“In the end, we welcome oversight and feedback. It helps us to get better at what we do. We are absolutely focused on creating courageous, creative solutions and not on political nuances such as whether or not Riverside Grammar should be called a school,” he said.
“I’m thrilled to be working with such peak bodies as CCYP and Consumer Affairs Victoria in the struggle to re-engage many of Victoria’s young people in education.”
All Victorian primary and secondary schools must be registered with the regulator and are required to meet minimum standards for governance, financial management, curriculum, teaching practice and providing a safe environment for children.
The registration process normally takes about 18 to 24 months.
Education Minister James Merlino previously told The Age that he was “extremely concerned about any entity masquerading as a school without the necessary regulatory oversight, educational reporting and school-specific child safety standards required by law”.
The referral to Consumer Affairs Victoria relates to allegations of misleading or deceptive conduct.
Riverside Grammar has been sent a legal letter by the Department of Education, demanding the school remove all references to Virtual School Victoria (VSV), a government school.
On its website, Riverside Grammar had a page called “Virtual School Victoria” and said it could “enrol new students, who do not wish to continue their enrolment at their origin school, in the state government run Virtual School Victoria program”.
In the legal letter, seen by The Age, the department says there is no formal or informal agreement between Riverside and VSV and that they have concerns about the representations being made on the website and in the unregistered school’s prospectus.
The department claims this is likely to be misleading or deceptive, and therefore in breach of Australian consumer law.
On Thursday, the Riverside Grammar website had been taken down. Dr Carnegie said they were reviewing the site in accordance with Department of Education suggestions.
Paul O’Halloran, a workplace relations lawyer who assists schools in addressing compliance issues among school staff, said that providers of education operating outside traditional regulatory structures should be a concern to parents, staff and students.
“I think one area where the community wants transparency and specific regulation is around school environments,” he said.
“This appears to be a gap in the VRQA regulatory scheme that needs to be remedied to ensure safety and compliance, as more of these ‘off grid’ schools could appear in future.”
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