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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Abstracts

Global perspectives on growth in secondary education

Volume 23 Number 2, June 2005; Page 7
A Motivans, M Bruneforth, A Kennedy

The Global Education Digest 2005, published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, reflects that secondary education is increasingly seen as an educational imperative by countries around the world. Secondary education is now part of the compulsory years of schooling in many countries, a factor which has contributed to the increase in the number of young people participating at that level of education. In South America, the number of secondary students doubled between 1990 and 2002, and in East Asia participation rates were at 70 per cent in 2002, an increase from 44 per cent in 1990. As the authors of this article point out, while this trend is welcomed, issues of gender parity in access to secondary education still have to be addressed in many countries. The uneven implementation of vocational and technical education programs worldwide is also examined.

KLA

Subject Headings

Secondary education
Retention rates in schools
Education research
Education

Transition from primary to secondary schooling: valuing alternative literacies as a strategy for fostering academic success

Volume 10 Number 2, June 2005; Pages 39–40
Jessica Tennant

Making the transition from primary to secondary school can be an unsettling experience for many students. It is also a time when many students are at risk of disengagement from learning. Further refining and developing skills that students already possess, by using activities, media and content that they find stimulating, is one way to build their confidence and self-esteem. According to Tennant, given students’ favourable disposition to digital media, developing their digital, media and critical literacy skills might be one way to engage them in the curriculum and develop their self-esteem. Students should be taught to analyse, evaluate and make judgements about the media with which they engage, and an extension of this is helping them to develop a critical disposition and skills to evaluate websites and their content. Experiencing success through engagement with these alternative literacies will help to bridge the gap between primary and secondary school for many students.

KLA

Subject Headings

Transitions in schooling
Literacy
Information literacy
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Using ‘real world’ texts in the reading program

Volume 10 Number 2, June 2005; Pages 11–14
Lyn Tonkin

For English teachers and their students, engaging with various forms of text is crucial, not only for the development of students’ competencies in using and interpreting texts, but also for helping them to explore their own identities in relation to their world and those of others. Maintaining students’ sense of engagement with both the text and their world is directly related to the immediacy of the content and themes of the text to their lives, a condition which necessitates a thorough understanding of students’ social contexts and backgrounds. Lyn Tonkin describes the methodology employed in a teacher education course at the University of South Australia where participants create a unit of work for classroom use which relies on knowledge of students’ real world experiences, and seeks to introduce the students to different types of texts which relate to their lives. Tonkin describes how issues, topics, themes and events for classroom exploration are selected, identifies the different kinds of texts which can be used, and demonstrates the connections to the curriculum framework.

Key Learning Areas

English

Subject Headings

Pedagogy
Teacher training

Scaffolding reading on the Internet

Volume 10 Number 2, June 2005; Pages 5–8
Jane Pitt

Students need to be adept in their use of the Internet, and in their interpretation of the information available there. Pitt demonstrates, by explanation and example, a way in which primary teachers can foster competent use of the Internet, while remaining faithful to sound pedagogical practices. The curriculum model that she uses establishes the nature of the Internet inquiry and its relevance to students, demonstrates the task to students, and requires them to work collaboratively in their acquisition of the navigation, research and interpretative skills required of Internet users. The curriculum model and a unit of work are outlined in the article.

KLA

Subject Headings

Information literacy
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Pedagogy

A case for community-based education

Volume 72 Number 4, May 2005; Pages 34–36
Linda J Tompkins

According to Linda Tompkins, merely using students’ local communities for excursions does not fulfil community-based education requirements. Students and classes actually have to enter into partnerships with community organisations, and use their expertise to contribute to, or bring about change in, the community. Over a four-year period, Tompkins was able to create meaningful, authentic educational experiences for her classes by identifying environmental problems in the local community, and collaborating with local organisations, local government bodies and universities to solve them. Representatives of these organisations shared their knowledge, skills and insights with students on a particular problem, and empowered them to address the situation. Projects typically extended over the whole school year, and students were encouraged and supported to involve the broader community by writing letters to local newspapers and by presenting their work to local organisations.

Key Learning Areas

Science

Subject Headings

Science teaching
Science
School and community

The teen parent academy

Volume 72 Number 3, March 2005; Pages 40–43
H Prentice Baptiste jr, Diane Walker

Teen pregnancy places female students at risk of dropping out of school and predisposes them to socioeconomic disadvantage. As is the case with all students, encouraging pregnant teenagers to continue in education requires that the curriculum be made relevant to their needs and aspirations. The authors describe the key features of a program in the United States, which has been designed to support pregnant students between the ages of 13 and 20 to complete their schooling. The program is led by the educational needs of the students as they arise, as well as by their prior knowledge and experiences. Science classes, for example, investigate issues such as water treatment, environmental safety, and nutrition and hygiene. Students’ identity and self-esteem are also supported by introducing them to the contributions women scientists made to the discipline.

Key Learning Areas

Science

Subject Headings

Pregnancy and adolescents
Science
Science teaching

The golden age of Islam and science teaching

Volume 72 Number 3, March 2005; Pages 37–39
Konstantinos Alexakos, Wladina Antoine

Konstantinos and Wladina contend that science is culturally and historically contingent, and that science curricula should include historical approaches to science to demonstrate to students the contributions made to scientific endeavour by different cultures, and the historical and cultural limitations of scientific inquiry. In this vein they describe the historical contribution made to science by the Arabs and Islam, and the circumstances which led to a decline of scientific inquiry in Europe during the Dark Ages, and its resurrection during the Renaissance.

Key Learning Areas

Science

Subject Headings

Science
Science teaching
Islam

A rationale for cultural awareness in the science classroom

Volume 72 Number 3, March 2005; Pages 32–35
Genevieve Bardwell, Eric Kincaid

Teachers from minority cultural groups (African–American and Hispanic) are underrepresented among science teachers in the United States. This lack of cultural diversity among science teachers has led to concern that students from minority backgrounds may be disadvantaged in the science curriculum if teachers are not suitably aware of how to teach in a culturally inclusive manner. A program conducted by the West Virginia Health Sciences and Technology Academy has attempted to address the issue by conducting science courses for students from culturally diverse backgrounds, using teachers who desire the experience of teaching in a more culturally inclusive manner. The result is two fold: students from underrepresented cultural groups are able to have their interest in the discipline enhanced by engaging with science in culturally relevant ways, and their teachers are able to receive professional development and experience in using culturally inclusive practices in the classroom.

Key Learning Areas

Science

Subject Headings

Multiculturalism
Multicultural education
Science teaching
Social justice

School sport: marketing or education?

Volume 30 Number 1,  2005; Pages 9–14
Peter Lennox

The educational benefits of school sport are threatened by the increasing use of sporting scholarships to attract students with outstanding skills. The arguments advanced for sports scholarships contain flaws and conceal the problems caused by excessive competition between schools. Most high-performing school athletes will never be good enough to make a living from playing sport. Most sports careers require qualifications in marketing or sports medicine rather than outstanding sports performances. Evidence suggests that parents are unlikely to select schools on the basis of their sports results, and are more concerned about values, discipline and other elements of school culture. Parents with strong interest in sports results are still likely to object if sports scholarships for top athletes in the later years displace their own high-performing children from competitions. School morale should not, and usually does not, depend on winning premierships. School sport can develop character, but elite professional athletes do not always provide good character models. While professional sport aims at public entertainment and commercial gain, school sport should aim at promoting active, healthy lifestyles, developing self-discipline, camaraderie, physical teamwork and strategic thinking skills, and having fun. Success is usually valued more highly when it is the result of ‘an even tussle’ rather than uneven sides which also increase the risk of injury, especially for adolescents.

Key Learning Areas

Health and Physical Education

Subject Headings

Marketing
Private schools
Sport
Competition

Split the difference

1 August 2005; Pages 6–7
Janet da Silva

Composite classes, where children from different year levels are taught in the same classroom by one teacher, are now common in Australian schools. Parents often worry that children won’t be able to cope or won’t be challenged by the work taught, and there is evidence that single-grade classes show slightly higher levels of achievement. Supporters of composite classes point to more individualised teaching as well as increased opportunities for leadership, role-modelling and mentoring among students. These can increase the self-esteem of older students, whom younger children look up to on sporting, musical and artistic grounds as well as academically.Younger students can benefit from the higher academic standards and positive study habits being modelled.Critics argue that composite classes increase ability gaps, are more challenging for teachers and often result in older children becoming classroom assistants rather than progressing in their own learning. Teacher ability is viewed by both critics and supporters as the key determinant in classroom success. See also related article on Spensley Street, a multi-age primary school where children are mixed across all ages and abilities.

KLA

Subject Headings

Curriculum planning
Class size
Classroom management

Board governance: how can it cope?

Volume 30 Number 1; Pages 19–21
Jim Mills

Successful governance in Australian independent schools usually depends on adherence to the corporate governance plan by both the Head and the school board. Another feature of successful governance is that the 'institutional memory' of the board is maintained, for example by having three year terms for each member, and at least one three year term for the chairperson. While turnover in board membership is often advocated as a means to introduce fresh ideas, innovation can also come from older board members who have demonstrated ability and a history with the school. 'Institutional memory' can be lost when members leave soon after appointing a new Head, giving their leader little time to adjust and begin working toward agreed goals. Conflict between the Head and new board members can often be noted in these cases. Careful planning when a new Head is appointed, with efforts made to gain the allegiance of the wider school community, can help to ensure a seamless transition. Board members should be selected on the basis of their aptitude for the role. They should also receive a solid induction. Members should regularly evaluate the board's performance. All members should be involved in the decision making process. Members must be able to support board leaders within agreed plans, without resorting to scape-goating or undermining individuals as issues arise. Where a desired outcome is not reached, members should first check that sufficient resources and monitoring occurred. Strong relationships between leaders and other members are crucial to good governance.

KLA

Subject Headings

School and community
School leadership

And the winner is... (the trouble with classroom competition)

July 2005
Susan Black

Competition between students should be reserved for elective activities outside the classroom. Classroom competition is counterproductive, especially in the early phase of a learning process. Students' classroom competition encourages teachers and students to focus on winning rather than learning, which can lead to further problems such as cheating. For high performing students, competition creates stress as they fight to acquire or maintain first place. Lower performing students can experience competition as a form of punishment, and often feel they are less valued than other students. To encourage cooperative learning teachers must do more than simply put students into groups. They should create positive interdependence, where students' individual success depends on teamwork, and where mutual support is encouraged. Students should be asked to apply their social skills to the team's work in areas such as leadership and conflict resolution. Teachers can encourage cooperative learning through the forms of the questions they ask. Questions with one right answer are usually responded to by the same few top students, but questions requiring deep thinking can encourage a broader sharing of ideas in class or small groups.

KLA

Subject Headings

Teaching and learning
Co-operation
Competition

The instructional website as a focus for teacher-librarian and teacher collaboration: a research study

Volume 3 Number 1, June 2005; Pages 29–38
James Herring

Instructional websites can be developed by a school as a curriculum resource, intranet or ICT training tool, through programs such as Frontpage and Dreamweaver. These websites can foster professional exchange amongst teaching staff and between teachers and librarians. A recent study has investigated the value of instructional websites at Linlithgow Academy, a Scottish secondary school which has developed a range of websites on a limited budget. The study found that the websites have increased staff collaboration and improved planning around specific projects. Staff have also benefitted from an increased exchange of ideas and teaching methods and better provision for professional development and resource needs. Students have shown improvements in the quality of work produced and improvement in ICT and information literacy skills. Finding time and resources were the main challenges to collaborative work, although impromtu meetings and staff commitment helped to resolve these. Increased student involvement in website planning and production, scaffolding of tasks, inclusion of  information literacy guidelines and greater teacher control of websites are some of the potential future developments for website collaboration. The article also includes a literature review and excerpts from interviews undertaken in the research process.

Key Learning Areas

Technology

Subject Headings

Websites
Education research
Educational planning
Technology
Teacher-Librarians

School libraries and blogs

Volume 3 Number 1, June 2005; Pages 39–49
Laurel A. Clyde

Weblogs, or blogs, are used by staff in the school education sector to post information, circulate professional development material, update subject information, engage parents and the community, and develop literacy, debate, writing and comprehension skills within the classroom. School libraries are also using blogs to support reading and special interest groups, assist with homework activities, and provide links to authoritative web resources. Library staff also use blogs internally to manage information and exchange ideas. Only a small number of school libraries have blogs that are available externally, despite the fact that blogs can offer a cheap and easy online presence. Factors discouraging the use of blogs include the potential threat of spam, misuse by contributors and the challenge of keeping information up to date. In general, students have not yet made much use of the interactive feature of blogs available to them in the school library.

Key Learning Areas

Technology

Subject Headings

Websites
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
School libraries

Leadership for inclusion: overcoming barriers to progress – An account of practice in an English secondary school

Mel Ainscow, Ian Kaplan

Hillside Secondary School in northern England, a disadvantaged school using run-down premises in an ethnically divided community, saw a strong improvement in student outcomes after a series of interventions from a leading staff member. He joined the school as deputy head in 1987, and identified problems including poor academic results, persistent vandalism by some students, and perception of students ‘in deficit terms’ by teachers. He identified strengths in the generally good atmosphere among staff, and strong student performance in sport. There were a range of obstacles to improving the school. The heads of subject departments enjoyed considerable autonomy and were hard to influence. He himself was seen as an outsider and unduly optimistic about reform. There was a strategic dilemma in campaigning for internal school change while presenting a positive image externally. After his appointment as head in 1994 school enrolment improved substantially as a result of modest improvements in academic results, promotion of school strengths and honesty about its current limitations, and a positive perception of his role by parents. The school now became a prominent success ‘almost overnight’ and was publicised nationwide. The key to this phase of school improvement was the collective involvement of staff in the change process. Through a system of staff committees, they set demanding but achievable targets for themselves and the school, covering student academic performance but also other issues such as staff absenteeism. Students were involved in a project in which they were invited to comment on the school and its facilities. A third phase of reform also made extensive use of school data to identify pockets of at-risk students who had not benefited from changes so far. The school now faces issues of how to sustain improvement with the departure of the head and a government plan to reorganise schooling in the region.

KLA

Subject Headings

Great Britain
School principals
School and community
School culture
Socially disadvantaged
Leadership