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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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New English syllabus in Western Australia

The new Year 11 English course in Western Australia has strong support in schools, according to a survey of 267 English teachers who attended recent Curriculum Council assessment seminars. The Curriculum Council acting chief executive officer, David Axworthy, said the positive feedback was part of the two year rolling evaluation of the English course. Mr Axworthy said the resulting report revealed that around 90 per cent of English teachers were confident in teaching outcomes. See Curriculum Council media release 23 March 2006. See also article in The Australian March 20 2006, in which a range of concerns about the new syllabus are expressed.

Trend away from private schools in New South Wales

In New South Wales, there is a trend in enrolments from private schools back to the government sector, according to results of a survey of school principals conducted by the Teachers’ Federation. Principals of 138 high schools and 23 central schools replied to the Federation’s survey. Reasons cited for the change include cost of private schools, perceptions that public schools can offer a broader curriculum, better academic results and teacher quality, and concerns over both bullying and the heavy focus on religion at many non-government schools. See Teachers’ Federation media release 19 March 2006.

Confrontation over patriotism in Japan

Tokyo's education authorities have ordered head teachers to make sure students stand to attention and sing when the national anthem is played. The move follows a rash of protests by students and teachers since Japan made standing for the anthem compulsory in 1999. Hundreds of teachers have been sacked or suffered pay cuts or other sanctions for refusing to follow the policy. See report in the New Zealand Herald 17 March 2006 and earlier article in The Independent 8 March 2006 (purchase full text from publisher).

Western Australia announces review of literacy and numeracy teaching

Western Austalia’s Education and Training Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich has announced a review of literacy and numeracy teaching in the State. The review taskforce will be led by Professor Bill Louden of the University of Western Australia’s Faculty of Education. It will examine ways to improve the skills of students who are struggling with basic literacy and numeracy tasks. See Ministerial media release 9 March 2006. 

New Zealand Government to step up action against bullying

A report from New Zealand’s Ministry of Education has just been released, covering the nature and extent of bullying in schools. The report also examines bullying in forms such as text messaging. Education Minister Steve Maharey has said that establishing clear boundaries for behaviour in schools will be a key priority over the next three years. From next month the Education Review Office will be reporting in each school review on the school's anti-bullying strategies. See Ministerial media release 16 March 2006.

Bulk funding 'failing school support staff' in New Zealand

Bulk funding for 27,000 support staff employed in New Zealand’s schools is inadequate, according to the country’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa. See NZEI media release in Scoop 22 March 2006.

Florida to link teacher pay to students' test scores

A new pay-for-performance program for Florida's teachers will tie raises and bonuses directly to pupils' standardised-test scores beginning next year, marking the first time a state in the USA has so closely linked the wages of individual school personnel to their students' exam results. See report in the Washington Post 21 March 2006.

Girl in UK loses legal bid to wear full Islamic dress in school

In England the family of a Muslim girl has lost a three-year legal battle to allow her to wear full Islamic dress in class. The House of Lords upheld the headteacher's right to exclude pupils who refuse to comply with school uniform policy on religious grounds, overturning an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal. See report in The Independent 23 March 2006.

Preschool plan for all four-year-olds

The Australian Government has proposed that all four-year-olds be required to attend a pre-school, or an accredited childcare centre with a trained early childhood teacher on the staff. The proposal will be put to the June meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. See report in The Australian 23 March 2006.

Curriculum Corporation 13th National Conference

Registrations are now open for Curriculum Corporation’s 13th annual conference, A vision splendid, ICT: research, pedagogy, implementation for schools. The conference is being held at the Hilton Adelaide in Adelaide on 14 and 15 August 2006. The vision to transform school education through the use of ICT has been in existence for more than two decades. Leading researchers, policy makers and practitioners will explore recent trends and vital factors that will make this vision a reality. The conference offers the opportunity to reflect on innovative approaches to ICT integration, together with controversial and thoughtful research in this field. The thematic strands that will be the focus of the conference include: the use of ICT to provide a personalised learning advantage to accommodate student diversity; professional development opportunities and resources to support learning; and effective ICT integration into teaching practice and curriculum delivery. Joining a line of international and national keynote speakers is Professor James Paul Gee, who is the Tashia Morgridge Professor of Reading at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a prominent author on the New Literacies. Professor Gee’s approach of studying communication in its cultural setting has been widely influential over the past two decades. His book Sociolinguistics and Literacies (1990) is a founding text in the formation of the New Literacies studies, the interdisciplinary field studying language, learning and literacy in an integrated way in the full range of their cognitive, social and cultural contexts. His latest research and books, including the seminal work What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (2003), explore the role of video games in language and learning, including how games produce better learning conditions and can assist in the thinking about the reform of schools. Professor Gee has a PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University. Joining Professor James Paul Gee will be Jeremy Roschelle, Director Centre for Technology in Learning, SRI International, USA; Jillian Dellit, Director, The Le@rning Federation Secretariat, SA; Professor Peter Freebody, Faculty of Education, University of Queensland, Qld; and Professor John Hedberg, Australian Centre for Educational Studies, Macquarie University, NSW.

School system 'failing the poor'

Parental income is a bigger factor in a child's academic achievement than the school the child attends, according to former OECD education director Barry McGaw. In a recent interview he has highlighted findings that the reading ability of the nation's poorest students lags behind the richest students by three years by the age of 15. He argues that the difference was not caused by lower-income parents valuing education less. Rather, they have fewer resources or skills with which to support their child's education. Professor McGaw left the OECD to become director of the new Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, which was announced last week. See article in The Australian 23 March 2006.

Catholic schools 'enforce religion' in Western Australia

Catholic students in Western Australia will be required to study religion at senior secondary level, in preference to other subjects. Director of Catholic Education in Western Australia Ron Dullard has said under the State's new Outcomes Based Education system, the Curriculum Council was creating a religion syllabus, which would be offered as a tertiary entrance examination subject as well as a non-TEE subject. Although religion is already compulsory in Catholic schools, it is studied in addition to a combination of six TEE and non-TEE subjects a student may choose. From 2008, students will have to study religion as one of their six subjects, forcing them to forgo a more traditional academic course. See report in The Australian 23 March 2006.