Posted June 01, 2019 08:02:10The Australian Government has unveiled its new school climate strategy, with the aim of addressing the toxic school climate and promoting the importance of teaching in the classroom.
Key points:The Australian government will provide $15 million over four years to support teachers in schools where they are experiencing problems with toxic school climatesThe Australian Education Union is among those calling for an overhaul of school climate policiesThe Australian Council of Social Services, which represents the sector, says the policy could lead to “disastrous consequences”The policy will be presented to the country’s education ministers today, ahead of the 2018 Federal Election.
The policy is the result of a $50 million initiative by the Australian Government, and the creation of a new department within the Education Department.
The Department of Education is responsible for supporting teachers and ensuring they are safe and healthy while teaching in schools.
It also oversees the National Quality Assessment System, which has been criticised for being inadequate in assessing students’ progress in their education.
The National Quality Assessments (NQAS) system assess the performance of all schools in Australia, with NQAS rating each school on a scale of one to five stars.
School climate is a sensitive issue in Australia.
A study last year by the Education Quality Commission (EQC) found that a quarter of students in Queensland’s schools were struggling with a toxic school environment.
“A school climate of toxic and unsafe environments for children is a major public health risk for the Australian community,” the EQC said in a statement.
“School climate can have a profound impact on the wellbeing of children and their ability to learn and engage in learning.”
The ABC understands the department will also be looking at the issue of toxic school environments in a new Department of Health (DOH) body.
“The department will look at the impacts of toxic schools and how schools can best tackle the problem,” Education Minister Chris Hartcher said.
The new school-climate policy will support the creation and maintenance of schools in schools that are at risk of toxic environments, such as those that are in need of specialised education or schools in remote areas.
“We are making a significant investment in education and training in the community, but we also need to take this issue seriously, to make sure we are getting the most effective and appropriate response to this problem,” Mr Hartcher told reporters.
“What we are doing is making sure that we have an effective school climate that is able to address the health, safety and wellbeing of students.”
Mr Hartcher will also provide $5 million over three years to assist teachers who are experiencing issues with toxic climate, with a further $15m funding commitment to the Queensland Government in 2018-19.
The Australian Christian Education Institute (ACEI) is calling for a national review of the current school climate policy and for a rethinking of the NSW and ACT policy, saying the current policy is failing to provide sufficient support for teachers.
“If this is to be implemented properly, the state and territory must consider creating a national school climate review,” ACEI said.
“An independent review of all aspects of school climates across Australia should be undertaken to determine the best approach to climate management.”
It also calls for a review of toxic climate in Australian school buildings, with an emphasis on the role of specialisation in ensuring safe and positive learning environments.
“It is essential that we understand the effects of school environments on learning, especially for children and young people with learning difficulties,” ACEII CEO Tim Lakin said.
The ACEI is one of many organisations calling for more resources to be spent on education.
“Many schools have very high levels of bullying and a high level of anxiety,” Mr Lakin told reporters in Brisbane.
“Some schools have become toxic and dangerous environments, where students are afraid to leave school.”