Summaries of presentations are now available online from the Research Highlights Conference held in Melbourne last November. The conference was organised by the Office of Learning and Teaching, Department of Education and Training Victoria. It was based around the theme 'Research: Informing policy; supporting practice' and attracted interest from policy makers and practitioners.
In response to rising demand, independent schools are increasingly giving preference on their secondary school waiting lists to children already in their own primary school catchments, and are moving to a P &ndash 12 model. The trend is inducing many parents to enrol children in independent primary schools, challenging a traditional pattern of enrolling children in government primaries before moving them to non-government secondary schools. The trend may also be encouraged by growing interest in middle years' education. See 'Private schools' primary goal', Australian Financial Review 13 February 2006 p 60 (purchase article from publisher)
Schools will be forced to keep junk food out of tuck shops under an action plan endorsed by the Council of Australian Government (COAG) at its February meeting. The plan is aimed at combating obesity and weight-related diseases. The ban on junk food in school canteens is to be enforced by the States. The Queensland Government has committed $94 million towards the package. See also the report in The Australian 10 February 2006.
The Victorian Government’s new Education Training and Reform Bill is to consolidate the State's legislation for education and training provision into one Act of parliament. The new Bill requires all education and training providers in Victoria to deliver a curriculum consistent with a range of democratic principles including the rule of law, equal rights before the law, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and association, and the values of openness and tolerance. It raises the compulsory minimum school leaving age from 15 to 16. It guarantees every Victorian under 20 years of age free instruction up to the completion of Year 12 at a government school, or a place to study an equivalent qualification at a TAFE institute. The Bill makes it clear that voluntary school contributions must be obtained without coercion or harassment. A new regulatory authority will be created to register and assure the quality of all schools, training and higher education providers. Corporal punishment will be banned in all Victorian schools. Parents and students will have the legal right to require schools to provide information to their community through an annual reporting process. See Ministerial media statement 9 February 2006.
The VCE Data Service (VCEDS) provides Victorian schools with confidential information on the performance of their VCE students. It is an online service that enables schools to analyse students' VCE results. Users can assess trends in students' achievement school data back to 1998. VCEDS now includes 2005 VCE results. See Memorandum to Schools 7/2006, Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2 February 2006.
All State and Territory education systems and the non-government schools sector have agreed to implement the Interstate Student Data Transfer Note (ISDTN) from 1 January 2006. All schools will now be able to use a nationally agreed system for transferring student information when enrolling interstate students. See media statement by Australian Government Education Minister Julie Bishop, 15 February 2006.
This month's meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has set out plans for educational reform as part of its wider National Reform Agenda. COAG has asked the council of Australian education ministers, MCEETYA, to report back to it by June on plans for improved national coordination around programs for transition from school to work and improvements in early childhood education. The COAG meeting also expressed its committment to raising literacy and numeracy levels of young people. See also commentary in The Age 14 February 2006.
A research project has investigated the extent to which Aborigines in Western Australia's Pilbara region have participated in the area's mining boom. The study, led by Australian National University researcher John Taylor, found that 90 per cent of the region's working age Indigenous population had no post-school qualification, and that only 68 per cent had completed Year 10. Completion of Year 12 is normally a requirement for an apprenticeship in the region's mining industry. See also 'Pilbara study damns state of Aboriginals' in the West Australian 11 February 2006 p 43.
Opinions and community feedback have been sought on the issue of introducing a mandatory school uniform policy across Australian Capital Territory government schools, particularly in high schools. Minister for Education and Training Katy Gallagher has written to school boards to ask for their feedback and to encourage community discussion about the issue. See Ministerial media release 15 February 2006.
Queensland's Sunday Mail newspaper has attacked the literacy levels of children in the State. As part of a special feature on 12 February 2006, the newspaper gave a spelling test to 'a typical class of students' aged 11 and 12, and reported that 65 per cent of the children misspelled more than half the words.