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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Concern over new copyright proposals

The Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee (AVCC) has told the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee that proposed changes to Australian copyright law 'dramatically curtail' the right of students and educators to copy information for research or study. See AVCC submission. The changes would limit copying to 10 per cent of a publication, rather than either one chapter or 10 per cent as at present, and would also hinder efforts by Google and an alliance of US universities to make more good quality academic material available on the web. See also 'Copyright changes could leave unis vulnerable', Campus Review, 15 November 2006, p 4.

Success for Boys grants announced

The Australian Government Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, has announced that 800 schools and clusters of schools nationally will receive grants under the second round of the Australian Government’s $19.4 million Success for Boys program. Each school will receive between $10,000 and $80,000 to help them improve the way they work with boys. The program aims to support boys at risk of disengaging from school, and improve boys’ learning outcomes and engagement in school. Teachers will be provided with high-quality professional learning based on national and international research. Key areas to be addressed by schools are: providing boys with opportunities to benefit from positive male role models and mentors; improving literacy teaching; using ICT to engage boys in learning; and improving Indigenous boys’ educational achievement and engagement with school. See Ministerial media release, 22 November 2006.

Call to promote apprenticeships to primary schoolers

To help overcome Australia's skill shortage, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Science and Training, Pat Farmer is calling for trade skills to be taught at primary school. Mr Farmer suggested that teaching about the trades in high school is 'too late' as Year 9 and 10 students have already formed attitudes about careers. He has called for industry leaders to be brought into primary schools to explain the advantages of taking up a skilled trade. He has also noted current action by his department to introduce simple skills-based activities into primary schools, such as 'getting children to lay superlightweight building blocks'. (See 'Get 'em while they're young to fix skills shortage', Australian Financial Review, 22 November 2006, p 9.)

New SA Certificate of Education announced

South Australia’s Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has announced details of reforms to the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). The new certificate will include compulsory subjects, a broader range of choices for students and agreed performance standards that students will need to achieve to gain the certificate. There will be a strong focus on building students’ literacy and numeracy skills through diagnostic testing in Year 9 and compulsory English and mathematics courses. Reforms to the SACE include a new points-based system that gives students credits for learning through school subjects, TAFE, community service and work experience, and a credit bank that allows students the flexibility to store credits and return to the SACE after interrupted study. Compulsory literacy and numeracy tests at Year 9 will be used to alert teachers to problems before students begin their SACE. A compulsory subject at Year 10 called the Personal Learning Plan will require every student to plan their final two years of school and beyond, with a focus on life, career and personal skills. A compulsory Major Project of extended studies at Year 12 will require every student to study intensively a topic of personal interest. A–E grades will be used to report student results at Years 11 and 12. While the new certificate will be based around distinct subjects, it is designed to equip students with five essential skills for life and employability: communication, critical thinking, personal and social development, processing information and applying knowledge. All Year 12 subjects will be 30 per cent externally assessed through a range of approaches, including examinations, practical performances and presentations. The new approach will be backed with ‘school to work’ grants to support programs that address skills shortages. The State Government is also establishing ten Trade Schools for the Future, where students can mix their school studies with intensive skills courses. Legislative measures to support the new SACE will be outlined in a paper, to be released for public discussion before legislation is introduced into State Parliament in 2007. See Ministerial media release, 22 November 2006.

Early childhood lecturer calls for two years' preschool education

Frances Press, lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Charles Sturt University, has argued that two years of quality preschool education is being adopted widely in Europe, and 'can almost halve the number of children at risk of failing later on at school', according to a report in The Australian, 24 November 2006. The report argues that childcare policy in Australia is too fragmented, and faces problems of carer supply and quality.

Maths wars continue in USA

A controversy over the primary maths curriculum in Utah reflects ongoing divisions over the course that should be taken in mathematics education. The focus of the current dispute is an inquiry-based unit called Investigations, which is accused by critics of downplaying instruction in basic arithmetical facts and leaving children ill-equipped for later years. See report in The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 November 2006.

Second selective school established in Western Australia

Western Australia’s John Curtin College of the Arts will be transformed into a selective school of the arts from Year 8 in 2008. It will provide a specialist program with coverage including dance, drama, musical theatre, music and arts media. Students will have links with universities and professional artists. The school will fit within the Department of Education and Training’s existing Gifted and Talented Education program. Until now Perth Modern School has been the only selective public school in the State. See Ministerial media statement by Ljiljanna Ravlich, 22 November 2006.