Tim Heasley co-president of Hawthorn West Primary School, School Council, chats on air with Steve Vizard and Susie O’Brien over the recent interference in a school council review of religious education.
Council went to extraordinary lengths to provide a bipartisan and inclusive parent survey. This included consultation with ACCESS Ministries C.E., Evonne Paddison and Education Department representatives. However, departmental pressure has now been applied to withhold the survey.
Citing failure to mention the legislative clause that’s on everybody’s lips – that RE is compulsory – the Department of Education now refuses to endorse the survey.
As reported recently in Fairfax:
“A department spokeswoman said the council had not been prevented from issuing its survey but added that ”the department does not endorse it”.
”The survey withheld the fact that under the present legislation schools are obligated to offer special religious instruction when it is made available by providers,” she said. ”What we have asked is that the school council remember its obligation to ensure the school complies with the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 … and that it respects the views of the entire school community and maintains a constructive working relationship with the department.
The spokeswoman did not answer questions about whether the department was acting under instructions from the minister or under pressure from Christian religious education provider Access Ministries.”
The Education Act empowers a school council “to inform itself and take into account any views of the school community for the purpose of making decisions,” Mr Heasley said.
Education union secretary Mary Bluett said she was “amazed at the interference of the department in the operations of the school council”.
The school council intends to continue with plans to distribute the survey today.