Friday, July 17, 2015

Australian families providing fraudulent rental documents to get kids into top Sydney public school

Reminiscent of Britain

FAMILIES have been providing fraudulent rental documents in an attempt to gain enrolment at Cherrybrook Technology High School, one of the state’s top public schools.

Principal Gary Johnson said he had referred several cases to the police in which parents made false claims in an attempt to get their child enrolled.

Under the education department’s enrolment guidelines, families whose homes are situated in a public school’s catchment area and who can provide the appropriate documentation, ­including proof of address, are eligible to enrol at that school.

An education department spokeswoman said the school was highly sought-after because of its record of academic achievement.

Ray White Cherrybrook and West Pennant Hills ­licensee Andrew Crauford said he was aware of industry colleagues who leased properties to people for the purpose of gaining an ­address within the school’s intake area.

“I have been asked many times by property owners and tenants ‘am I able to provide a lease to put it to the school?’ but the answer is it’s illegal,” he said.

“There are clients out there who are prepared to ask the question of me and my office and the answer is always no, unless they’re prepared to sign the lease and pay the money and ­occupy the premises.” Mr Crauford said Cherrybrook Tech High authorities had phoned his office on a couple of occasions to verify the validity of leases.

Ryde Local Area Command crime co-ordinator Sgt Kerri McDonald said it was a matter for Fair Trading, not police.  A Fair Trading spokeswoman said the department was not aware of any complaints.

Member for Epping Damien Tudehope said the incident showed there was strong demand for schools in the Hills.

However, the rules in this regard were clear, he said. “We’ve got to give priority to people who live in the catchment area and certainly make sure fraudulent practices aren’t used for getting admission to our schools,” he said.


Many Australian Parents In The Dark About Their Children’s Online Activities

Norton Report reveals 74 percent of parents are oblivious to their kids’ online activities

According to survey data released today by Internet security company, Norton by Symantec, many Australian parents are in the dark about their kid’s online activities and are avoiding crucial conversations about their children’s online privacy and security practices.

Polling 600 Australian parents across the country, the Norton survey examines parents’ understanding and involvement with their children’s online activities. The survey reveals that 74 percent of Australian parents are oblivious to their kids’ online activities.                                                           

The Norton survey also shows that many parents are disconnected from their children’s online world and are not engaging with their children about Internet practices that can harm them both now and in the future. For example, approximately 41 percent of Australian parents surveyed never check their children’s online activities, and never discuss sexting (52 percent), cyberbullying (41 percent) or stranger danger online (37 percent).

“From websites to apps to games and online communities, children have access to a ton of content that can affect them both positively and negatively,” said Mark Gorrie, Director, Norton by Symantec, Pacific region.  “Children are interacting online at a younger age and more than ever before and it’s impossible for parents to watch over their kids every second they’re online.  Parents need to arm their children with the knowledge and skills they need to use the Internet positively without compromising their privacy and security.”

Alarmingly about one in five (18 percent) Australian parents surveyed had been warned about their child’s social media activities by their school and approximately 15 percent of parents had admitted to having at least one child impacted by cyberbullying, while one in three children identified themselves as being impacted by cyberbullying.  In addition, almost one in three (27 percent) Australian parents admitted that their young children had joined a social networking account even though they did not meet the minimum age rule.

To help promote online safety, digital ethics and privacy, Norton has partnered with author, child rights activist and parent, Tara Moss, to be our first Norton Family Ambassador in Australia.

“Security, privacy and online ethics are now a necessary part of parenting, just like road safety and safe sex education. Kids using connected devices in the comfort of the family home may look harmless, but activity online has consequences and impacts beyond the home and beyond that moment. As with anything else, education and guidance are needed. To some, the Internet is not part of the real world, but it is. Things said online are sent by real people and received by real people, and when the recipient is a child, unpleasant online exchanges can be more damaging,” said Moss.

“The Norton survey reveals there is a general lack of awareness about the role of parents in educating children about Internet security and privacy.  Many parents haven’t grown up as connected to the online world as their children and may be unaware of the potential impacts of online activity. While schools and governments have invested in teaching children safe Internet practices, it is no longer enough. Parents need to get informed about what they can do to protect their children and take an active role in their children’s understanding of privacy and online ethics, as well as their online well-being,” Moss added.

While technologies exist today that help parents keep their children safe online, 44 percent of parents surveyed confess they never discuss using privacy settings on their children’s social networking accounts and 43 percent do not have parental controls set up on their children’s connected devices. In addition, almost one in three (29 percent)  Australian parents surveyed admit to not having any rules in place about what their child can or cannot do online.

“There are simple steps parents can take to protect their children online. Having an open conversation with children about their online habits can go a long way in protecting children online. Norton also recommends turning on the filtering and security features in search engines and social networking accounts and installing free parental control software, such as Norton Family,” said Gorrie.

Press release

UK: Debate over American-style nursery graduation ceremony

This happens in Australia too but is generally regarded as just fun

A Cambridgeshire nursery has ignited a debate over the craze of three and four year old children taking part in American-style graduation ceremonies
A nursery in Cambridgeshire has sparked a bitter debate about whether school children age three and four should take part in American-style graduation ceremonies.

Pupils at Mother Goose Nursery in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, took part in the nursery’s fourth graduation ceremony earlier this week as the craze rapidly spreads across the UK.

The nursery has defended the event as “raising aspirations” for the children but a leading child psychologist has branded these type of ceremonies as “ridiculous” and designed at making the children perform “like monkeys”.

It is the fourth year the nursery has organised a ceremony for its leavers – all wearing gowns and mortar boards- and after an address by staff, the youngsters were given purple scrolls and individual awards.

But some people believe pre-schoolers are too young to have graduation ceremonies and that they forcing children to place premature emphasis on exam results and academic performance.

Emma Criton, a child psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, told the Daily Telegraph: “Parents put their own sense of quirky fun and expectations on very young children and this is ridiculous because it is a very narrow view of education.

“Teaching under five-year olds is about the social interactions and growing through play and not about academic achievement."

However, she said, when it came to US-style graduation ceremonies, it was more “parent led”.

She said: “Parents can sit in the audience and laugh and clap at the children performing like monkeys. It has become like a show for parents. They have lost the plot.”

But Beverley Taylor-Carson, operations and HR manager at the nursery, disagreed. She said the ceremony “is all about the children. They are so excited and we tell them ‘we are proud of you’. It’s everything about the child.”

If anything, Ms Taylor-Carson added, it is about raising a young person’s aspirations. She said: “We celebrate their achievements in a holistic way. It’s about the things they love and their personality.

"We believe the graduation ceremony is a lovely way to teach children about change as they move up to school and how it can be a positive thing.”

She recognised, however, that some children are reluctant to wear the gowns and mortar boards. She said: “If they don’t want to participate, that’s not a problem.”

The nursery graduation craze has also provided business opportunities to some. John Martin, who runs Marston Robing in Hampshire, started selling the caps and gowns in 2008 and this year he will sell more than 10,000 sets to pre-school children in Britain.

"We thought we'd give it a try in 2008 as a few nurseries were holding graduations and importing gowns from America, which was inconvenient and expensive." said John.

"Since then the momentum has built up and more and more nurseries have come on board each year, mainly by word of mouth.

"It's incredibly popular with parents. We see it as being about capturing the moment when children transition from pre-school to school in a photo, it's a big moment."

This isn’t the first nursery to hold American-style graduation ceremonies in the UK. A tradition that originally started in the US, ceremonies have been held for around a decade already, although the numbers were isolated at the start.


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