Education Act Implementation
On 10 July 2017, the Education Act 2016 (passed by Parliament in November 2016) commences along with the legislative framework of the Education Regulations 2017, 13 Ministerial Instructions and nine Secretary’s Instructions detailing operational matters related to the Education Act:
- Education Act 2016
- Education Regulations 2017
- Ministerial Instructions – apply to all school sectors
- Secretary’s Instructions – apply to Government Schools only.
This is a significant milestone, as the first time in more than 20 years that Tasmania has an updated Education Act, which provides a strong foundation for improving the education outcomes for all Tasmanians.
The Education Act provides every child and young person in Tasmania with the opportunity to continue to learn and reach their full potential, so they can live fulfilling lives and contribute positively to our community.
The Act is a contemporary and cohesive legislative framework that has been shaped by input from education stakeholders over two years of extensive consultation, including consideration of more than 1 000 responses from three rounds of consultation.
Thank you to everyone who has given their feedback throughout the Education Act Review, the consultation on the draft Bill and the work underway on implementation.
What does the Act mean for Tasmanian schools?
The Act provides schools with an up-to-date legal framework that better supports the high quality teaching and learning in Tasmania’s schools.
The implementation of the Act will be a transitional and ongoing process, commencing on 10 July 2017 and continuing through 2018-2021.
For Tasmanian Schools, the implementation of the Act will mean that some existing policies and procedures will be updated. Information will be available to explain the changes and what they mean for schools, parents and students.
During Term 3 and 4 2017, Government Schools will be undertaking a staged rollout of the updated policies and procedures with the individual views of school communities to be recognised and included in the updated school policies on enrolment, attendance, behaviour management and fees and levies.
What are the key changes from 10 July?
- Daily attendance: With consistent attendance at school being critical to achieving education outcomes and keeping students engaged in learning, there is a new limited set of circumstances in which a student can be authorised not to attend school. A student can no longer be excused for any reason approved by the Principal – All school sectors.
- Part-time attendance: To ensure that approval for a student to attend school on a part-time basis is in the best interests of the student and supported by relevant information and evidence, there is an updated process for parents or independent youths to apply to the Minister for Education and Training for part-time attendance – All school sectors.
- Authorised Persons: Schools may nominate ‘Authorised Persons’ to investigate any suspected unauthorised absence of a student. This continues an existing power for Government Schools that is being extended to Non-Government Schools – All school sectors.
- Flexible enrolment: Recognising that flexible enrolment may be required to support a student’s learning outcomes, there are increased and more flexible school enrolment options to facilitate access to schools for:
- Part-time enrolment of home educated students as part of their home education program – All school sectors
- Dual enrolment for students with disability enrolling at more than one school (both a specialised support school and another school) – All school sectors
- Year 13 enrolments – Government Schools.
- Exemption from enrolment: To ensure that exemption from enrolment is in the best interests of the student and supported by relevant information and evidence, there is an updated process for parents or independent youths to apply to the Minister for Education and Training for exemption from enrolment – All school sectors.
Managing behaviour to support a safe school environment:
- Requesting third-party information: To support a child’s access to education and support students who may behave in a way that leads to a risk of harm to themselves or others, schools can request information about a student’s behaviour from a third-party to enable the development and maintenance of strategies to better support the student – All school sectors.
- Adult behaviour: To assist in managing adult behaviour in a school context, Principals are able to require an adult to leave the school premises or a school activity for unacceptable behaviour for a specified period. Government Schools will outline behaviour expectations as part of their updated school behaviour management policy – All school sectors.
- Suspension: To ensure that education provision is maintained, Government School Principals must arrange and ensure that any student who is suspended is provided with appropriate education during the period of suspension – Government Schools.
- Leaving requirements: With evidence clearly demonstrating that students who stay at school have much better employment and life outcomes, students are required to continue to participate in education and training until they complete Year 12, attain a Certificate III, or they turn 17 years of age (whichever occurs first). The minimum leaving age increases to 18 in 2020 – All school sectors.
- Exemption: To ensure exemption is in the best interests of the student, any exemption from this education and training requirement will need to be approved by the Minister for Education and Training – All school sectors.
- Recognising that unauthorised absences of students from attending school can be for many complex reasons, the Office of the Education Registrar has been established to help resolve reasons for children’s continued unauthorised non-attendance at school. Schools can refer continued unexplained non-attendance to the Registrar to begin the new compulsory conciliation conference process whereby students, parents and school Principals can discuss and agree what needs to happen to support children attending school – All school sectors.
- The Registrar is also responsible for overseeing the registration of Non-Government Schools, working with the Non-Government Schools Registration Board and managing home education registration with advice from the Tasmanian Home Education Advisory Council – Non-Government Schools and home educators.
- Recognising the important role that School Associations play in the operation of Government schools, School Associations automatically become incorporated under the Act with existing constitutions and administrative requirements able to apply until a new proposed constitution is adopted and approved by the Minister – Government Schools.
- Any School Associations undertaking any restricted activities will need to apply to the Secretary. This includes; employing persons, holding or dealing with property, borrowing or loaning money or entering into contracts of more than $5000. This reflects that under the Act they will have protection from legal liability – Government Schools.
- Government Schools may continue to choose whether to develop a dress code for students at the school. Schools must have a uniform for Prep to Year 10 students; however, there is no requirement for a school to have a dress code. An updated process applies for schools to update or develop a dress code – Government Schools.
- Government Schools may continue to provide non-compulsory religious instruction if they choose to. There is no requirement to offer religious instruction and it must not be compulsory. Schools will require parents to notify the Principal in writing whether or not their child is to attend and they may withdraw at any time – Government Schools.
What are the future Education Act changes?
- From 2020, thirteen years of compulsory schooling (from Prep to Year 12).
- From 2020, raising the education and training leaving requirements so that students must participate in education and training until they complete Year 12, attain a Certificate III, or they turn 18 years of age (whichever occurs first).
- From 2020, the exemption from the requirement to participate in education and training for employment increases from 25 hours an week to 35 hours a week.
- From 2020, the voluntary earlier kindergarten starting age commences, subject to a Ministerial Order being approved by both Houses of Parliament. A child who is 3 years and 6 months by the start of the year (i.e. they will turn 4 before 30 June that year) may be enrolled in Kindergarten. Parents may continue to enrol their children in Kindergarten at 4 and Kindergarten remains non-compulsory.
- From 2021, the voluntary earlier school starting age commences, subject to a Ministerial Order being approved by both Houses of Parliament. A child who is 4 years and 6 months by the start of the year (i.e. they will turn 5 before 30 June that year) may be enrolled in Prep. Parents must enrol their children in Prep at 5, which remains the compulsory school starting age.
- Government School Intake Areas (home areas) to be determined by the Department of Education Secretary and published on a five year basis. Schools will be consulted on proposed changes to intake area boundaries. Enrolments from outside a school’s intake area will continue where there is ability to take further enrolments at the school.
Education Act Implementation Project
An Education Act Implementation Project Team is supporting a change management, staged transition with ongoing consultation and support being provided to schools and areas impacted by the policy changes under the Act.
For information on funding for the Education Act Implementation, see the Department of Education 2017-18 Budget Fact Sheet.
There will be regular updates on implementation of the Act and if you have any questions or feedback, contact email@example.com