A new survey of 1000 Australian parents delved into the past two years of on-and-off at home learning, financial stresses, and how much they will be spending on essential educational items. Read more
New South Wales public schools have been provided with updated guidelines to help them manage the 2021 return to school in a COVID-safe way. Read more
Schools and preschools across South Australia have welcomed students back into the classroom for term 2 learning.
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The payment guidelines for Victoria’s public school system has been revised based on findings that some parents may have been overcharged by some schools.
An internal government review, commissioned by the Department of Education and conducted by PTR Consulting, found some schools were charging for some things that should have been free, while others didn’t have hardship policies for struggling parents.
The review also revealed the education department had received 705 complaints by parents relating to school payments over an eight-month period.
According to ABC News, Education Minister James Merlino described the new guidelines as bringing ‘clarity and consistency’ to what schools could charge for.
“What we found is that schools had been applying the parent payment policy inconsistently,” he said. “Schools have been informed of the new policy and the new policy will be enforced.”
This inconsistency is further highlighted by an analysis of MySchool data, as undertaken by Fairfax Media, which found some schools charging as much as $3243 per student over the course of 2014.
In contrast, schools in economically worse-off areas were found to be charging as little as $92 – the result of hardship policies implemented to ensure children are not disadvantaged regardless of their parents’ ability to pay fees.
See more on the new parent payment policies, and the review document, via the Department of Education website.
Anne Barwick told The Mercury that the proposed change has “the potential to impact children negatively”. “A high percentage of Tasmanian children access kindergarten – a non-compulsory year – and this change equates to children as young as three years, six months being integrated into a school environment,” she said. Further concerns have been raised by the union for childcare workers, the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations, Rural Health Tasmania and the state Opposition, causing the Government to respond with a new fact sheet on the initiative. Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced the fact sheet, saying it aims to dispel concerns raised by detractors of the plan.
“The Government is proposing to lower the compulsory starting age for prep by six months — not 18 months as is being falsely claimed by some,” he said.
“This means instead of starting prep at the age of five, Tasmanians will start at the age of four and a half years. This is a very significant but by no means a radical change, this simply brings Tasmania in-line with the rest of Australia.”Mr Rockliff confirmed Ms Barwick’s concerns, however, stating that parents will have the choice to send their kids to kindergartner sooner, starting at the age of three years and six months. The Mercury reports that Opposition education spokesperson Michelle O’Byrne contends the initiative is not backed up by solid evidence.
“All that Tasmanians have been told by the Government is that the justification for changing the school starting age is that it will bring the state into line with the rest of the country … there is no definitive Australian school starting age.”A “Stop lowering the school age in Tasmania” petition organised by United Voice has so far been signed by 2,561 people. The school starting age fact sheet can be found on the Tasmanian Department of Education website.]]>