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13 December 2008
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Digest No. 1651

Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill 2008

Date of Introduction: 11 December 2008
Portfolio: Education
Select Committee: not referred, passed through all stages under urgency
Published: 13 December 2008Prepared by John McSoriley BA LL.B, BarristerLegislative AnalystP: (04) 471-9626 (Ext. 9626)F: (04) 471-1250 Caution: This Digest was prepared to assist consideration of the Bill by members of Parliament. It has no official status.Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, it should not be taken as a complete or authoritative guide to the Bill. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Purpose

The main aim of this Bill is to amend the Education Act 1989 (the Act to enable the Minister of Education to set national standards of literacy and numeracy and to raise the level of fines imposed on parents who fail to enrol their child at school.

Background

The Bill addresses the aim of setting national standards of literacy and numeracy by providing that the Minister of Education, by notice in the Gazette, may publish agreed national standards in literacy and numeracy. The Bill raises certain fine levels for offences relating to truancy.

Main Provisions

Fines for "truancy offences"

Section 24 of the Act at present provides that where the parent of a person required by the Act to be enrolled at a registered school fails or refuses to ensure that the person is enrolled at a registered school, the parent commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.

The Bill increases this penalty to a fine of $3,000.

Section 29(1) provides basically that every parent of a person who while enrolled at a registered school, does not attend school whenever the school is "open" commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding an amount calculated at the rate of $15 for every school day for which the offence has occurred.

The Bill increases this daily rate to $30.

Section 29(2) also provides for a fine for offence under Section 29(1) (see above) of up to $150 for a first offence or $400 for a second or subsequent offence.

The Bill increases these fines to $300 and $3,000 respectively (Part 1, Clauses 4 and 5, amending Sections 24(1), and 29(1) and 29(2) of the Education Act 1989).

Literacy and numeracy standards

Section 60A of the Education Act 1989 provides for the Minister to publish in the Gazette various sorts of education guidelines. These guidelines are of particular relevance to the preparation of a school charter. Section 61 of the Act provides that the purpose of a school charter is to establish the mission, aims, objectives, directions, and targets of the Board that will give effect to the Government's national education guidelines and the Board's priorities, and provide a base against which the Board's actual performance can later be assessed.

The Bill provides that one of these guidelines may be " ... national standards, which are standards, in regard to matters such as literacy and numeracy, that are applicable to all students of a particular age or in a particular year of schooling". The Bill also provides that a school charter may include the assessments of students against any such national standard (Part 2, Clause 7, Clause 8 (by amending Sections 60A(1)of the Education Act 1989 by inserting new paragraph (ba)), and Clause 9 (by amending Section 61(4)(a) of the Education Act 1989).

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