The Educator Weekend Wrap: Teacher vetting fears, top-earning principals & Govt takes over school

In this week’s top story, unnamed sources within the NSW Education Department sounded the alarm that “minimal background checks” of temporary teachers are putting children at risk. The sources told Fairfax Media this represents a dangerous loophole that could “open the door to paedophiles” teaching in public school classrooms. However, Craig Petersen, deputy president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) told The Educator that the Department was thorough in its vetting processes and was “astonished” to read of the claims. “I’m puzzled to have read about the [sources’] responses, because we don’t employ anyone who doesn’t have approval by the Department and hasn’t done a thorough working with children check,” he said. “Whether they’re employed on a temporary or permanent basis, this makes no difference.”

In other news, the salaries of top-earning principals were revealed. Annual reports tabled in Queensland’s state parliament show that some principals are being paid between $314,000 and $415,000 a year, dwarfing the salaries of their state counterparts. In state schools, principals earn between $110,000 and $158,260 with top-end executive principals also eligible for a car allowance of $26,000. However, the author of the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety & Well-being Survey, Philip Riley, told The Educator he saw the issue as one of fairness. “Are the Independents paid too much or the others too little? I think there is a middle ground between the two extremes, and I would like to see a sabbatical system introduced rather than large wage increases,” he said.
Finally, Queensland's education department will take over schooling in the beleaguered Indigenous town of Aurukun following a string of violent incidents that saw teachers evacuated, an attempted home invasion and a principal assaulted and car-jacked. On Tuesday, the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced her government would implement all 27 recommendations from a recent 67-page review into the school. Some of the key recommendations include the government to take the lead in education delivery, Years 7 and 8 to be introduced and an independent financial audit of the school’s current financial arrangements.