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New Education Act supports and protects children and staff

Stronger supports for children and new and improved protections for staff and children will be available when the new South Australian Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 starts later this year.
27 February 2020

The Act focuses on creating positive learning experiences for our children through enhanced supports for students and educators, increased safety provisions and measures to find and keep the right teachers and support staff.

It’s the first update of the Act in a generation and modernises a range of laws that apply to public, non-government schools, preschools and early years facilities.

Here’s how some of the key changes will make a difference for our educators and children.

Supporting children through information sharing

Every child is different, with different histories and changing needs during their education journey.  Learning well, being happy and expanding capabilities is easier for a child when the right support is in place. 

Detailed permissions in the new Act around information sharing between government departments and agencies, schools, preschools and children’s services, mean that schools will be able to build a fuller picture of a child’s needs. Principals will be able to obtain additional information from a child’s previous school or preschool, to put in place more complete support plans to improve a child’s health, safety, welfare and wellbeing outcomes.

Circuit breaker keeps kids safe

The new Act creates a circuit breaker power where the Chief Executive of the Department for Education can move a student to another school for their health, safety and welfare or that of other students and staff, where appropriate. This could be used in response to situations such as severe bullying or a serious assault.

Building school communities

Making sure that school communities have the professional expertise they need is a focus of the Act. It updates employment provisions so professionals such as nurses, social workers, youth workers, psychologists and others can be employed directly by the department to work in schools.

Keeping staff safe

The Act introduces tougher penalties against those who use abusive, threatening or insulting language or behave in an offensive or threatening manner to school staff, with a maximum fine of $2500.

It also means all schools, preschools and children’s centres can bar individuals for bad behaviour by extending a power that already exists in government schools to include government preschools and child care providers, as well as non-government schools and preschools. 

Your views wanted on draft regulations to support the Act

Public comment is wanted on the draft regulations that will support the Act being put into action.

The regulations mainly guide how public schools, preschools and children’s services in South Australia operate and set out employment conditions for public school teachers.

Some regulations deal with matters relevant to non-government schools and providers of approved learning programs.

Some important matters the regulations deal with include:

  • enrolment of students in government schools
  • school discipline and approved reasons for non-attendance at school
  • student allowances and scholarships
  • dress codes
  • premises to which protections for teachers, other staff and students apply

You can read the draft regulations at YourSAy