Appeal lodged after school’s re-registration application knocked back

Adventist Schools Australia director Dr Daryl Murdoch.

An appeal has been lodged for a Seventh-day Adventist school in Hobart, Tasmania, after its application for re-registration was not renewed.

Hilliard Christian School was informed by the Schools Registration Board (SRB) on Monday (December 12) that it would not be renewing the school’s registration as a non-government school for 2017, due to issues with non-compliance with delivering the Australian curriculum, and with supplying professional development for teachers.

"... it is my view that the time given for Hilliard Christian School to rectify its non-compliance has been insufficient ..."

Seventh-day Adventist Schools (Tasmania) Ltd, which operates Hilliard Christian School, has lodged an appeal with the Magistrates Court (Administrative Appeals Division) and is confident it has a strong case. An early hearing is being sought.

Dr Daryl Murdoch, director of Adventist Schools Australia, said he is at a loss to understand the approach taken by the SRB to not allow a reasonable time period to address remaining areas of curriculum compliance.

“Towards the end of the school year the Schools Registration Board granted the school just a few weeks to address areas of curriculum non-compliance,” Dr Murdoch said.

“Despite the short notice, the principal and staff—supported by external consultants, Independent Schools Tasmania and Adventist Schools Australia—are working hard to ensure the educational needs of the students and families are met.”

Parents were informed of the situation at a special meeting on Monday night, with many expressing their support for the school.

Dr Murdoch noted with regret the impact on the school community: “. . . we as a system are very disappointed and apologetic that they have been placed in this situation”.

Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he was disappointed that the registration had not been renewed, but that he had “no power to intervene in any decision made by the board”.

Independent Schools Tasmania (IST) executive director Tony Crehan also expressed disappointment at the decision, adding that IST was supporting the school’s efforts to find a satisfactory resolution for the students, families and staff.

“Although IST cannot condone any school operating in breach of the standards determined by the Minister for Education, it is my view that the time given for Hilliard Christian School to rectify its non-compliance has been insufficient, requiring, as it does, significant procedural change and professional development for staff,” Mr Crehan said.

“The SRB review panel visit took place on 17 October 2016 and the SRB decision was made on 2 December 2016, only seven weeks later.”

Mr Crehan also recalled from his experience as an SRB member that previous policy was to conduct reviews at least six months before the expiry of the current registration period.

Hilliard Christian School caters for 117 students from Kindergarten to Year 10 and has been operating for more than 100 years.

“NAPLAN results clearly indicate that student learning is of a pleasing standard and Christian values are front and centre,” Dr Murdoch said.

Adventist Schools Australia operates 48 schools across Australia and meets registration requirements in all other states and territories.