Australia/November 02, 2022/ By: Ben Smee/Source: https://www.theguardian.com/
State education minister Grace Grace says review to look at regulation of non-state schools and measures to protect students
The Queensland education minister, Grace Grace, has announced an independent review of the accreditation framework for independent schools following backlash against the actions of large Queensland Christian schools.
Those issues related to the treatment and recognition of gay and transgender students and teachers and the review will consider new measures to “protect the wellbeing of students”.
Citipointe Christian college at Carindale in Brisbane’s south earlier this year withdrew demands that families sign enrolment contracts that called gay sex “immoral” and “offensive to God”, and implied transgender students would not be recognised at the college. The school’s actions were referred to the non-state schools accreditation board at the time.
Citipointe also restricted school counsellors from providing any support to students on matters of sexuality or gender identity.
Earlier this month, Guardian Australia revealed the principal of another Christian school, Livingstone Christian college, had interrogated students about allegations a teacher had told them she lived with her boyfriend, during an investigation into whether the teacher had breached “biblical moral standards”.
Grace said afterwards she was considering beefing-up the powers of the accreditation board.
On Monday, she announced the terms of reference of an independent review and whether its powers were “fit for purpose”. Grace said the government was committed to providing choice for families and that non-state schools play an “essential, valued role” in educating Queensland children and young people.
“The current legislation has been in place for five years, so now is the right time to make sure the accreditation framework is fit for purpose, supports the provision of high-quality education, and ensures public confidence is maintained in our non-state schools,” Grace said.
“The review will look at the regulation of non-state schools in other jurisdictions, assess the powers currently in place, consider the balance between imposing standards and minimising any regulatory burden, and make recommendations for improvements.”
“The terms of reference have been agreed among all stakeholders and will include improvements for the efficient running of the board, as well as the health and wellbeing of students.”
The heads of Independent Schools Queensland, the Queensland Catholic Education Commission and the Independent Education Union (IEU) have welcomed the review.
“The review is an opportunity to ensure the legislation regulating non-government schools reflects community expectations in the operation of schools,” the IEU Queensland and NT assistant secretary, Paul Giles, said.
The chief executive of Independent Schools Queensland, Christopher Mountford, said: “With a rapidly changing education landscape, it makes sense to review the current framework in a collaborative manner to ensure it is still fit for purpose and meets the needs of students whose parents or guardians make the informed choice to send their child to an independent school.”