What a boy wants: an accidental discovery
Volume 8 Number 1, 2005; Pages 18–23
The authors recount their efforts to pilot the innovative ‘Learning Styles’ pedagogy at a socio-economically disadvantaged secondary school in Melbourne. Using the Dunn and Dunn model of teaching to students' preferred learning styles – visual, auditory, tactile and kinaesthetic, Barker and Terry changed the pedagogical approaches in their VCE Psychology and English classes to match the individual learning styles of their students – with dramatic effect. The article explains how the pilot program was implemented, and describes the effects it had on the students, especially the boys, and the school. A table mapping activities to learning styles is also contained in the article.
Subject HeadingsBoys' education
Teaching and learning
Teaching boys with heart
Volume 8 Number 1, 2005; Pages 4–5
This article is an edited version of a paper presented by the author at the APPA-NZPF Trans-Tasman conference in June 2004. In it Hartman recalls the journey that research into boy's education has made, and re-iterates the main findings of that research – essentially that teachers make a difference in boys' experiences of schooling, that competence in literacy will lead to boys being more engaged in their learning, that schools should value what boys do and read outside of the classroom, and that teachers be aware that their relationships with boys are crucial to boys' experiences, identity and behaviour.
Subject HeadingsBoys' education
Are you physically educated? Do you play games?
February 2005; Pages 16–17
Palmer promotes the virtues of encouraging young people to physically play games, citing benefits for their physical, emotional and intellectual development. Games develop young people’s motor skills, which enables them to maintain their physical abilities later in life. Games impart values and teach responsibility, helping young people to develop a sense of fairness and a confidence to gauge opportunities and make strategic choices, individually and in collaboration with others. This article describes and explains different kinds of games, and highlights their relevance to the development of particular skills, values and attitudes in young people.
Key Learning AreasHealth and Physical Education
Subject HeadingsPhysical education
February 2005; Pages 18–19
With the increase in Internet usage and the proliferation of mobile phones, especially amongst the young, there has been a growing incidence of cyber-bullying, the use of the technology as a means to intimidate and harm others. Bamford identifies the different kinds of cyber-bullying, including anonymity, the use of pseudonyms, masquerading as someone else, flaming, outing and exclusion, and explains the kinds of actions teachers, and, more generally, adults can take to reduce its occurrence. Those actions include educating young people in critical media literacies, instilling in them a ‘sense of right and wrong’, and working with them in the ‘virtual environment’ to promote positive uses of the technologies. Bamford also calls for professional development for teachers in cyber-safety.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Leaders: crucial to school improvement
Number 62, February 2005; Pages 43–45
School leadership is crucial to school improvement because it affects the ‘recruitment and development of teachers’ and student outcomes. This article summarises the findings of work commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that considered the impact of school leadership on teachers and schools. It asserts that of the organisational models available to schools and school leaders, the most effective seem to be those that conform most closely to Organisational Learning. The features which characterise this organisational model – continuous improvement, collaborative learning, shared mission, preparedness for taking the initiative – are most conducive to creating organisations in which teachers are autonomous and their work is respected by students. Teachers’ level of job satisfaction is therefore likely to be better, their motivation to learn more pronounced, and student outcomes, in turn, higher. Mulford also points out that this model, Organisational Learning, is premised on distributive leadership, a form of leadership which sees all teachers taking leadership responsibilities, and which is crucial to continuous improvement in schools. The article also considers the issue of leadership preparation, and lists the OECD recommendations with regards to school leadership which emanated from the research.
The impact of ‘servant leadership’ in schools
Number 62, February 2005; Pages 17–19
In this article Moran reports on the findings of a survey which sought to establish the level of ‘servant leadership’ in schools. Servant leadership is a form of leadership identified by Robert Greenleaf, in which the leaders see themselves as being at the service of others and their organisations, helping to create an environment in which others feel empowered to carry out their responsibilities in ways that promote servant leadership. To test for this type of leadership in schools, Moran used the Organisational Leadership Assessment instrument, developed by James Laub, in a sample of 85 Victorian primary schools. The instrument – a survey – sought responses on six key areas which were deemed vital to servant leadership – building communities; valuing of people; developing people; authentic practice; provision of leadership; and the sharing of leadership. The implementation of the survey and the results are described in the article.
When a good school is not good enough
Number 62, February 2005; Pages 15–16
According to Tirozzi, schools satisfaction with being ‘good’ is stopping them from achieving excellence. Good, he cautions, is an acceptance of the status quo, condemning schools to mediocrity, and, even falling behind ‘on the continuum of school improvement’. To overcome this trap, school leaders have to take responsibility for providing a purposeful vision which harnesses the commitment of all staff in a ‘collaborative way', and need to change the culture of the school so that its collective focus is one of nurturing and achieving higher expectations.
Improving country schools: facing the challenge
Number 62, February 2005; Pages 7–10
Alan Clifford is the principal of Castlemaine Secondary College in rural Victoria. In this article he discusses the changes the school had to make to its curriculum, and its teacher’s professional development, in order to prevent it from becoming marginalised as just another underperforming, disadvantaged rural school. The school’s demographic composition was under threat from an exodus of middle class students to private schools in a nearby bigger town – Bendigo. In order to retain this student base, the school developed a more responsive curriculum, which included differential learning pathways in the middle years, and a music education program. Teacher training focused on the middle years, with the adoption of the Middle Years Pedagogy Research and Development project (MYPRAD). For its efforts, Castlemaine was listed as a ‘high achieving state secondary college’ in 2002, by the Birrell Report, a Monash University study. Clifford describes the transformation of the school in detail in the article, and draws attention to some of the school’s current initiatives.
School leadership: back on track?
Autumn 2005; Pages 16–18
After a period of neglect, the development of leadership capacity in Australian schools is currently receiving close attention through programs such as Learn:Lead:Succeed. Professional associations, especially principals’ associations, are pushing for more explicit national standards for teaching and for more support for the development of school leaders. The National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership (NIQTSL) aims to introduce a national school leadership learning program. Developed in collaboration with professional associations, the program will be offered from 2006. The NIQTSL is also working on leadership standards for teachers and principals at primary and secondary levels.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
Teaching and learning
Undertrained, overstretched and essential
Autumn 2005; Pages 35–37
Heads of Department in schools have main responsibility for implementation of the curriculum and teaching in their subject areas. They also have whole-of-school responsibility to implement school policy, and within their department they must convey feedback from teachers to the principal. Heads of Department need to be accomplished classroom teachers, have strong knowledge and commitment to their subject areas, be good managers, and be driven to extend their skills and knowledge. They also need to be emotionally strong and self-aware. Research by Steve Dinham indicates that the middle executive level in schools is the level most stressed and dissatisfied. Heads suffer from excessive workload, and from lack of training and support specific to their role, while their pay is not much greater than that of a classroom teacher. It would be counter-productive to reduce their workload by reducing classroom teaching, which is needed to keep Heads connected to school life. Heads should have salary increments leading toward principal rates. They should also have periods of secondment to education departments in the areas of curriculum, professional development or assessment.
March 2005; Pages 39–40
The author describes security systems used successfully in two contrasting New South Wales schools where he has worked as school leader. Thomas Reddall High School, located in an area of high unemployment and social dysfunction on the outskirts of Sydney, was exposed to intrusion from an adjoining tavern and shopping centre. At the time of the author's incumbency the school had only Year 7 students. Responsibility for protecting the school grounds was assigned to the students ‘most likely to vandalise the school’. Parents were recruited into School Watch teams and were briefed by trained security officers. The parents were covered by public liability insurance. The school was opened to community use at weekends – although this move created some security problems it was on balance a deterrent to vandalism. Fencing was put up to protect the most vulnerable sides of the property. Occupants of houses near the school were asked to report vandalism. Safety was enhanced by creating a culture intolerant to violence at the school. Methods included the publication of a conflict resolution policy, discussion with parents at public meetings about appropriate behaviour for resolving conflicts, ‘some clear and firm messages in newsletters’, and in extreme cases, court action and requests for intervention by police. St Paul’s Grammar School is based in a semi-rural area on the western fringe of Sydney. The school appointed a live-in caretaker to look after grounds and general maintenance issues as well as to provide security. However, other staff at the school were urged to take collective responsibility for security.
School and community
Number 140, 2004
Professional development (PD) for teachers is typically delivered by experts external to the school, and usually does little to develop teachers’ skills in the classroom. PD should be reconceived as activities that actually develop teachers’ classroom practice and should be renamed ‘professional learning’ to break its deeply entrenched association with traditional forms of PD. Professional learning should be distinguished from information-giving sessions, eg conferences or government briefings on a new curriculum, that address broader, longer term goals hard to measure against classroom practice. Effective professional learning is usually based in the school and is sensitive to a teacher’s context and individual needs and qualities. The most effective ways to improve teachers' classroom practice are to have them observe other classes and receive feedback on their own performance from other teachers. The best way to improve their lessons is through targeted lesson studies. However, teachers are usually reluctant to adopt these forms of learning due to fear of exposing their ‘weaknesses’. Other teachers are reluctant to mentor them, due to time pressures, a fear of being seen as arrogant, or a school culture that discourages cooperation, or is risk-averse and tolerant of mediocrity. School leaders can establish school-wide commitment to professional learning though strategies such as pedagogy audits, ‘walk-throughs’, and surveys of staff and students. Dialogue between teachers can be stimulated by team teaching, team planning, involvement in teacher networks and action research projects. Professional learning should define a specific teacher behaviour to be improved, eg techniques for questioning students, and should specify ways to achieve it. Targets should be measurable within a practical timeframe. Professional learning should also accommodate each teacher’s learning style, and should be in a form practically available at the school.
Teaching and learning
10 March 2005; Page 17
There are several reasons for the current shortage of skilled workers in Australia. Young people and parents have perceived university degrees rather than trade qualifications as the pathways to the most financially rewarding careers. Many employers have relied on existing skilled workers, technology or outsourcing instead of investing in training. The Australian Government's New Apprenticeship program ‘may have been at the expense of trade apprenticeships’. Its participants often lack the skill development obtained during traditional apprenticeships. Skilled migration does not offer a long term solution to skill shortages. Successful OECD countries have addressed the problem of skill shortages at each of the secondary, vocational and tertiary levels of education. Promising developments include the Australian Government’s plans for 24 technical colleges, and its improved funding for school-based vocational programs. Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia will all provide a compulsory learning or training guarantee for youth, and Victoria has set voluntary targets for Year 12 or equivalent completion rates. However further improvements are needed in the New Apprenticeships program and in the VET in schools program. Employers need to invest more heavily in training. See also related article in the same edition, A clever country keeps its kids in school.
Subject HeadingsWestern Australia (WA)
Transitions in schooling
VET (Vocational Education and Training)
Recent changes in England’s curriculum, assessment, reporting and teaching practices have increased and highlighted pressures on teachers. England’s National Remodelling Team supports schools as they implement changes outlined in a National Workload Agreement. The Agreement is designed to improve teachers’ working conditions and raise standards for students. It has been endorsed by the Government, employers, and teacher unions with the exception of the National Union of Teachers. Remodelling involves reforms to work practices, to the deployment of staff and to overall culture at all maintained schools in England. The success of remodelling will be measured in terms of morale of school staff, pupils, parents and school leaders. The paper is an extension of the author’s address at the Making Schools Better conference. It is further developed in ‘Remodelling schools for tomorrow’, Occasional Paper No 88, 2004, IARTV.
Subject HeadingsTeacher evaluation