Europe is falling behind Asia in terms of education and skills, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). See item from BBC News 13 March 2006.
The Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) is offering briefings around Australia to parents and public school principals about the Australian Government’s Investing in Our Schools Programme. Each school can make submissions up to a maximum of $150,000 over the life of the program to improve their buildings and classrooms, and to buy books, computers and other capital facilities.
Australian Government Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop has announced the release of the 2004 national literacy and numeracy benchmark results for students in Years 3, 5 and 7. The results were compiled from standardised assessments conducted by State and Territory testing authorities across the country. The results show 93 per cent of Year 3 students met the reading and writing benchmarks and 94 per cent met the numeracy benchmarks. However only 83 per cent of Year 3 Indigenous students met the reading benchmark, 77 per cent met the writing benchmark and 79 per cent met the numeracy benchmark. Only 79 per cent of Year 3 students in very remote areas met the reading benchmark. The Country Areas Programme will provide funding of $117 million over 2005–2008 to help schools and school communities assist geographically isolated students. Fewer boys achieved the reading and writing benchmarks than girls. The Australian Government supports boys’ education through the Boys’ Education Lighthouse Schools (BELS) programme and the Success for Boys initiative. See Ministerial media release 10 March 2006.
Teachers in New South Wales have voted to ban the Year 10 Computing Skills Assessment test, due to be introduced to the State's schools. The Teachers Federation has blamed a shortage of computers in schools, a lack of teacher training, poor technical support and 'dinosaur technology that should be thrown out', according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald 12 March 2006.
New Zealand’s Literacy Leader program is to be adapted for use in elementary and middle schools in the USA. The program helps principals to introduce changes in the teaching of reading, writing and speaking. See media release from Lift Education 13 March 2006.
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority is consulting with staff on a proposal to implement structural change. The proposal, if implemented, would address organisational issues raised in external reviews carried out last year by the State Services Commission. See NZQA media release 8 March 2006.
Britain's controversial Education and Inspections Bill has been passed by the House of Commons only with support from the Conservative Party opposition, after more than 50 government MPs crossed the floor to oppose the legislation. The new law will allow schools more freedom to determine their own admissions policies, however opponents fear that it will introduce de facto selection of students and erode comprehensive schooling. See report in the Education Guardian 15 March 2006.
Dr Tony Gibbons, a member of the Flinders University Institute of International Education, has sharply criticised the content of proposals for reform of the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). He has argued that teachers will be overburdened by an expectation to provide 'different and distinct curricula for each and every student'. He also argues against the accompanying assessment system. See report in the Adelaide Advertiser 14 March 2006 p2.
Almost 30 international education ministers will meet in Australia early next month to share ideas and knowledge and participate in discussions at a forum that is the first of its kind in the world. The Australian Government will host the International Education Forum 2006: Challenge Your Thinking from 3–5 April at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The aim is to challenge conventional thinking about education and stimulate debate on the strategic direction of education across the globe over the next 10–20 years.
The Victorian Government is to create the State’s first government sports school, in cooperation with the Victorian Institute of Sport, Victoria University and the Western Bulldogs football team. See Ministerial media release 8 March 2006.
The VicSmart initiative aims to upgrade every Victorian government school, to the same standard, removing the digital divide between country and city schools. By the end of 2006, every school is to be be upgraded with at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband technology. By the end of the VicSmart initiative, every school will have access to 4 Mbps fibre optic broadband. See Ministerial media release 15 February 2006.
Challenges and Choices: Early childhood kit for resilience, drug and road safety education, is a new initiative of the Western Australian Government aimed at K–3 students. A drug component of the kit relates to hazardous substances to which young children are exposed. The key focus areas include: medicines and hazardous substances; tobacco and passive smoking; caffeine; and promoting resilience. The road safety component focuses on issues such as traffic awareness and passenger safety. See Ministerial media release by Western Australian Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich, 15 March 2006.
While the Australian Government allocated $225 million last year 'for programs such as literacy and numeracy' only $83 million was spent, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald 17 March 2006.