In England the US-based Accelerated Reading program is to be introduced to all 2,500 specialist secondary schools and academies to encourage children to learn to read. The program uses multiple-choice quizzes. Last year research found that one-fifth of 11-year-olds in England could not read properly. See report in The Times 22 February 2006.
New South Wales Board of Studies President Gordon Stanley has defended the State’s revised syllabus for studies of religion against allegations that militant Islam has invaded the curriculum. See article in The Australian 25 February 2006.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has published new data tracking the continued rise of enrolments in non-government schools relative to government schools. See report in the The Australian 24 February 2006 and article in The Age 24 February 2006.
In Britain the Education and Inspections Bill continues to generate controversy amid claims that the government’s plans to set up independent ‘trust’ schools will create a two-tier education system. Another point of debate is over the Education Secretary’s power to veto moves by local authorities to build new comprehensive schools, which, critics claim, clashes with the government’s call for more choice in schooling. See Labour MPs consider schools bill, BBC News 1 March 2006, and other education reports from the BBC News. See also details of Britain’s education White Paper, and two reports critical of the proposed changes in the New Publications section of Curriculum Leadership this week.
In Victoria, the SEAL program, which offers select-entry accelerated learning to gifted students, is to be extended to seven more public secondary schools. SEAL is currently offered at 27 government schools in the State. Victorian Education Minister Lynne Kosky has said that SEAL provides diversity within the government schools system. However, Mary Bluett, State president of the Australian Education Union has called for a cap to be placed on the SEAL program. She warns that the program could lead to some schools losing bright students, and argues that best educational outcomes are obtained by having a mix of students. See report in The Age 27 February 2006, and 'Hidden talents' in The Age: Education 27 February 2006.
The Teachers Federation has been ordered to hold talks with the New South Wales Government over the union's bans on the new report-card system that will grade primary school students. See report in The Australian 1 March 2006.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education is preparing a planning kit to assist schools and early childhood education services to develop response plans to the threatened flu epidemic. See report in The New Zealand Education Gazette 20 February 2006.
Board View is a new means of communication for New Zealand school boards. The column is to be published once a month as part of the New Zealand Education Gazette, initially on a trial basis. It will feature a range of information relevant to school governance, leadership and management. The New Zealand School Trustees' Association has been involved in planning the column, and will regularly contribute articles. See report in the New Zealand Education Gazette 20 February 2006.
In the USA, a group of scientists have concluded that about 1.6 million teenagers and young adults had misused these stimulants during a 12-month period and that 75,000 showed signs of addiction. Their study has been published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It draws on data from a 2002 national survey of about 67,000 households. See article in the Washington Post 25 February 2006.
China plans to increase education spending to four per cent of GDP, from 2.79 per cent, emphasising that a well-educated population was ‘strategically important’ to modernisation. The government also plans to complete the task of providing free nine-year compulsory education to all students in China in five years, according to Education Minister Zhou Ji. See report in Yahoo! News 28 February 2006.
The New South Wales Government has moved to reassure parents after the discovery of asbestos in 158 schoolyards around the State. See report in Sydney Morning Herald 3 March 2006.