate and local writers, poets and other thinkers together to inspire students. The festival has been successfully running in Victoria and New South Wales for a number of years. This is the first year it will be offered in Queensland and will be partnered and hosted with the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane on 24 November 2017. Festival organisers, The Stella Prize organisation, have extended an invitation to teenage students from independent schools to attend the Brisbane event. Tickets are $35 with subsidies. It is limited to 100 students. Visit the website to register for the event.
STEM Awards The winners of this year’s Peter Doherty Awards for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education were announced at a special awards ceremony on Friday evening (11 August). The 25 winners were selected from 110 applications from state and non-state schools in metropolitan, regional and rural Queensland. A list of the winners will be published on the Education Queensland website by Monday (14 August).
ISQ Media Centre

Source:  Independent Schools Queensland Weekly Information Update No. 26, 2017.