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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Education and the Arts
    The Honourable Rod Welford

    NEW LAWS SUPPORT MODERN EDUCATION SYSTEM

    Minister for Education and the Arts
    The Honourable Rod Welford

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    NEW LAWS SUPPORT MODERN EDUCATION SYSTEM

    An increase in the school starting age, the introduction of the Prep Year and agreements with parents about student behaviour are part of a comprehensive overhaul of Queensland’s education laws, introduced into State Parliament today.

    Education Minister, Rod Welford, said the new laws positioned Queensland schools to deliver on the aims of the Smart State and meet the expectations of students and their families in the 21st century.

    “More than 2000 public submissions over 18 months have contributed to this modernisation of our laws in the Education (General Provisions) Bill 2006,” Mr Welford said.

    “The legislation provides a basis for the introduction of the new Prep Year in 2007 and the increase in the school starting age, which takes effect in 2008.

    “It creates a legal requirement for both state and non-state schools to provide reports on students’ academic work and offer interviews to parents twice a year.

    “State schools will be able to develop voluntary enrolment agreements with parents and students which include expectations under the new Code of Behaviour.

    “The enrolment agreement will set out the rights and responsibilities of parents, students and the school.

    “The new laws also clarify that parents have a choice whether their child undertakes religious instruction. Parents can discuss with schools the preferred type of instruction.”

    Mr Welford said the bill provided for:

    For both state and non-state schools:

    • the introduction of a non-compulsory full-time preparatory year from 2007;
    • an increase in the compulsory school starting age by six months from 2008;
    • the new ‘learning and earning’ laws;
    • exemptions from compulsory schooling to enable students to participate in apprenticeships and traineeships, or attend significant family occasions;
    • increased penalties for parents who fail to ensure their children attend school from a maximum of $350 to $450 for a first offence and $750 to $900 for subsequent offences.
    • a registration system for children who are educated at home;
    • a reporting framework to ensure parents receive critical information on both student and schools outcomes.

    For State schools only:

    • an admission framework including ‘enrolment agreements’ that are non-binding and set out the respective rights and obligations of the school, parents and students;
    • increased transparency about the grounds on which a student may be refused enrolment, ensuring that all persons know their rights;
    • the capacity for schools to charge for specialised programs (e.g., International Baccalaureate) that will be approved by the Department and will include unique or unusual programs that are not generally available in State schools, but are highly specialised, high-cost offerings;
    • the capacity for schools to continue to ask for voluntary financial contributions from parents to supplement programs at the school;
    • the ability of state schools to facilitate the provision of religion instruction during schools hours where there is parental demand and an approved provider.

    Mr Welford said the feedback provided through the extensive consultation had played an important part in the development of the bill.

    “The Education Laws for the Future consultation paper was released for public comment between October 2004 and March 2005,” he said.

    “There were 38 information sessions held and as a result, we received more than 2100 public submissions.

    “A draft bill was also released for public comment between December 2005 and March this year.”

    Media contact: Greg Milne on 32371000 or 0417791336