Japan's parliament has amended the country's education law to instill patriotism in schools. The revision to the basic education law drew criticism that it will 'force students and teachers to foster a narrow form of nationalism', according to a report in the Japan Times 16 December 2006.
Increasing numbers of infants in the USA are being taught foreign languages through special programs, while they are still acquiring English. The programs offer courses in Spanish, French, Italian and Chinese. See report in USA Today 10 January 2007.
Professor David Williamson Shaffer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has called for schools to use video games to prepare children for their future working lives. Shaffer and his team have developed a range of games that 'help students learn to think like engineers, urban planners, journalists, architects and other professionals', according to an article on CNet News 11 January 2007.
The percentage of males in teaching has hit a 40-year low in the USA, according to the country's National Education Association. Less than one in four teachers in US public schools are male, and the vast majority of them teach in middle schools and high schools. See article in the St Petersburg Times 12 January 2007.
In its annual report on global competitiveness, the World Economic Forum has ranked Australia 29th for the quality of its maths and science teaching and 12th for the quality of its educational system. See article in The Australian 16 January 2007.
Around the world, performance-based pay schemes for teachers have failed to improve teaching and may encourage favouritism, according to Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International, a union body representing teachers in 169 countries. See article in The Age 17 January 2007.
A report prepared for the British Government by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that ‘business leaders with no classroom experience could run schools’ according to an article in The Times 19 January 2007. The report also suggests that schools consider more distributed forms of leadership, possibly involving staff from other agencies, such as health and social care services. Schools could also be clustered into groups, with heads rotated from school to school. It also recommends increasing the pay differential between heads and other staff, and allowing heads to take time off during term time.
In the Northern Territory, a major report on Indigenous education and training was launched last December by Education Minister Paul Henderson. The report, prepared by the School for Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University, draws on ideas discussed at this year’s Garma Festival forum in August 2006. See media release from Charles Darwin University, 11 December 2006.
In New Zealand, a Ministry of Education review of schools' operational funding has found that schools are managing their finances well. The year-long review examined how schools manage competing demands on their operational funding, given changes in education funding over the last decade. The review identified pressure areas for schools, including changing expectations on schools, specific cost pressures such as ICT and support staff, and some gaps in the financial and strategic expertise of school managers and trustees. It recommended further areas of work which will be undertaken in collaboration with sector groups. An Education Review Office Report on schools' use of operational funding, released at the same time, supported many of the key findings in the Ministry's review. See Ministerial media release 19 December 2006.
A ban on the sale of soft drinks with high sugar content has now come into force in all Victorian government schools. The sale of confectionery in school canteens will also be phased out from 2007 and banned by the end of 2008. The Victorian Government’s 'Go for your life' Healthy Canteen Kit provides practical information, tips and suggestions to help the whole school community make informed food choices and adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. See media release 31 January 2007 from John Lenders, Minister for Education and Training.
In New South Wales, the number of new teachers leaving the profession after one year of service has more than halved from 214 in 2000 to 101 in 2005, a retention rate of more than 95 per cent. The State Government attributes the improvement to a combination of pay, training, working conditions and career opportunities enjoyed by teachers in the State. See media release 30 January 2007 from the Department of Education and Training.
In South Australia, strong new strategies to manage school students who have difficult and disruptive behaviour will be introduced this year. The program includes professional training for more than 7,500 teachers and school services officers; special funding for State primary and high schools to introduce local programs that improve students’ social skills; employment of 10 coordinators across the State; and involvement of school communities. High-level professional support will also be provided for an extra 120 individual students with a mental health disorder or a history of challenging behaviour. See media release from Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, 29 January 2007.
An updated version of the Strategic Plan for South Australia has been released by the State Government. The reform agenda includes building new schools, establishing 20 ‘one stop’ Children’s Centres for families, 10 Trade Schools for the Future and a new and more flexible secondary school curriculum. The new ‘learning or earning’ target supports the Government’s commitment to having all young people engaged in school, work or training, including boosting the numbers of young people employed. The Government plans to introduce legislation that requires young people to be in school, training or meaningful work until they turn 17, and it is increasing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships available. A new element in the revised Strategic Plan is lifting the State’s performance in mathematics, physics and science. See Ministerial media release 24 January 2007.