New South Wales Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt has announced that schools will have a choice about how to describe student achievement in the new system of report cards. Following consultations with principals and parents groups, schools will be allowed to decide whether to use A to E to to describe student performance, or word descriptors ranging from ‘outstanding’ to ‘limited’. However, schools that choose to grade students using word descriptors instead of A to E must explain on each report that the words equate to the A to E scale. See Departmental announcement, 26 September 2006. The New South Wales Teachers Federation, which has been vehemently opposed to a mandatory A to E grading system, said it was too late in the year to properly implement the new reports for 2006. The federation's president, Maree O'Halloran, said the changes did not go far enough. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2006.
Teachers, parents, principals, support staff, academics and other key stakeholders in education are invited to attend the 2006 National Conference of the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), 26–27 October 2006 in Melbourne. Topics for discussion include curriculum issues, the Arts, physical design of schools, technology, financing, teacher training, teaching methods, student wellbeing and parent–school partnerships.
In Chile thousands of teachers and supporters have taken part in a march to demand higher wages for educators. In May and June this year Chilean high school students demanding more education funding clashed with police and smashed store windows in the capital, Santiago. See report from the Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 27 September 2006.
Deteriorating student behaviour has become a health and safety issue for many teachers, and is one of the major deterrents to recruiting and retaining quality teaching staff according to Debbie Te Whaiti, the President of New Zealand's Post-Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA). See PPTA media release, 26 September 2006.
The Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), in assoication with DEST, has launched an online survey to find out public views on languages education in schools, and in young people’s learning and development. Parents in government and non-government schools, students, language teachers, principals, curriculum officers and tertiary educators are invited to complete the questionnaire.
Christopher Robinson, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Employment and Training in Queensland, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive for the Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia. See Ministerial media release, 22 September 2006.
A free writing guide has been created to assist Victorian teachers to use the State's new student report cards. The new student report card is designed to be easily understood by parents, describing what students have achieved against the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) and explaining where they need improvement.
The Victorian Government's new youth policy, Future Directions, outlines the range of initiatives underway for 12–25-year-olds. The initiatives aim to increase young people's contribution to the community, support transition from school to employment, inform youth about how to access information and support services, and help young people lead active, safe and culturally diverse lives.
An article in The Australian (11 September 2006) describes moves by a workplace training provider to hold maths and sciences classes for first-year apprentices to address knowledge gaps of Years 10 and 11 school leavers. The Peer Tec company has found that the students' high school education is often not relevant to the trades, and that students are unable to work with mathematical formulas.
Figures from the Department of Education and Training Western Australia show that suspensions are successfully deterring students from repeated misbehaviour. In 2005, 66 per cent of students were suspended only once, with the average suspension decreasing to 2.26 days from 2.34 days in 2004. Boys represented 81.5 per cent of suspensions and recommended exclusions, while 26 exclusions were approved in total. See Departmental media release, 12 September 2006.
In a bid to help overcome the lack of scientists and science teachers, especially in inland Australia, Charles Sturt University (CSU) will offer 'lucrative targeted scholarships to encourage high-quality on-campus applicants to science-based fields'. See media release, 21 September 2006.
New guidelines from the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) allow teachers to have physical contact with children when providing support or encouraging learning. The previous 'no contact' code has been relaxed to allow staff to make contact after an accident, during toilet trips and in moving children, and to give hugs for emotional support and to congratulate children with a pat on the back. See article in The Press (stuff.co.nz), 27 September 2006.
A syllabus covering hydrogen and fuel cell technology is being developed for Australian primary and secondary schools as a move towards national consistency in this area of teaching. The syllabus is being developed as an Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) project. Cluster participants will report on activities at a free forum on 17 October 2006 at the Melbourne Town Hall. Guest speaker, David Lamb from the CSIRO, will deliver a presentation covering recent developments across the transport technology industry.
New South Wales Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, has announced that over the coming three months the State Government will be rolling out a $27.3 million school maintenance and capital works program. Building and maintenance projects will commence during the spring holidays and Term Four. See also article in The Age, 29 September 2006 on school maintenance in Victoria.
In South Australia, the reading abilities of years 1 and 2 students in State schools will be assessed in November as part of the State Government’s $35 million program to improve children’s literacy. Education Minister, Jane Lomax-Smith, has said that the Running Records assessment will be used to identify students who may be experiencing reading difficulties. The assessment was trialled in June 2005 with 2,100 Year 1 students from 73 State schools, with a follow-up assessment in November. During this period the number of children who reached an acceptable Year 1 reading level doubled. See Ministerial media statement, 28 September 2006.
New South Wales Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, has announced legislative amendments to the State's Education Act 1990 to prevent for-profit schools from receiving State Government funding. See Departmental media statement, 27 September 2006.
A review of the Victorian Institute of Teaching has been announced by the Victorian Government. The review is likely to consider the institute's fee structures and operating costs, as well as the purpose and operation of similar bodies in other States and Territories. Teachers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to make submissions. See article in The Age, 3 October 2006.
Alternative approaches to education, such as the Steiner and Montessori programs, will be allowed for the first time in Victorian public schools. There are at least six Steiner programs in State schools, including
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper has launched a campaign, 'Hold on to Childhood', in support of a call by 110 academics, writers and medical experts for a close examination of the quality of children's lives. The experts claim that children have been 'tainted by over-exposure to electronic entertainment, lack of play space and the emphasis on academic testing in schools'. See article, 13 September 2006.
Australian Government Education Minister Julie Bishop has proposed the creation of a national school curriculum administered by a national board of studies. See various commentaries in the Schools section of The Australian; editorial in The Canberra Times, 9 October 2006; report in The Age, 6 October 2006; 'School wars' in the Courier Mail, 7 October 2006, p 50; commentary, 11 October 2006 and further commentary, 11 October 2006 in The Age. In moves prior to the Ms Bishop's announcement, the president of the Secondary Schools Principals Association Andrew Blair has welcomed the introduction of National Statements of Learning from 2008. The statements set out key knowledge and skills to be taught to all students. Mr Blair has also welcomed progress towards a nationally consistent Year 12 certificate. See article in The Australian, 25 September 2006.
Curriculum Corporation invites you to hear John Joseph at our forthcoming professional development conference, Learning and Teaching with the Brain in Mind, featuring keynote speakers John Joseph, Lisa Hayman and Robyn English. The conference will be held on Friday, 27 October 2006 at Sandown Racecourse, Sandown Victoria.