Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Student identity scheme has Catholic backing

Br Kelvin Canavan of the Sydney Archdiocese Catholic Education Office has supported the introduction of identity numbers for school students to help monitor their academic progress.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Br Canavan said NSW collects phenomenal amounts of education data but access to the information was often denied to principals and administrators.

He said unique identifiers given to children when they start kindergarten, similar to a Medicare number, would allow ready access to academic information when children changed schools. About 90 per cent of students change schools when they start secondary education, but their primary school results are not automatically available to the new school.

Br Kelvin said it was difficult even to track students' Basic Skills Test results if they changed schools between year 3 and year 5, when the exams were held.

"We're losing a lot of the potential value of these tests because the results are not able to follow the students," he said.

The Herald reported last week that the Minister for Education, Carmel Tebbutt, saw merit in a national system of student identity numbers. NSW Department of Education officials will raise the issue at a meeting with their counterparts from other states this week.

Meanwhile a dispute in South Australia over a private school teachers' refusal to take part in compulsory extra-curricular activities is still not resolved - months after they were threatened with the sack.

Christian Brothers College, at which the teachers are employed, and the Independent Education Union will now meet in the Industrial Relations Commission for a private arbitration hearing.

"It's about the employer's capacity to direct teachers to perform any duty they wish at any time," said Austin White, from the IEU. "Teachers can be required for extra curricular activities 24 hours a day, seven days a week at CBC - we just want to limit that."

The issue was sparked in September last year when 19 teachers at the college refused to submit their preferences for compulsory extra-curricular activities.

And in Melbourne, some leading private schools have agreed that it is "neither fair nor appropriate" to offer scholarships to senior students to win premierships or gain dominance in particular sports.

The move by the Associated Public Schools of Victoria - a competitive sporting group of 11 schools - comes after allegations emerged last year that some private schools were poaching top students from the Catholic sector.

The Age reported last year on claims by the principal of St Bede's College, Mentone, that Haileybury had offered scholarships to some of its best sports performers.

Michael Urwin, chairman of the APS Heads Association, acknowledged that there had been public speculation for many years, and said he hoped the guidelines would "get rid of all that innuendo".

APS schools are mainly non-Catholic, but include the Christian Brothers' St Kevin's College, and the Jesuits' Xavier College.

Student identity scheme has Catholic backing (Sydney Morning Herald 28/3/05)
Private school pay row goes on (Sunday Mail 27/3/05)
Top schools pledge to play fair (The Age 29/3/05)

29 Mar 2005