Dance teacher who appeared on Australia’s Got Talent is sentenced for rubbing a student’s leg

Australia’s Got Talent dance teacher told a young student we could have been ‘f*** buddies’ before rubbing the teenager’s leg and slapping their buttocks

  • Mark James Barber, 32, plead guilty to sexually assaulting a teenager on Friday
  • He touched student’s leg, buttocks and said they could have been ‘f*** buddies’ 
  • Barber was sentenced to three months in jail, which was suspend for 18 months 

Mark James Barber, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of sexually assaulting a teenager on Friday

A dance teacher who appeared on Australia’s Got Talent has been given a suspended jail term for sexually assaulting a student.

Mark James Barber, from north Brisbane, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault on Friday.

The Caboolture Magistrates Court heard the 32-year-old assaulted the teenage student in his office, Caboolture Shire Herald reported. 

Barber began touching the student’s leg before hugging them and slapping their buttocks.

The court heard Barber said the pair could have been ‘f*** buddies’ if he was younger. 

The victim said the incident left them traumatised and they felt as though they lost their identity.

‘Mark twisted the way I felt,’ the student said in a victim impact statement.  

Barber said he felt ‘significant remorse’ for his actions and has offered to pay for the teenager’s counselling, the court heard. 

The court also heard he joined community groups to help correct his behaviour.

Several positive character references were given to the court for Barber. 

Barber told the court he felt 'significant remorse' for his actions, and has offered to pay for the teenager's counselling

Barber told the court he felt ‘significant remorse’ for his actions, and has offered to pay for the teenager’s counselling

He said his reputation has been damaged since the incident. 

Barber has lost his business and partner since the October assault.

The 32-year-old appeared on Australia’s Got Talent in 2013, before working with a team that appeared on the show in 2019.

Magistrate Peter Hasted sentenced Barber to three months in prison.

The sentence was suspended for 18 months. 


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Ogilvie High School students lament end of girls school set to merge with boys after 57 years

Hobart’s Eli Cropp is the product of Tasmania’s only public all-girls school and is now into her third year of studying medicine.

She believes the start she got at the single-sex Ogilvie High School set her up to succeed.

“One of the best things about my time at Ogilvie was, as a girl, I didn’t see any barriers to what women could become or go on to achieve,” she said.

“Girls could do physics, woodwork, football, without any social pressure.

“Ogilvie girls have gone on to become lawyers, politicians, Rhodes scholars.”

The Tasmanian Government’s announcement on Tuesday that Ogilvie would merge with all-boys New Town High School was greeted happily by some, but left others unconvinced about the merits.

“I hope this announcement doesn’t detract from a really proud legacy of educating girls,” Ms Cropp said.

Some students mourned the loss of single-sex classes.(Supplied: Ogilvie High School)

But Ogilvie High School principal Duncan Groves believed his students were up to the challenge.

“There’s going to be a mixed bag of emotions.

“You’ll get some people that will welcome the change and the opportunities that change will bring to the students but you will still have some members of the greater Hobart community that will mourn the loss of single-sex education in Hobart.”

Some of his students mourned the news.

“For me, it’s probably not something I’d really like because I feel really comfortable with all the girls,” one student told ABC Radio Hobart.

“I feel more positive with just the girls because at this age we kind of feel a bit nervous around the other gender,” another said.

The decision was given the thumbs up by many of the boys at New Town High.

“Sounds pretty exciting, bit of fun, new people and friends, a whole new environment,” said one.

“I think it’s really, really, really great. It mirrors society and needs to happen,” said another.

Hobart's Ogilvie High School
Hobart public girls’ school, Ogilvie High School.(ABC News)

The move will mean parents wanting single-sex education for their children will now have to turn to the private sector.

Parents vented misgivings about the move on the ABC Hobart Facebook page.

“Terrible decision. Some courses have been combined for years, but some students do NOT do well in co-ed high schools. Shame,” posted Keitha Granville.

“These two schools do so well academically and sports wise that there really seems no reason to do this,” wrote Meghan Buregel.

“Not everyone can afford private schools,” said Carol Chapman.

But others were supportive.

“They are best to get used to the way life will be outside of school,” said Elizabeth Hollis.

Single-sex schools no longer a positive for girls

Associate Professor in Education Judith Gill said the long-standing argument that girls were more suited to single-sex schooling had become redundant.

“However, there have been a great many changes in the way our society works and the way younger people understand their roles.”

The Adelaide academic said many girls today relished learning alongside boys.

“After all, we’re going to see them graduate into a world in which girls may be put in managerial positions and be in charge of males as well as females … so learning a bit more about the other seems to be something that too often in single-sex environments gets forgotten about.”

New Town High principal Dave Kilpatrick said single-sex classes were a possibility under the future model.

A balding man in a suit stands in the hallway of a school
Mr Kilpatrick says there will still be capacity for single-sex classes if deemed appropriate.(ABC News: Alexandra Alvaro)

“If it makes more sense for girls to be doing physical education on their own or boys doing physical education on their own, then that might be part of the design,” he said.

Announcing the decision, Tasmania’s Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said more than 90 per cent of the greater Hobart community consulted were in favour.

It would alleviate pressure on an oversubscribed Taroona High School, he said, and neutralise the need for a costly new inner-city high school.

A report commissioned by the Government outlined an increased push across Australia for boys to learn alongside girls.

It acknowledged all-girls schools were “still considered beneficial in terms of confidence and participation” but that the trend was “for parents to seek co-educational options for their boys”.

The report also detailed the notion of a “dream school” in which Ogilvie, New Town and Elizabeth College, in the city, would operate as one school with three campuses — one for grades 7 and 8, another for grades 9 and 10, and the current college campus to continue catering to years 11 and 12.

Exterior of New Town High School, Tasmania.
New Town High School will merge with the girls school.(Facebook: New Town High School)

The Government has allocated $150,000 in the 2020-21 State Budget for the development of a masterplan.

President of the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations Jared Dickason said merging the schools, rather than building a new one, was the right move.

“At the end of the day, there’s only so much money that can be put into education and if we continue to put it into bricks and mortar, are we actually putting it into education?”

Caution urged in transition

Ogilvie High School was opened in 1937 as the New Town Commercial High School and taught both boys and girls.

Madeleine Ogilvie stands outside Parliament
The school was founded by MP Madeleine Ogilvie’s great-uncle.(ABC News: Brian Tegg)

In 1963 it became an all-girls school.

“The idea was to make sure that girls in the public sector had access to that single-sex education,” said Tasmanian independent MP Madeleine Ogilvie, whose great-uncle founded the school.

She said it should be a cautious transition.

“I think it’s really important we recognise there is a demand for education in Hobart that’s unmet,” she said.

“We’ve got Taroona full as a boot, we’ve got Mt Nelson Primary which has doubled in size … and I’m all for using existing assets.

“What we need to do is make sure there are no negative impacts on women’s education.”

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Year 12 Crookwell High students formal | PHOTOS | Goulburn Post

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Crookwell High School 2020 graduating students wrapped up the secondary school years with a formal in Crookwell on Friday, November 13. Check out these photos. Don’t forget to share your photos and news with us on the Goulburn Post website. Read also:


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A night to remember: Year 12 Trinity Catholic College students celebrate the year that was | Goulburn Post

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With a year full of distractions, Trinity Catholic College year 12 students finally received respite as they enjoyed their graduation dinner on Wednesday, November 18. Here are the photos from the night. Photos are courtesy of the Trinity Catholic College Facebook page. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.


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Thailand’s ‘bad students’ get an education from the streets

BANGKOK: A mild-mannered teenage girl with owl glasses, a bob haircut and daisies painted on her fingernails is not your typical school troublemaker.

But in the eyes of Thailand’s ultra-conservative school system, Benjamaporn “Ploy” Nivas has been cast as a rebel for daring to express herself.

The 15-year-old is at the forefront of Thailand’s “bad student” movement which is planning a major rally in Bangkok on Saturday (Nov 21).

“Students should be able to think for themselves and be themselves,” Ploy told AFP during a recent protest at Bangkok’s democracy monument.

READ: Thai protesters take on authorities in ‘rubber duck revolution’ 

Thai schools have very strict dress standards, with ponytails and ribbons mandated for girls and military-style crew cuts for boys.

But after years of having rules drummed into them, Ploy and her fellow high school activists have gone rogue, emboldened by the broader political protest movement currently sweeping Thailand.

The students want cultural change, a curriculum overhaul, equality and a relaxation of rigid rules.

“We are brainwashed … as students we are taught not to ask questions, but to study and memorise facts for exams,” she said.

READ: Thai PM says all laws to be used against protesters

History textbooks are a particular bone of contention in a country which has seen a dozen coups since becoming a democracy in 1932.

School books gloss over events such as the massacre of pro-democracy university students in the 1970s, and instead focus on promoting the work of the monarchy.

The campaign has had a mixed reaction from her teachers.

“If my teachers are on (the) same side with me, the democracy side, they will admire me – but if they want (the status quo) those teachers hate me,” Ploy said.


Youth-led demonstrations have rocked Thailand since July, and have for the most part been peaceful.

But at a rally on Tuesday police used water cannon and tear gas on activists, and six people suffered gunshot wounds.

Despite the dangers, Ploy insists protesting is her duty.

“We cannot afford to be afraid of anything, otherwise we cannot change anything,” she said.

Since August, the “bad student” movement has campaigned for the resignation of Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and even staged a mock funeral for him.

Student protesters carry a portrait of Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan followed by a mock coffin and a white cloth during a street march in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov 14, 2020. (Photo: AP/Sakchai Lalit)

There have long been calls to reform the kingdom’s schools but progress has been piecemeal, said Pumsaran Tongliemnak, an expert at the state-backed Equitable Education Fund.

The Thai government needs to shift its focus from granting access to education to improving its quality, he told AFP, particularly for those who cannot afford expensive private schools.

“The gap between the haves and the have-nots is quite high,” Pumsaran said.

In international assessments, Thai students score lower than the OECD average in maths and science.

They perform particularly badly in reading, and a World Bank report in 2015 noted widespread “functional illiteracy” among students across all types of Thai schools.

The report said problems included chronic teacher shortages, too many under-resourced small schools, and a focus on rote learning.

Corporal punishment is still practised regularly in Thai schools, despite government efforts to ban it.

READ: Thai women use protests to challenge sexism

Teenage girls are the backbone of the “bad student” movement, which Ploy attributes to growing frustrations over the lack of gender equality in Thailand.

“I think that girls and LGBTQ people are suppressed by the patriarchy both at home and at school. This has made me come out to fight for myself and for everyone,” she said.

Ploy and her fellow high school activists have gone rogue, emboldened by the broader political

Ploy and her fellow high school activists have gone rogue, emboldened by the broader political protest movement currently stirring up Thailand. (Photo: AFP/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)


At an early October rally outside a high school in central Bangkok, scores of mostly female students tied white ribbons on the gate.

They covered the student identification numbers embroidered on their uniforms with tape and shielded their faces from the media throng.

A young female student leader made an impassioned speech atop a truck outside the school, demanding respect from teachers instead of “preaching about rules”.

It’s a sentiment that strikes a chord with Vegas, a 16-year-old transgender student forced to change schools because of discrimination and bullying.

Vegas, who declined to give their full name, describes schools as training students to fit in with Thailand’s hierarchical society, rather than challenge or question it.

“Schools are like small dictatorships, with all their rules.”

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SC dismisses plea for waiver of exam fees for class 10, 12 CBSE students

The plea sought direction to waive the fee or direct the Centre to pay to CBSE from the PM Care Fund or any other available resources

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to the CBSE and the Delhi government to waive exam fees for students of classes 10 and 12 in the current academic year in view of COVID-19 and financial problems being faced by some parents.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah dismissed the petition filed by NGO ‘Social Jurist’ against the September 28 order of the Delhi High Court.


“How can the court direct the government to do this? You should give a representation to the government… Dismissed,” the bench said.

The high court had asked the AAP government and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to treat the PIL as a representation and take a decision “in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable to the facts of the case” within three weeks.

The appeal said that due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the income of parents has either disappeared or declined to such a level that it has become difficult for them to arrange even two meal for their families.

It said the high court’s order has resulted in denial of relief to 30 lakh students in the country and three lakh are in Delhi alone.


The plea, filed through lawyer Ashok Agarwal, said either CBSE be asked to waive off the exams fee or the Centre should pay the money from the PM Cares Fund in the country.

For Delhi students, it said that the AAP government may be asked to do the same.

“It may be stated here that till 2018-19 the CBSE Examination fee of students of class X/ XII was very nominal but in the year 2019-20 respondent CBSE increased Examination fee in manifold.

“In the current year 2020-21, CBSE has demanded Examination fee from Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,800 from students of class X and Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,400 from class XII students depending upon number of subjects, practical, etc,” the plea said.


In the last academic year, the Delhi government had paid examination fees to the CBSE of students of class X and XII, but in 2020-21, it has refused to do so citing financial crunch, it said.

The NGO sought direction to the CBSE to waive the fee or direct the Centre to pay to CBSE from “the PM Care Fund or from any other available resources”, it said.


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Students exposed to risk of fraud and grooming while learning online

The department found there were risks from Zoom’s overseas hosting, data analytics, the ability to ‘‘hijack’’ webcams and meetings, and collect health information without consent.

When children’s information is shared online it can be misused, resulting in ‘‘spam, scams, fraud, unwanted contact and grooming or even identity theft’’, according to the eSafety Commissioner, an agency for online safety.

Victorian Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel said children’s login details and school work will have been ‘‘uploaded onto a server somewhere’’ and could be vulnerable to misuse if steps aren’t taken now to ‘‘mop up’’ by archiving or deleting this data.

He said schools would have breached privacy principles during remote learning and fixing the problems should be ‘‘a priority’’.

A department spokeswoman said schools were advised to use department-provided platform Webex for video conferencing.


The department published internal communications on April 4, which did not mandate a platform for remote meetings but warned schools that the free version of Zoom had fewer protections and an increased risk of hijacking.

Yet 24 per cent of primary school teachers used Zoom during remote learning, according to a survey by the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union (AEUVic).

Risks occur with schools use of department-provided and free digital platforms, when technology companies’ privacy practices do not meet state government privacy standards, the Victorian Information Commissioner has reported.

The department should provide greater privacy support to schools, as ‘‘numerous other responsibilities’’ and ‘‘high workloads’’ make it impractical for schools to effectively manage privacy risks, the report said.

Mr Bluemmel said free platforms were a particular concern, because they had fewer privacy protections.
When a platform is free ‘‘that’s usually a warning sign from a privacy perspective’’, he said.

He said the use of digital platforms in remote learning has been ‘‘one of the biggest challenges to privacy in the Victorian public sector context’’.

The state government’s Information Privacy Principles set minimum standards for how government organisations, including schools, manage and protect personal information.

A department spokeswoman said the department ‘‘strongly upholds the privacy and online safety of Victorian school students engaged in remote learning’’.

She said the department advised schools not to use new third-party technologies during remote learning due to challenges with managing privacy, security and safety.

AEUVic’s research officer John Graham said teachers were in a ‘‘survival situation’’ with a very short timeline to move to a ‘‘completely unprecedented’’ system of remote learning.

Mr Graham said the use of digital platforms ‘‘was so much greater than what it had been pre- COVID’’. AEUVic’s survey identified more than 25 digital platforms used by Victorian primary teachers during remote learning.

The most commonly used platforms were Webex (used by 66 percent of teachers), YouTube (54 per cent), Epic! (47 per cent) and Google’s G Suite for Education (44 per cent), the survey found. Others included Mathletics, Compass, Seesaw, Zoom and Facebook.

Department-provided platforms, such as G Suite, also posed privacy risks, the Victorian Information Commissioner’s report said, with data being transferred to the United States and other countries.

Zoom and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

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Covid Threatens College Gains for Black and Latinx Students

Largely low-income, Hispanic, and with parents whose own educations didn’t get past high school, the young people in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas over the past decade started doing something few of their predecessors had done: going to college.

As the community near the Mexican border came together to prioritize education, scores in math and reading on state standardized tests rose. So did high school graduation rates, to 92 percent, from 87 percent, and the proportion of students filling out the federal application for college financial aid. The number who went on to higher education inched up, to 57 percent, from 56 percent.

“We got a lot of people talking about how important going to college is,” said Katherine Díaz, who helps coordinate this work as deputy director for the nonprofit RGV Focus, which stands for Rio Grande Valley. “More students started seeing, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ And they thought, ‘I’m doing this because I want to show my cousins that they can do this too.’”

Then the pandemic descended.

Unemployment in what Texans call “the Valley” peaked at more than 17 percent in the spring. The rate of infections and deaths from Covid-19 was nearly twice what it was in the rest of Texas. Even since tighter restrictions were imposed, the area continues to account for 7 percent of all of the state’s confirmed cases, and two of the eight most affected counties.

Now there’s fear that the Valley’s hard-won educational progress will reverse. As many as half of students from some local schools lack Wi-Fi access, educators say. Many of their families face intensified financial hardship. The proportion of students filling out that financial aid application—an early indicator of intent to go to college—is down at more than half of Rio Grande Valley high schools, the US Department of Education reports.

Community and business groups around the country share the same concern. For the last few years, they have been pushing schools and colleges to improve high school graduation and college enrollment and completion rates—especially for low-income Black and Hispanic students—increasing the supply of skilled workers to compete in the global economy. Many were making measurable progress.

With the pandemic disrupting in-person education and straining budgets, there is growing fear that this momentum is reversing.

“That challenge just got harder,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce in Detroit, which has been working to raise the low proportion of students in that city who go on to college within a year of graduating from high school.

With schools mostly online, nearly one in four public school students in Detroit aren’t logging in or showing up, the superintendent says—many because they don’t have laptops or Wi-Fi. That’s significantly more than in a typical year.

Absenteeism in the spring and fall has been similarly high in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dayton, Hartford, Los Angeles, and other cities, according to data compiled by the Brookings Institution. Experts say that this means dropout rates, which had been declining for more than a decade, will likely start to rise again.

“The students we’re losing—the ones who aren’t showing up or logging in—that’s the future of our workforce,” said Laura Ward, senior vice president for talent development at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Her coalition of advocates in Nashville dedicated to improving the college readiness of local high school graduates now is confined to meeting remotely every Friday morning. Among other things, its members talk about the obstacles confronting students.

“I have literally hung up the phone and had to cry, because the problems are so deep,” Ward said. “There are transportation barriers and food insecurity and housing issues, and it’s getting cold. When you don’t have basic needs met, you can’t learn.”

Heather Hunter, a psychology major at Wichita State University, has a part-time job in a foster-care agency, where she helps with a workshop assisting high school students in foster care with filling out the federal financial aid form. This fall, only four students showed up. Last year, 50 did.

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Best NSW universities for students to get a job


Exclusive: Students at regional universities are more likely to land a job than graduates from prestigious “sandstone” institutions.

Only two big-city universities are among the top 10 for graduate employment this year, exclusive new data obtained by News Corp Australia reveals.

Among the top eight universities nationally, at least three quarters of last year’s graduates found full-time work this year.

But in the worst-performing universities, more than half the graduates were still hunting for a full-time job, four months after finishing their degree.

Charles Sturt University, based in regional NSW, is the nation’s best for job prospects, with 84.7 per cent of students finding full-time work within four months of graduating.

Student nurse Jess Lightfoot said she “fell in love with the campus” at Port Macquarie.

“I felt that they really cared about each student – they reach out to see how we’re doing,” she said.

“I chose nursing because I knew I didn’t want to work in an office and be stuck inside answering phones.

“I wanted to be working with people, helping them in their time of need, and making a real difference.”

Charles Sturt University Bachelor of Nursing student, Jessica Lightfoot. Picture: Liam Driver

Charles Sturt University’s acting vice-chancellor, Professor John Germov, said the uni produced “employment-ready graduates”.

“The courses and staff have connections to industry-leading practitioners and a focus on practical placements and learning which ensure our graduates are sought-after,” he said.

Charles Sturt University has campuses in Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga.

At a rival NSW regional university, eight out of 10 graduates from the University of New England found a full-time job within four months, making it the second-best performer nationally.

The Armidale-based university was one of only three across Australia which could boast of a higher employment rate this year, rising from 78.2 per cent in 2019 to 80.6 per cent in 2020.

Acting vice-chancellor Professor John Germov from Charles Sturt University.

Acting vice-chancellor Professor John Germov from Charles Sturt University.

The University of NSW, with a 76.2 per cent employment rate for graduates, and the University of Sydney, with 75.1 per cent, were the only “sandstone universities” in the top 10.

Southern Cross University, based in Lismore, has a 75.1 per cent employment rate., while the University of Newcastle had 74.4 per cent of graduates finding a full-time job straight from uni.

Among University of Technology Sydney graduates, 70.8 per cent found full-time work.

The University of Wollongong and Macquarie University had average employment rates, just under 69 per cent.

But at Western Sydney University, only 58.8 per cent of graduates found a job within four months of finishing a bachelor’s degree.



The nation’s worst-performing universities for job outcomes are in Victoria and Western Australia.

Barely 54 per cent of students at the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University were in full-time work four months after graduation.

Just 57 per cent of students at the University of Melbourne, Edith Cowan University and Victoria University had found full-time work, along with 59 per cent of graduates from the University of the Sunshine Coast and Torrens University.

In the ACT, the University of Canberra (71.5 per cent) was slightly ahead of the Australian National University (69.2 per cent).

Across Australia, 68.7 per cent of university graduates found full-time work this year, within four months of graduating – down from 72.2 per cent in 2019.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said nine out of 10 Australian university graduates find full-time work within three years of graduation.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had a “major impact” on graduate employment rates this year.

He said the federal government would spend $550 million for up to 30,000 extra university places next year, as well as short courses for Australians to upskill during the COVID-19 recession.


Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: Supplied

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: Supplied


The survey, commissioned by the federal Department of Education, does not reveal whether graduates found work in the same field they studied at university.

It says graduates from regional universities are more likely to be older, and to study online and part-time.

“(They) are more likely to have completed vocational degrees and … have also fared better in the current downturn,” it says.

The Education Department said the COVID-19 recession had cut full-time employment rates among most university graduates this year.

“Graduates from regional universities are more likely to be older, studying externally and part-time, and maintain a continuing connection with the labour market,” its survey says.

“(This) explains, in part, why graduates from these universities may have fared better in the current downturn.”

The employment rates are based on graduates looking for full-time work, four months after finishing an undergraduate degree.


Originally published as Best NSW universities for students to get a job

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