Thursday, 27 September 2012

Unpaid Levies | Student Assistance Scheme

Department of Education Media Release

27 September 2012


Deputy Secretary Department of Education

What do government schools do to recover unpaid levies by parents?

Levies are an important component of educational programs and are allocated towards the costs of learning materials, stationery and school services such as schools excursions, visiting performances and school camps.

Individual students are not disadvantaged educationally as a result of unpaid levies.

The State Government has a number of strategies to lower school costs for low income families, including assistance in the purchase of spectacles and uniforms.

Low income families can apply for assistance under the Student Assistance Scheme (STAS). If eligible, students are exempt from paying levies.

Schools are responsible for the management of levies and a register of unpaid levies is not kept by the Department.

Levies are set by individual schools, each school community has in place its own strategies to collect outstanding levies including implementing more flexible payment options.

Parents are now advised of a lump sum at the start of the year and are not constantly being asked to pay extra costs throughout the school year.

Parents are now able to pay their levies in instalments and many parents have taken up this option to spread the payment out over a longer period.

The use of debt collection services to collect unpaid school levies is always a last resort.

Schools work cooperatively with parents to find a means of finalising the debt and it is only when a negotiated solution can’t be found that debt collection may be considered.

Reminders are sent to parents via school newsletters and individual letters may also be sent to parents.

If schools decide to use debt collection services, it is done so on the basis that it will not influence the debtor’s credit rating.

It is up to individual schools to decide whether to use debt collection services, and figures on this are not kept centrally by the Department.

How many students are recipients of the Student Assistance Scheme in government and non-government schools and what are the costs of this service?

The total number of current approvals for the 2012 Student Assistance Scheme is 28,284.
The number of Student Assistance Scheme approvals that apply to government schools is 25,482.
The number of Student Assistance Scheme approvals that apply to non-government schools is 2,802.
The total cost of the Student Assistance Scheme for 2012-13 is $4.695 million.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

School attendance

Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012

Monday 10 September 2012

The following response can be attributed to Education Department Secretary Colin Pettit:

Tasmania performs very well in relation to student attendance compared to other jurisdictions, particularly in relation to the early years.

The 2012 Report on Government Services shows that Tasmania has recorded either top or equal top for all year levels (year 1 to year 10) across other states and territories, apart from year 9 (Tasmania recorded equal second) and year 10 (Tasmania recorded equal third).

Ensuring children attend school is a shared responsibility. Parents have an important role in prioritising school attendance, and schools support with appropriate curriculum and supportive school environments.

The department continues to work on this important issue and has a range of strategies for following up unexplained absences and attendance issues.

At a school-level, there are various strategies for following up unexplained absences and attendance issues including phoning home, using SMS and social workers.

Adult Learners’ Week Celebrated

Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012

Digital literacy – connecting and learning through technology is the national theme of this year’s Adult Learners Week.

LINC Tasmania is celebrating Adult Learners’ Week (1-8 September) with a program of free events, displays and activities for learners of all abilities.

Director, LINC Tasmania, Jenny Rayner said that Adult Learners’ Week is a great opportunity for Tasmanians to celebrate learning in many different ways.

“Engaging learners in a diverse range of lifelong learning opportunities is an important focus of LINC Tasmania.

“Developing new skills, supporting learning and celebrating the value and diversity of lifelong learners is vital to maintaining interest in and re-engaging adults in learning.

“LINC Tasmania is offering a range of short courses to help adult learners of all ages and skill levels to develop their computing and online experiences.

“These opportunities include how to use eBooks, basic computing skills, on-line games, internet job searching and researching family history online.

“Courses are also available in resume writing and financial literacy and a range of LearnXpress program courses will also be on offer.

“UTAS and the Tasmanian Polytechnic are offering a number of state-wide information sessions to support people re-engaging in adult learning opportunities.

For more information about Adult Learners’ Week events and other services contact your local LINC or visit

Leap into Spring Learning with LearnXpress

Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012

Women’s sailing and boatbuilding techniques are among the exciting new courses on offer through LINC Tasmania’s LearnXpress program this Spring.

The Spring LearnXpress guides, which include a variety of courses across leisure and lifestyle activities, and work & life skills will be available in newspapers tomorrow.

Many new courses are on offer including outdoor activities to help dust off winter cobwebs and popular favourites such as Art and Craft, Computing, Fitness and Wellbeing, Sport, Languages, Home, Lifestyle, DIY and more.

Discover Women’s Sailing Experience, Croquet for Beginners and Scan & Restore Old Photographs are just a few of the courses available in the south. A range of boatbuilding courses including Steam-Bending Wood for Construction & Decorative Purposes and Finishing & Protecting Your Boat are also on offer.

Courses in the North include theatrical options such as Demystifying Shakespeare – An Introduction to the Plays of the Bard and Screenwriting 101. An Introduction to Chinese Culture and Japanese Poetry & Art – Haiku, Collage & Kakejiku also offer some cultural learning.

Courses are also available in the North West including Dressmaking for Yourself and French for Travellers.

Jenny Rayner, Director of LINC Tasmania said that learning new things can bring a lot of experiences to Tasmanians.

“Taking a LearnXpress course is not only about discovering new skills and enjoying lifelong learning but a great way to meet new people and have fun. Spring is a great time of year to explore new directions and engage in new experiences.”

The LearnXpress website has recently undergone a makeover making it very simple to navigate and enrol in a course.

The LearnXpress course guide is available in the Mercury and Examiner newspapers on Saturday, 18 August.

For more information about LearnXpress courses, and to enrol online, visit

Australian Curriculum - School reports

Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012

School reports are designed to be a description of how well the student is achieving in the Australian Curriculum for the year group and is based on a wide range of evidence the teacher collects, Deputy Secretary Early Years and Schools, Liz Banks, said today.

“Schools have already communicated with parents to help them better understand the content of the reports that they will be receiving over the next few weeks,” Ms Banks said.

“The new Australian Curriculum sets challenging but achievable assessment standards as this is an important part in lifting student outcomes.”

Ms Banks said that the new assessment scale involves A-E letter ratings and descriptors.

“If your child is in Prep, Year 1 or Year 2 you will only see the descriptors on the report. If your child is in Year 3 to 10 you will see both the letter rating and the descriptor,” she said.

An example of one component of a school report:

For further information visit

Monday, 3 September 2012

West Coast training

Department of Education Media Release

3 September 2012

To be attributed to Nick McKim, MP, Minister for Education and Skills

“The Department of Education has had some preliminary discussions with schools and local businesses on the West Coast to determine the training needs of the area.

“The West Coast Education Advisory Committee (WCEAC) has been developing and implementing strategies targeted towards the access, participation and retention of young people in education and training on the West Coast.

“The recent appointment of Elizabeth Parsons as the new Education and Industry Partnership Officer on the West Coast was one of the initiatives of WCEAC.

“The West Coast community services hub in Queenstown also provides courses.”

PISA Testing

Department of Education Media Release

3 September 2012

Liz Banks
Deputy Secretary, Early Years and Schools

  • Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment conducted every three years.
  • The majority of participating students are 15 years old.
  • 47 Tasmanian Government schools were included in the 2012 sample.
  • Schools are selected randomly to participate in the PISA sample. Sample size across the jurisdictions is determined by the need to capture data from schools representative of all socio-economic and geolocational categories.
  • The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is conducting the assessments nationally and was responsible for determining the sample frame.
  • 25 students from each school will be sampled to complete a two-hour paper-based assessment consisting of mathematics, science, financial literacy and reading questions.  These students will also be asked to complete a questionnaire. 
  • After the paper-based assessment and questionnaire, a sub-sample of 20 students who participated in the paper-based assessment will also participate in a computer-based assessment of problem solving, mathematical literacy and reading literacy.  

Teacher accommodation in regional areas

Department of Education Media Release

3 September 2012

To be attributed to Andrew Finch, Deputy Director (Corporate Services)

Q:  For the housing provided for teachers and police to be upgraded.

“The provision of teacher accommodation in regional areas is considered an important incentive for attracting and retaining teaching staff in schools in regional areas.

“Under the North West Teacher Residence Program, the Department of Education has recently undertaken plumbing, heating and electrical works to improve the quality of teacher residences on the West Coast.

“A major capital upgrade of the Wilson Street unit complex of 13 units located in Queenstown has recently been undertaken.  Further work to improve the quality of teacher residences on the West Coast is planned.

“In November 2010, the Department of Education commissioned Cat Conatus Consultants to complete a review of teacher accommodation in North West Tasmania.

“The final report showed that the majority of residents are generally satisfied with current housing arrangements.  It makes 13 key recommendations.  To improve the quality of teacher residences, the department has progressed a number of the recommendations in consultation with schools, Learning Services North-West and the Australian Education Union (AEU). The initial focus has been on the more remote areas of the west coast. Implementation of recommendations in consultation with key stakeholders continues.

“The department is currently developing a strategy to adopt the agreed recommendations across the State which includes a state-wide Teacher Residence Management policy.

“The final report is available to all interested parties on