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

The People's Republic of China is developing a network of Confucius Institutes worldwide as part of China's growing international engagement. The Institutes offer services such as Chinese language teaching and assistance with cultural exchanges and trade. The first Confucius Institute in Australia was set up at The University of Western Australia in May last year. The University of Melbourne and Asialink have announced that the Australian Confucius Institute @ Melbourne will be established later this year. See also 'China's latest export: language', New York Times 11 January 2006 (iht.com).

$25.7 million for schools in New South Wales

The New South Wales Government has announced that $25.7 million will be spent on facilities in 300 schools across the State. The funding will support 339 capital works projects, which range from toilet and electrical upgrades to building outdoor covered areas. See ministerial media release, 12 December 2005.

Career education elective for teacher training

Victoria University has developed a three module Career Education Elective funded by the Department of Education, Science and Training. Designed for integration in existing teacher training courses, it aims to provide all secondary teachers with the knowledge necessary to assist students with career decisions. Content includes assisting students with personal management and interactions, engaging the disengaged, connecting learning and work, career development theory, the work–life balance and career decision making.

New Australian Government Education Minister

The Hon Julie Bishop MP has become the new Australian Government Minister for Education, Science and Training. Ms Bishop, formerly Minister for Ageing, will also be Minister for Women's Issues. She replaces Brendan Nelson who moves to the Defence portfolio. Ms Bishop, who entered the Australian Parliament in 1998, is also on the board of the Anglican Schools Commission. She worked as a barrister and solicitor from 1979 to 1998 and was Managing Partner, Clayton Utz, in Western Australia from 1994 to 1998. A profile of Ms Bishop in the Australian Financial Review quotes her as calling herself an 'economic Dry and social Liberal' and describes her as less likely than her predecessor to move into confontation with State governments over educational issues. She has strongly endorsed Prime Minister John Howard's recent call for an overhaul of the teaching of Australian history in schools. She has also endorsed Brendan Nelson's call for an Australia-wide graduation certificate for Year 12 students. See the personal profile provided by the Department of Education, Science and Training, the report in The Australian 25 January 2006, and the feature 'No glass ceiling over Bishop', Australian Financial Review 27 January 2006, p17 (purchase full text from publisher).

Career Change Program in Victoria encourages switch to teaching

The Victorian Government's Career Change Program encourages skilled professionals and tradespeople to retrain as teachers. The participants, with existing tertiary or trade qualifications, undertake an intensive summer school course at Victoria University and a further two years of part-time study for a teacher qualification combined with supervised classroom experience. The program provides a basic starting salary and allowance to help with study costs, one day a week paid study leave and induction and mentoring at school level. Education Services Minister, Jacinta Allan, has said the participants will help meet a demand for teachers in the hard-to-staff areas such as technology, science, languages and maths/science. See Ministerial media release 9 January 2006.

Queensland College of Teachers

The Queensland College of Teachers was established on January 1 this year and replaces the former Board of Teacher Registration. Griffith University Professor John Dewar has been appointed Chair of the College. The College will determine policies for regulating the teaching profession in Queensland, and will manage reforms to the teacher registration system. From this year, the post-graduate education qualification will be reduced from two years to one year to attract a wide range of people with valuable skills and qualifications to teaching. See Media statement by Education and Training Minister, Rod Welford, 25 January 2006.

A range of initiatives introduced in Queensland

A number of initiatives are to be introduced across Queensland schools in 2006. The State Government is investing a record $455.1 million in school infrastructure this year. Students entering Year 10 will be the first to be subject to Queensland's new senior schooling laws, which require all young people to be 'learning or earning' until they are 17. The prep year will be extended to more schools, so that a total of 121 State, Catholic and independent schools will offer the prep year this year in the lead-up to the statewide roll-out in 2007. A new code of school behaviour will be introduced into Queensland State schools as part of the Government's $3 million Better Behaviour, Better Learning package. This year also sees the implementation of the Healthy Food and Drink Strategy for Queensland schools. The Government's Smart Classrooms Strategy will also continue to roll out in 2006. Key initiatives include providing 1,500 teachers with laptop computers in a trial to improve teaching through new technologies, and a pilot of an Internet portal to give students, teachers and parents 24-hour access to important school information. See Ministerial media statement 19 January 2006.

New student report cards in SA

The South Australian Government is introducing new 'plain-language' student reports for Government schools' students. The reports combine 'easier to understand descriptions with the best elements of current school reports and the Federal Government's requirements for A–E grades'. The reports will not include class-based quartile rankings, which were originally envisaged as a condition for receiving further education funding from the Australian Government. Education Minister, Jane Lomax-Smith, has said that State schools 'should only provide information that shows the number of students in each of the A–E achievement levels at the request of parents'. The new reports will cover Years 1–10. Current reporting methods will continue for students in Reception (Prep) and Years 11 and 12. See Ministerial media release 30 January 2006.

SA early years students' reading skills assessed

The use of the Running Records assessment tool in South Australia is being extended this year. Running Records allows teachers to collect data about the reading abilities of Years 1 and 2 students and use it to plan their classroom programs and intervention strategies. It was trialled with more than 2,000 Year 1 children in 75 schools state-wide in 2005 and will now be expanded across all schools. It is part of the South Australian Government's Early Years Literacy Program to improve children's reading, writing, spelling and communication skills in preschool to Year 3. See Ministerial media statement 27 January 2006.

Incentives program to teach in SA country schools extended

The South Australian Government is increasing cash incentives for teachers to take up positions in some difficult-to-staff country areas. The Government introduced country incentives payments in 2002 for teachers in the first five years of their appointment in more than 300 South Australian schools and preschools. See Ministerial media statement 18 January 2006.

Acting Chief Executive appointed in SA Education Department

Jan Andrews has been appointed to act as Chief Executive for South Australia's Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS). Ms Andrews has been the Deputy Commissioner for Public Employment in South Australia for the past seven years. She has been assigned to the role following the departure of former Chief Executive, Steve Marshall. See Ministerial media release 6 January 2006.

Two SA primary schools to offer IB

Two metropolitan primary schools in South Australia are to offer the International Baccalaureate program for students from Reception (Prep) to Year 5. Both schools already offer the Middle Years Program for older students. Across the State, 23 public and private schools are authorised IB world schools and 26 operate in partnership with authorised schools. See Ministerial media release 5 January 2006.

New electronic records for SA student data

The South Australian Government is expanding its student tracking system this year. It will record information such as subject grades and classroom progress, literacy and numeracy test results and school attendance. The system is expected to prepare the ground for future longitudinal studies of student performance. See Ministerial media statement 2 January 2006.

Education spending unprecedented in Tasmania

Tasmanian Government Education Minister, Paula Wriedt, has announced that education spending in the State had been boosted 'to unprecedented levels'. 'Educating Tasmanians represents a $943 million commitment in the current financial year. We've put a massive $227 million more into education since 1998.' Ms Wriedt has also noted improvements in Tasmania's 2003 literacy and numeracy benchmark results for Years 3 and 5. See Ministerial media release 30 January 2006 and earlier statement of 25 January 2006.

WA school performance data published online

Western Australia's Education and Training Minister, Ljiljanna Ravlich, has released data on the performance of all Year 12 students in five categories using information from the Curriculum Council of Western Australia. See explanation provided by the Curriculum Council and Ministerial media statement 5 January 2006. The 'league table' statistics are accessible on the Council's website to those enrolled in any Western Australian TEE or Year 12 subjects in 2005.

Revisions to physical education guidelines in New Zealand

The New Zealand Government has revised physical education guidelines for schools, aiming to increase the quality and regularity of both curriculum physical education and co-curricular physical activity. See media release 31 January 2006 from Physical Education New Zealand (PENZ).

More support for Asian studies urged in NZ

There needs to be more professional support for secondary school teachers wanting to teach Asian studies, according to a recent report commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Studies of Asia in New Zealand secondary schools, carried out by Educating NZ, identifies reasons for the inclusion or exclusion of Asian studies in secondary classroom programs and suggests ways to promote the study area. See media release from the Asia New Zealand Foundation, 27 January 2006.

Prime Minister calls for revisions in Australian history teaching

Prime Minister John Howard has argued that the teaching of Australian history is being neglected in schools and is dominated by criticisms or rejection of national achievements. 'Too often, it is taught without any sense of structured narrative, replaced by a fragmented stew of "themes" and "issues"… And too often, history, along with other subjects in the humanities, has succumbed to a postmodern culture of relativism' (quoted in report in The Age 26 January 2006). Academic Dr Inga Clendinnen, recently awarded an Order of Australia for her work in Australian history, has challenged the Prime Minister's comments, arguing that themes and issues in history are deeply intertwined with narrative. She has also said that the narrative of Australian history properly includes 'the eight-hour day, the labour movement, women's suffrage, egalitarianism, and radical nationalism', all valued by the Prime Minister's opponents. See 'PM accused of narrow view of history', Australian Financial Review 27 January 2006 p13 (purchase article from publisher). See also commentary in The Age 27 January 2006 on History in the Victorian and New South Wales curricula, and 'History debate rages over narrative', The Australian 27 January 2006.