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Submission of the Ombudsman - Education (Update) Amendment Bill 2016

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While we agree that on-line learning can make an important contribution to education, we are concerned about the breadth of the proposed Communities of On-Line Learning (COOL) scheme, and in particular the apparently unrestricted ability of any student to be enrol in a COOL (clause 20 refers).

We consider it important to clarify that COOLs are subject to both the Ombudsmen Act and the Official Information Act (OIA), for the purposes of transparency and accountability. This accords with the former Chief Ombudsman’s view regarding the need for partnership schools to be subject to both Acts.

We are concerned about the multiple amendments that create powers of ‘absolute discretion’ on the part of the Minister. These are in new section 35T (accreditation of communities of online learning), clause 100 (power to establish schools), clause 106 (power to change the class of schools), clause 107 (power to close schools), new section 156AA (requirement for establishing a designated character school), and clause 110 (power to merge schools).

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