Wednesday, 9 December 2015

More school controversies courtesy of The Age

The principal of a private Sydney girls school has written to parents after a social media campaign calling for her dismissal escalated ahead of the school's speech night.

Denice Scala, the principal of MLC School in Sydney's inner west, has come under fire following the resignation of scores of staff members this year and a student-led petition against her business decisions.The staff turn-over is significant but the Principal believes it is in line with other private school. ( If a state school had a staff turn over like that there would be red flags popping up and some serious DET intervention!)

Then there is the private school in Melbourne (Brighton Grammar....pronounced Braaarton Grammar) where the kids go to the local TAB and bet in school uniform.

( betting shops near schools is not regarded with the concern it should be. I'd like to see some data on underage gambling habits especially of children who have betting outlets near their schools.) 

.....and then there's the school that tolerates anti-vaxers!

From ABC online:

Health authorities have urged parents to vaccinate their children after up to a quarter of students at a primary school in Melbourne's north were infected with chickenpox.

Of the 320 students who attend Brunswick North West Primary School, about 80 have been absent in recent days.

Acting Victorian chief health officer Professor Michael Ackland said while the exact number of students who had chickenpox was not known, it was understood to be the majority.

Students in Victoria do not have to be immunised to attend government schools, but parents must inform the school of the child's immunisation status.

Immunisation against chickenpox is included in the combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine which is given to children at 18 months.

The City of Moreland, the municipality which takes in the school, had a 94 per cent vaccination rate and about 75 per cent of students had provided vaccination certificates.

In a newsletter sent to parents on December 4, principal Trevor Bowen said the school welcomed students who were not immunised.

"Prospective students will not be prevented from enrolling in primary school if they have not been immunised," he said.

"We expect all community members to act respectfully and with tolerance when interacting with other parents and carers who may have a differing opinion to their own.

"This includes an opposing understanding about child immunisation.

"I ask all community members to interact respectfully at all times and with a sense of tolerance and acceptance of diversity."

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said she was always concerned when parents decided not to vaccinate their children.

Earlier this year the Victorian Government introduced a no jab, no play policy for early child services in the state, which begins next year, but it does not apply to schools.

She cited a recent increase in whooping cough cases as an example of the importance of vaccination.

Ms Hennessy said it was not just about protecting your own child, but other vulnerable members of the community

Associate Professor Jodie McVernon, an expert in infectious diseases from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, told 774 ABC Melbourne the trend away from immunisation was "a national concern".

"Clearly there's greater opportunity for diseases to spread in areas where immunisation falls below what we call the critical protective threshold," she said.

"That varies for different diseases but generally where immunisation is less than about 95 per cent coverage, there's greater chance for infection to spread.

We can't always protect. This is why we rely on the community to immunise as broadly as possible.

Associate Professor Jodie McVernon, infectious disease expert

"We know already there are some areas where immunisation rates are lower and areas exist where people with particular views on immunisation live," she said.

"It's a national concern that we're trying to address by supporting immunisation and supporting parents in their decision-making."

Professor Ackland said it was not uncommon for clusters of chickenpox to break out in primary schools, and the safest way to avoid the disease was to get vaccinated.

"It's not surprising that 80-odd students would get chickenpox in a situation like this," he said.

"The vaccine is not perfect, but in excess of 80 per cent of those who get vaccinated will get protected against chickenpox."

Associate Professor McVernon said vaccinations were important in helping prevent outbreaks and protect vulnerable members of the population.

"We can't always protect. This is why we rely on the community to immunise as broadly as possible," she said.

"Vaccines don't protect us perfectly and for some infectious diseases, vaccines don't protect as well or as long as having had the infection itself.

"Obviously having the vaccine itself is safer, which is why we recommend them."

And finally...

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