New laws to keep Queensland schools safe
Queensland principals will have more powers to make their schools even safer as part of the LNP Government’s plan to support local decision-making and improve outcomes for students.
Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said a raft of new laws passed by Parliament delivered on the government’s commitment to make schools safe places to learn and work.
“This government has an unrelenting focus on improving student discipline and empowering schools to achieve better outcomes for students,” Mr Langbroek said.
“We know that principals and school communities are in the best position to make many of the decisions that impact on children’s safety at school and their learning.
“Under the new laws, state school principals will have more power to deal with student behaviour and keep their schools safe – which is what Queensland families expect.
“From 2015, principals will be better placed to make decisions on suspending students on the grounds that they are facing charges for serious offences such as murder, rape, attempted murder and arson.
“Only the Director-General will have the power to obtain information from police to confirm whether a student has been charged with or convicted of a serious offence.
“I can assure Queenslanders that strict protocols will be put in place to protect the storing and sharing of this information, which will be provided to principals if the Director-General deems it necessary for school safety.”
Mr Langbroek said principals would complete risk assessment training before they would be able to request and access the sensitive information.
“From next year principals at both state and non-state schools will have the power to immediately deal with a hostile person on school grounds by telling them to leave and not to re-enter school grounds for up to 24 hours,” Mr Langbroek said.
“Previously principals had to issue the direction in writing, which was an unnecessary and time consuming administrative burden.”
Other important changes include:
- The Director-General will be able to delegate to the state’s seven regional directors the power to commence prosecution against parents who don’t send their children to school.
- Changes to improve safety and educational outcomes in schools, including limiting the enrolment of mature age students to state schools specifically positioned to cater for them.
- Principals of these schools, rather than central office, will be able to determine whether or not an adult is to be enrolled at their school, taking into account any criminal history information.
- Amendments to the Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Act 2001 to streamline the establishment of special assistance schools to support the re-engagement of disengaged youth in education.
Enhanced autonomy of non-state school principals by empowering them to grant exemptions from compulsory schooling obligations for periods of up to 110 school days. Currently, these decisions are made within the department.
The Minister said the legislation reinforced the push to increase school autonomy, reduce red tape and improve educational outcomes.
The Education and Innovation Committee reviewed the Bill and recommended it be passed.