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Media Release: Conspiracy of Silence About the Right to Withdraw Children from NAPLAN Tests

Monday May 13, 2013

The public education group Save Our Schools has accused education authorities of failing to inform parents about their right to withdraw their children from the NAPLAN tests which begin Tuesday. Trevor Cobbold, national convenor of SOS, said there is a “conspiracy of silence” about parents’ right to withdraw their children.

“There is a widespread misapprehension amongst parents, and even school principals and teachers, that sitting the NAPLAN tests is compulsory. Many do not know that parents can withdraw their child.

“This misapprehension is being encouraged by education authorities around Australia.

“The information brochure for parents on NAPLAN produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) gives the impression that the tests are mandatory. It states that “all students” in Years 3, 5, 7 & 9 “are expected to participate” in the tests. It fails to state that parents can withdraw their child from NAPLAN.

“This the brochure is widely used by schools to inform parents about NAPLAN. Many schools use it in newsletters for families. It means that many parents, teachers and even principals remain unaware that parents have the right to withdraw their children from NAPLAN. Many have told SOS that they thought NAPLAN is mandatory.

“There is a stark contrast in the brochure between the absence of information on the right of withdrawal and its advice about exemptions for some students. It clearly advises that formal exemptions may be granted to students with a significant intellectual disability, have recently arrived in Australia and are from a non-English speaking background some students and it advises parents how to apply for an exemption.

“It can only be concluded that the absence of a statement that parents can withdraw their child is designed to mislead parents into believing that NAPLAN is mandatory.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the NAPLAN website does inform parents they can withdraw their child and that a similar statement should have been included in the ACARA brochure because it is widely used by schools.

Mr. Cobbold also accused state education departments of failing to inform parents about their right of withdrawal.

“While some education authorities are doing their duty in properly informing parents that they can withdraw their children, most are not. Only two education department websites (NSW & NT) clearly state that parents can withdraw their children from NAPLAN.

“The ACT, Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian, Victorian and Western Australian education department websites all fail to inform parents of this right. Several provide a link to the ACARA Parent Information brochure which fails to inform parents that they can withdraw their child.

“ This conspiracy of silence must end. Education authorities have to be more honest in future with parents.

“ACARA should revise its Parent Information brochure on NAPLAN to include clear advice to parents that they can withdraw their child from NAPLAN if they wish and how they can do so.

“Education departments should be instructed to provide advice on their parent and community pages that parents can withdraw their children from NAPLAN and provide withdrawal forms.

“Education departments should instruct school principals to include information in school newsletters advising parents that they can withdraw their child from NAPLAN. Schools should have withdrawal forms readily available for parents, including on school websites.”

Commenting is closed for this article.

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