Page 895 - Week 03 - Thursday, 7 April 2022

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Reviews can also be conducted after a concern is raised about a school’s non-compliance with the act. Should a school be found to be non-compliant with the act, at present, the only power available is to cancel a non-government school’s registration. However, cancellation of a school’s registration for a low-level instance of non-compliance is disproportionate; therefore, in consultation with key stakeholders, a wider range of actions has been developed.

In the instances of low to medium risk non-compliance, following advice from the board, a proprietor of a non-government school can be issued with a compliance direction. For medium to high non-compliance, following advice from the board, the amendments enable the minister to take regulatory action such as imposing or amending a registration condition for the school, cancelling the school’s registration or cancelling the school’s registration and disqualifying the proprietor of the school from applying for a further registration.

As I said previously, the majority of non-government schools already consistently deliver high quality educational services and are compliant with their legislative requirements; therefore we do not expect to have to take regulatory action. However, by including a wider range of regulatory actions in the act, we have the ability to do so, should an instance of serious non-compliance arise.

This means that the community can continue to be confident in the education provided by the non-government sector and know that oversight of the registration of these schools is supported by a strong set of registration standards and the advice of an advisory board comprised of members with appropriate experience and expertise.

The amendments in the Education Amendment Bill 2022 take important steps in ensuring that children and young people have access to education, by providing clarity as to when a suspension, transfer, expulsion or exclusion can be enacted, and outlines the steps that must be taken prior to taking these actions. It also ensures oversight of student movement through the reporting of unenrolments, terminations of contract, transfers, expulsions and exclusions by all schooling sectors.

The bill also streamlines the non-government school registration and review process, outlines clear registration standards and introduces the registration standards advisory board to support the oversight of non-government schools. It also includes powers to take regulatory action, should a school be non-compliant with the act. These changes will ensure that non-government schools can get on with the core business of educating our children and young people.

Further phases of legislative reform will continue over time and be informed through consultation with key stakeholders, including non-government schools and education unions, in the same way as for this bill presented today, in continued implementation of the Future of Education Strategy.

This government is committed to ensuring the protection of children and young people, and this bill makes our commitment clear. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

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