The Educator Weekend Wrap: Top school probed, principals fear being set up, teachers evacuated again

by The Educator28 May 2016

In this week’s top story, one of Australia’s most prestigious private schools came under investigation after footage surfaced showing some of its rugby students ‘crash-tackling’ sheep. The video, which was posted on a private Facebook page, shows the King’s School students running into a paddock where they chased, tackled – and in some cases flipped over – sheep. In a statement to ABC News, the school principal, Dr Tim Hawkes, admitted that although no harm came to the boys or the animals, the activity was nonetheless “a poor choice”. “Although training was given beforehand on how to handle sheep and the event was supervised by several experienced farmers, there was always the capacity for hurt,” he said. “As recent events have also shown, there was also the capacity to bring the school into disrepute.”

In other news, it was reported that some principals were refusing to complete a major Education Department survey out of fear their feedback would be traced back to them – and with severe consequences. South Australian State School Leaders Association (SASSLA) chief executive, John Gregory, told The Educator that mistrust between principals and the Department has become more of an issue over time as school leaders have “good reason to fear they are being set up for investigation”. Gregory said the ramifications for principals who provide negative feedback in Education Department surveys include marginalisation, poor morale, poor references, sidelining and difficulties maintaining career pathways. “We have members who have been directed away from site for up to two years, without determination. One has been sidelined, the subject of malicious and vindictive accusations,” Gregory explained.

Finally, teachers at a North Queensland school were evacuated for the second time in two weeks after it was deemed unsafe for them to remain in the troubled town of Aurukun. The 25 educators, who had chosen to return to the school after the first evacuation, were flown out of the township after children as young as six allegedly tried to steal a car and threw rocks at houses and security guards. Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) president Kevin Bates told The Educator that the evacuation of the teachers, principal and some school support staff was accompanied by the closure of the school. “On this occasion the employer has acted to bring teachers out rather than the teachers asking to be brought out,” he said.