Speaking at the Council for Education Associations of South Australia Education (CEASA) Policy Forum, Greens Education spokesperson Tammy Franks MLC has demanded that an Education Ombudsman must be a top priority for whom ever is the state's Premier after March 17.
Ms Franks flagged that the Greens would introduce legislation to enact the Ombudsman role “to provide the transparency and independent oversight of our education system that will look after our students and teachers.”
“We have an ombudsman for many areas of life, but not for education, despite the fact that all of us spend more than a decade in our schools,” she said. Of course it will cost some money, but do we really want to head down the path of Royal Commissions after the fact rather than an independent arbiter to head off problems before they become the crises Royal Commissions are made of?
“At present just where does a South Australian parent current go with a complaint? The only avenue is the education department, which must then investigate itself. This is completely unsatisfactory. The Debelle Inquiry is evidence of the appalling results that come from such an arrangement.
“Similarly, educators should be employed knowing they have the protection of a system where there is proper, independent oversight.”
One issue raised by the CEASA forum was the role of suspensions, with Ms Franks pointing to this an example to highlight the need for such an ombudsman.
“Student suspensions should not be used a diversionary measure, while, currently, there is no process of appeal. An Education Ombudsman could bring much needed scrutiny here, ensuring processes work to the benefit of children rather than for reasons of funding or diversion.
“For this and many other reasons, it is time for South Australian students, parents and teachers to benefit from the transparency and independence afforded by a standalone ombudsman,” she concluded.