Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Reforming the Education Acts

The government introduced the Education and Training Bill to Parliament yesterday. Its a massive bill, which replaces both existing Education Acts, as well as various other bits of legislation (including some which are still proceeding through the House). I'll leave the serious analysis to teachers and people who actually know about education policy at various levels. But there are a couple of interestign points. On the administrative side, it introduces a new dispute resolution system, with a chief referee and dispute resolution panels to resolve disputes between students and schools (this is presumably to reduce the workload of the Ombudsman and the courts). And while it retains the "close the school" dodge which allows legally secular schools to hold religious instruction, it now requires it to be explicitly opt-in (though in a later section, it seems to retain the old opt-out drafting, which will need to be fixed). This is a good step forward, but it is not enough, because these provisions (and the requirement for explicitly secular teaching) apply only to primary and intermediate schools; state secondary schools are not included, and so can still shove religion down their student's throats. If we're going to have this compromise, then it needs to apply to all state schools, not just some.

Also: the old requirement for teachers to take an oath of allegiance as a condition of employment - imposed after the sedition trial of Hatty Weitzel in the 1920's - has not been included. So no more patriotic bullshit, huzzah!