The inaugural National Safe Schools Week will be held from Monday 15 to Sunday 21 May 2006. Activities will include forums in which students can workshop ideas about how safe school environments free from bullying and other conflict can be created and sustained, electronic media projects, and practical information sessions focusing on conflict resolution processes. Key dates include Wednesday 17 May, when a national student activity will be staged to provide all schools and students with the opportunity to participate in the NSSW, and Thursday 18 May and Friday 19 May, when a national teacher education event will be held in Melbourne.
A parents group in New South Wales has protested at a proposal from the State Opposition to introduce military cadet training in public high schools. Opposition Leader Peter Debnam had called for a voluntary, military-style cadet scheme to be expanded into more than 50 public high schools to instil a sense of respect and discipline. There are 8,800 youths in New South Wales involved in the Australian Government funded cadet scheme, which has been adopted mainly by private schools for the past 100 years. See report in The Australian, 25 April 2006.
Sugary soft drinks will be banned from Victorian public schools in an effort to fight child obesity. About 1,600 schools will ban soft drinks, with plans for lollies and fatty foods forshadowed. See Ministerial media release, 21 April 2006 and article in The Australian, 23 April 2006. The New South Wales government may not follow Victoria in completely banning fizzy drinks from school canteens, which already use a healthy food scheme that limits students' consumption of fatty, sugary or salty food, and beverages such as soft drinks. See follow-up report in The Australian, 24 April 2006.
An A–E grading system for students will be introduced into all Queensland schools next year. The report card will also record teacher comments, as well as extra-curricular activities and the number of days a student is absent. The new grading system will apply to students for all subjects in Years 4–10. Year 11 and 12 students are already assessed on a five-tier rating system as part of the Overall Position (OP process). The new grading system will be introduced in state schools at the end of 2006, and apply in all schools in 2007. See media release by Education Minister Rod Welford, 26 April 2006.
A comprehensive new website has been launched to act as an information gateway about education issues in Western Australia. The new EducateWA website links to State-based, national and international sites. It was developed by the Curriculum Council in collaboration with the Department of Education and Training, the Catholic Education Office and the Association of Independent schools.
The Australian Children's Television Foundation is urging the Australian Government to incorporate a new children's channel into its strategy to drive consumer conversion to digital TV. The Foundation says it has become harder for children to find programs made for them at suitable times on the main channels. See report in The Australian, 27 April 2006.
A Macquarie University study has investigated reasons for the decline in take up of science and technology courses at tertiary level. The study found that secondary students found science too difficult and that little was known about career options in science. It identified a need for more training in science and technology among preservice and in-service teachers. Macquarie University is seeking to raise the issue nationally. See 'Group to tackle science enrolments' in The Australian, 26 April 2006 p 24.
Confidential figures obtained by The West Australian show a 47 per cent attendance rate at Halls Creek high school in 2005, compared with a State average of more than 90 per cent. The attendance rate has decreased from 70 per cent in 2003 and 63 per cent in 2004. State literacy and numeracy tests position 92 per cent of the school’s Year 7 students in the lowest 25 per cent for reading and writing. None of the school’s Year 9 students achieved State targets in numeracy, reading or science tests, while 29 per cent achieved writing targets. See article by Jessica Strutt in the Kimberley Times, 27 April 2004.
The Australian Government's plans for the introduction of 24 technical colleges have been held back by a series of difficulties, described as a crisis by The Australian newspaper. It reports that three of the colleges could be abandoned after bidders failed to satisfy tender requirements, and another three colleges are behind schedule. See article 25 April 2006.