Revised WA Non-government schools registration standards briefing paper

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On 10 February 2014,  the Department of Education Services WA (DESWA) released the 2014 version of the WA Non-Government School Registration Standards (2014 Registration Standards).

This is the eighth revision since January 2004. The 2014 Registration Standards have been revised annually since 2012.

Unfortunately for principals and business managers who are tasked with ensuring compliance with these standards, once again the changes have been published without an accurate mark up being made available.

For those that are interested, DESWA will make available a copy of the draft version of the 2014 Registration Standards, with red text highlighting the significant additions for 2014.

However, this document provides a limited guide to additions only and DESWA advises that the finalised document must be read in its entirety by non-government school staff to ensure compliance. In other words, each school will need to go through a painstaking exercise of reviewing both the 2014 Registration Standards to see what has been added, as well as the 2013 Registration Standards to see what has been removed. All in all, a very painful and time consuming exercise.

The good news is that CompliSpace’s Editorial Team has done this exercise, and we have prepared a detailed Briefing Paper that analyses the changes to the 2014 Registration Guidelines.

Download Revised WA Registration Standards Briefing Paper

The substantive changes that are likely to affect WA non-government schools from an operational perspective are:

Criteria 1 – Governance & Accountability

  • Schools will need to check their Constitution to ensure it complies with the 2014 Registration Standards, that now specify various matters that must be included in this document.
  • The evidence requirement for the register of governing body members has been extended to include ex-officio and non-voting members.
  • Governing body members must now obtain a National Police Check or other evidence to establish their fit and proper bona fides. The previous standard simply referred to this being “best practice”.
  • A new Governance & Accountability requirement has been added to cover NQS in Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care, including the requirement for Principals to conduct an internal NQS audit annually and to maintain records of this audit.

Criteria 2 – Student Learning

  • Schools now need to ensure they have effective processes in place for students who need a differentiated program, in order for the school to cater for the learning needs of all students.
  • Schools now need to include a Protective Behaviour Curriculum (to be implemented as part of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum) in their School Improvement Plan.
  • The source of requirement for annual reports has been amended to the Australian Education Act 2013, which commenced on 1 January 2014. The Schools Assistance Act 2008 as stated in the 2013 Standards no longer applies, as the Act was valid from 2009 to 2012. A deadline for the annual report has been added. The annual report must be published on the internet “within six months after the end of a year”.  The numbering in the tabulated content that is required for the annual report has also changed.

Criteria 4 – Level of Care

  • The Criterion  and Intent clauses for Level of Care have been revised to emphasise that the school must provide a safe and healthy environment for students “at all times” and that schools have “effective policies, procedures and strategies in place in respond promptly and appropriately to critical incidents affecting student wellbeing”. This is significant because it reinforces the fact that compliance requires effective implementation and is a continuous obligation, not a once every 5 year exercise.
  • This evidence requirement has been revised to include more details on risk management, namely, developing a systematic and proactive risk management system and engaging external agencies or specialist providers to assist if necessary in the identification and resolution of risk issues.
  • The catastrophic weather warnings, bushfire preparedness and school evacuation section has been updated to refer to the AISWA’s Bushfire Management Guidelines.
  • The procedures for the reporting of critical incidents in schools have been updated. The Principal of a school must notify the chair of the school governing body as well as the Minister for Education through the Department of Education Services, of critical incidents as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any event, within 48 hours of the incident. The date and time the Department was notified should be recorded in the minutes of the governing body meetings.

Criteria 5 – Financial Management

  • The Registration Standards have been amended to make it clear that the school’s financial resources must not only provide a satisfactory standard of education, but also “satisfactory levels of care to all students in accordance with their needs”.
  • Additional details with respect to the preparation of a school’s financial statements have been inserted in the revised evidence requirement.
  • A new requirement has been added, requiring a school to have a business plan which may be part of the school strategic plan, outlining the current objectives of the day-to-day operation of the school.

 Criteria 6 – Staff and Management

  • Specific information that should be detailed in staff declarations have been added to this revised requirement.
  • Further clarification is provided with respect to personnel who need to hold WWC cards. Not only do school staff need to hold the cards, but volunteers who are not parents of children at the school and parents of children at the school who undertake a professional role at the school (even if unpaid) are required to hold WWC cards.
  • Schools with enrolled international students are now required to demonstrate their staff are aware of the school’s obligations under the ESOS framework and in turn, the potential implications for students arising from the obligations. In other words, schools are required to provide training to their staff with respect to their obligations to international students.

Criteria 9 – Number of Students

  • The evidence requirement with respect to international students has been amended to introduce two categories applicable to schools. Those schools with 9 students or less, or 10 students or more. Now part of the registration process, the DES will decide whether to approve the maximum number of students the school can enrol based upon consideration of the school’s premises, facilities, resources, equipment, materials and ratio of staff to student numbers in terms of its capacity.

 Criteria 12 – Legal Compliance

  • Explanatory notes have been added that state “During the registration visit, the Independent School Reviewer will make observations in relation to legal compliance”.

Reporting Process

  • The “exceeds standard” outcome has been removed from the reporting process. The outcome of each criterion of the 2014 Standards will either be “meets” requirement or “does not meet” requirement.
  • A new section has been added to the Reporting Process titled “Risk Rating”.  Schools will be rated as having a low, medium or high risk rating. These overall levels of risk are a deciding key factor when recommending the period of registration. Low risk schools are those that meet all registration requirements and address any QIR (Quality Improvements Required) on or before the dates given. These schools will be awarded longer periods of registration.

How CompliSpace can help

CompliSpace provides corporate governance programs and services to small and medium organisations across a range of industry groups. Combining specialist advice with practical, technology-enabled solutions, CompliSpace helps clients to manage their requirements in an increasing complex regulatory environment.

CompliSpace delivers industry specific web-based policies, programs and procedures that can be quickly tailored to an organisation’s needs and are kept up-to-date with legal and regulatory changes by a team of lawyers and industry experts.

Contact Details

P: 1300 132 090

E:  contactus@complispace.com.au

W:  www.complispace.com.au

This blog is a guide to keep readers updated with the latest information. It is not intended as legal advice or as advice that should be relied on by readers. The information contained in this blog may have been updated since its posting, or it may not apply in all circumstances. If you require specific or legal advice, please contact us on (02) 9299 6105(Sydney) or (08) 9288 1826 (Perth) and we will be happy to assist.

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