Thursday, 30 August 2012

Information provided about the new Port Sorell School

Department of Education Media Release

30 Aug 2012

The Department of Education has provided regular updates about the new $13 million primary school at Port Sorell, General Manager Learning Services (North-West), Bruce Cameron, said today.

Mr Cameron said that the Future Directions Group, which included representatives from Moriarty and Wesley Vale primary schools, had met for 18 months to discuss long-term strategies for the educational needs of all students in the Moriarty, Wesley Vale and Port Sorell areas.

“In addition, late last year parents responded to a survey about where they intended to enrol their children for the 2013 school year,” Mr Cameron said.

Parents will be asked early in Term 3 to confirm their intentions for the 2013 school year.

“Throughout this year, regular updates about the new Port Sorell School have been provided through school newsletters at the surrounding schools to keep school communities up to date,” Mr Cameron.

Mr Cameron said that a community forum at the Wesley Vale Primary School Hall tonight would be another opportunity for community members to ask questions about the new school and to further discuss future educational provision within the area.

“Following recent information sessions, there will be an Open Day on the Port Sorell School site on 13 October where community members can find out further information about the new school,” Mr Cameron said.

Participation in physical activities

Department of Education Media Release

30 Aug 2012

To be attributed to Liz Banks, Deputy Secretary Early Years and Schools

The Department of Education believes that children should be encouraged to participate in physical activities that help develop their fitness and that allow them to be adventurous.

It is very natural for children to want to try out physical activities. Many students would have watched the recent coverage of the Olympics where they saw role models to emulate.

Schools actively encourage creativity and free play within a supervised and safe environment.

In all physical activity there is a possible risk of injury and that risk is associated with many things that we do in life. 

It is not reasonable to prevent children from taking part in physical activities because there is some chance of injury. 

Schools’ duty of care towards students includes assessing risk and intervening when it is believed that an activity poses a danger to children’s safety.

Teaching children the skills of particular games and sports also assists in minimising risks.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Rocherlea site not neglected

Department of Education Media Release

27 Aug 2012

To be attributed to Andrew Finch, Education Department Deputy Secretary

23 August 2012

The Department of Education has put in additional security measures at the site, including the boarding up of windows and additional security patrols in a bid to reduce vandalism which is a community issue.

It is normal practice for the Department of Education to employ additional security services for vacant departmental property as they are major sites in local communities which may attract vandalism. Since September 2009, around $50,000 has been spent on security.

The process of disposal of a departmental site takes time. The process includes the creation of titles and statutory approvals. The length of time this takes depends on each individual site and the various processes that are required to dispose of the site correctly.

In the case of the former Rocherlea Primary school site, the process was extended by the accommodation of various community projects, such as the Rocherlea Football Club which had a number of months to remove covered walkways and a gymnasium and the granting of land for a community garden.

The former students of Rocherlea are now benefiting from a brand new State of the Art school and the intention remains to dispose of the old school as quickly as possible.

Workforce Renewal Incentive Program - Relief Teachers

Department of Education Media Release

27 Aug 2012

To be attributed to Andrew Finch, Education Department Deputy Secretary

23 August 2012

Staff who receive an incentive payment are unable to reapply for a permanent Tasmanian State Service position for a period of two years.

However, a deed of release is executed for every employee who receives a Workplace Renewal Incentive Program (WRIP) and the deed expressly provides that the former employee may undertake relief work without any exclusion period.

It is a common practice for schools to engage former teachers to undertake relief work. This is particularly so given the teacher would have local knowledge and relevant teaching experience in the subject matter or sector and also that it is sometimes difficult to obtain suitable relief teachers. There is no intention to stop this occurring as schools already struggle to source relief teachers at various times.

A total of 35 teachers registered for relief teaching after accepting payment under the Workplace Renewal Incentives Program. Five of these were in the North.

There are no direct costs in taking the employees back as relief teachers. The costs are in the work they perform in schools as relief teachers which is part of the everyday function of schools.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Education Staff Numbers

Department of Education Media Release

22 Aug 2012

This response can be attributed to Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch.

14 August 2012

Q: Why has the number of staff in Education increased by 153 FTEs since March 2012? You says it's "seasonal", what does that mean? Surely relief teachers and aides not counted over Christmas would have been back at school and included in the March numbers?

A: Direct comparisons from pay to pay, month to month or during non-uniform periods (i.e. March to June) as a measure of staffing change is problematic within the Department of Education due to the seasonal nature and volatility of staffing within the department.

The best measure of staffing change is from one point in one year to the same point in the next year (i.e. June to June) although the employment of casuals, temporaries and relief staff, which varies based on specific initiatives and amounts of illness for example, does still impact on the department’s employment numbers at any given time.

Education numbers have increased from the March Report and this reflects the seasonal variation across the school year which is affected by casual, temporary and fixed term employment on a school term basis.  This potential for seasonal variation for Education has been disclosed in all of the Budget Savings Reports the Government has published to date and the Minister for Finance referred to this yesterday and it was referred to in his media release.

The figures referred to from the State Service Structural Reforms table (table 2.2) can’t be directly compared to the movement in employment numbers reflected in table 2.1 and they are not intended to.  Table 2.2 reports figures against each of the four categories in the table.  In regard to the Workforce Renewal Incentive Program numbers they are not primarily intended to reduce staff.

WRIPs are described in the report(p5) as a strategy to renew and reprofile an aging state service workforce by offering older employees an incentive to take early retirement.  In a number of cases these people would be replaced by younger employees.  On that basis you can’t really make the assumption that the movement in the number of WRIPs can be directly reconciled to the movement in Education FTEs.

Out of home area enrolment

Department of Education Media Release

22 Aug 2012

These lines can be attributed to Education Deputy Secretary Liz Banks.

15 August

The Department of Education, through school principals, is currently consulting with school communities on the draft Enrolment, Attendance and Participation Policy and the draft Enrolment of Students in Out-of-Home-Area Schools Procedure.

At this point the policies are in draft stage and a Reference Group (including representatives from the Department, Principals, the AEU, parent and school communities) is undertaking the consultation process.

Feedback from school communities to the Reference Group is encouraged and all feedback will be considered.

A number of submissions have been received to date, and further submissions are expected over the coming weeks.

The timeframes for implementation of the policy, procedure, and framework are dependent on the extent of feedback received and are yet to be finalised.

The Reference Group will meet again early in Term 3.

The Department will work with schools and school communities to ensure smooth implementation of any new processes.

The draft policy is similar to out-of-area enrolment guidelines in all other Australian states and territories.

Fraud Case

Department of Education Media Release

22 Aug 2012

To be attributed to Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch

15 August

• The Department of Education does have a robust internal control system around the administration of its financial operations.

• As well as an ongoing audit program, however over the past 10 years, the Department of Education has experienced a couple of cases of fraud.

• As part of a response to minimise any future occurrence of fraud, the Department has implemented a new centralised financial management system.

• This approach improves overall control of financial transactions. For example, rigorous electronic payment authorisation processes and strong central controls over the creation of creditors mean that the opportunities for inappropriate transactions and fraud are minimised.

• School resources are vital for the delivery of education programs in Tasmanian Government schools, and the Department is confident that the new improved system will help minimise any fraud risk.

• The Department is also pursuing repayment of the stolen funding through insurance arrangements.


Department of Education Media Release

22 Aug 2012

The lines can be attributed to the General Manager Learning Services South Judy Travers.

15 August 2012

Schools and individual teachers manage the issue of plagiarism in a range of ways depending on the circumstance and the age of the child.

Teachers know their students well and will follow up if they suspect a student’s work is not original.

As part of the curriculum students learn how to reference appropriately and how to use references ethically and legally. They are also taught skills of how to summarise and paraphrase in English.

The Department of Education does not recommend specific plagiarism software but some teachers may use these.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Safe schools online

Department of Education Media Release

16 Aug 2012

The Department of Education today said it provided guidelines and support for staff in navigating issues that may arise from social media.

Deputy Secretary, Liz Banks said the Department’s Protective Practices for Staff – guidelines for schools and colleges outlines duty of care by school staff for their students and the Department of Education for its employees.

“The guidelines include advice for teachers not to engage in correspondence of a personal nature with students including letters, email, phone, SMS text, Facebook and MySpace.

“This does not include class postcards or Christmas, birthday or bereavement cards.

“The guidelines also provide advice to teachers against contacting individual students by using social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace or to become overly familiar with students through this medium, such as becoming ‘friends’ on Facebook.”

Ms Banks said the Department was currently working to produce a Social Media Policy.

“The policy is currently in draft form with an aim to release it in Term III to provide all staff with clarity, security and guidance.”

Ms Banks said the Department had many mechanisms in place to promote a safe, supportive and respectful school community.

“The Department’s Web Safety in Schools policy is designed to ensure that Tasmanian students participate safely in technology-based learning and use technology responsibly.

“Schools are required to develop their own policies to address bullying, including cyber bullying, appropriate use of the internet and mobile phones, and to put in place school wide approaches to developing respectful and positive behaviour.

“All Tasmanian Government schools have been able to access the Roar Educate Cyber Safety program which addresses cyber bullying, online identity, social networking, privacy, gaming, digital footprint, web research copyright and cyber security.

“Students also learn how to be aware and responsible users of technology through the curriculum.”

Ms Banks said that all members of the school community had a right to be safe at school and that there was a strong connection between students’ wellbeing, behaviour and learning.

“Students are more likely to do well and to behave well in a caring, supportive environment where the relationships are respectful.

“While schools are able to impose sanctions for inappropriate behaviour, they also strive to build environments that teach students how to behave appropriately.

“Online safety is a shared responsibility between community, parents, schools and students.”

Friday, 10 August 2012

Old Rocherlea Primary School site

Department of Education Media Release

10 Aug 2012

Andrew Finch – Deputy Secretary Department of Education:

The Department of Education has been conscious of local community issues in regard to the old Rocherlea Primary School site.

The Department of Education transferred a small portion of the land to the Department of Health and Human Services at no cost for use by the Northern Suburbs Community Centre who established a peace garden.

The Department has worked with community groups where possible to ensure surplus equipment removed from the old Rocherlea school site is used to benefit community members.

The tender for the demolition of the building will prioritise the recycling of goods and facilities and the reduction of landfill.

A requirement in the tender documents will be that the successful contractor considers which goods or material can be reused.

No reasonable offers for the sale of the property have been made to the Department of Treasury and Finance.

Computing courses for Elderly people

Department of Education Media Release

10 Aug 2012

The following response can be attributed to the Director LINC Tasmania Jenny Rayner

LINC Tasmania offers a variety of options for seniors to participate in IT and upgrade their skills and knowledge :

  • Programming for Seniors Week in October will include a number of targeted courses for seniors at major urban and regional centres across the state.  These courses will be free of charge.
  • Other options below do not specifically target seniors but are available to anyone with a need.  Although there are no statistics indicating participation by age groups, many seniors do take advantage of them.
  • Urban and regional LINCs and Online Access Centres across Tasmania provide a range of free IT support through trained staff and volunteers, and will support clients to use equipment and software available on LINC equipment.  Where there is obvious demand they may also run short training sessions for small groups interested in the same issues.
  • A series of low cost (usually $11.00) non-accredited IT courses are offered on a regular basis throughout LINCs and the OAC network which cover a wide range of IT topics to meet local demand.  These courses are listed on the LearnXpress website and in the course guide which is published 3 times a year.  LINC staff can also provide information on course availability.  In 2011/2012 there were 2923 enrolments in non-accredited courses across LINC Tasmania.
  • Accredited courses are also offered in conjunction with the Polytechnic and other Registered Training Organisations as local demand exists.  These are more formal structured courses leading to qualifications at various levels.  Costs vary according to content and length of the courses.
  • Specialised IT courses are also offered on a fee-for-service basis through LearnXpress.  Concession fees are available for all such courses.  69 courses in this category were offered in 2011/12.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Sport in Schools

Department of Education Media Release

8 Aug 2012

The new Australian curriculum expects that all Tasmanian Government schools provide a minimum of two hours of Health and Physical Education each week for students, Education Department Deputy Secretary Liz Banks said today.

“Schools employ a range of strategies to achieve this expectation including daily designated physical education lessons and organised intra / inter school sport.

“In addition schools utilise initiatives such as Move Well Eat Well and Active After Schools programs to supplement their efforts,” she said.

Ms Banks said that sport in schools is still actively organised through active regional school Sports Associations state-wide.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Old Rocherlea Primary School to be demolished

Department of Education Media Release

8 Aug 2012

Andrew Finch, Deputy Secretary Department of Education, today said the vacant Rocherlea Primary School buildings would be demolished.

Mr Finch said the old Rocherlea Primary School had been closed since the opening of the new school in 2009.

"Students have been enjoying brand new facilities at the new Rocherlea Primary School located next to Brooks High School since Term III 2009, and the vacant school has been unutilised since this time," Mr Finch said.

Mr Finch said the property had been handed to the Department of Treasury and Finance in 2010 to sell on behalf of the Department of Education, however a sale had not been achieved.

"The vacant site has been the subject of vandalism and security breaches and there are ongoing costs associated with maintaining the vacant site and providing security,"

Mr Finch said the buildings were dilapidated and not considered to add any value to the property.

"The Department of Education has carefully considered the options and determined that the best solution is to remove the buildings.

"This will ensure that the property is maintained as a safe asset and the potential to achieve a sale as a vacant block can be enhanced," he said.

"As originally intended, the money from the sale of the property will partially reimburse the cost of constructing the new school."

Mr Finch said demolition will be subject to the requirements of the Launceston City Council's Development Application process which is expected to commence in August 2012.

"A key aspect of the demolition works will be the capacity to recycle building materials and minimisation of waste to landfill."

"A suitably qualified contractor will be engaged to demolish the buildings through a public tender process and this will be advertised in the public notices in coming weeks."