Sixty-nine state school teachers have been selected to join Queensland’s new Discovering New Technologies Smart Teaching initiative this year. Each teacher will undertake an action learning project using an iPod MP3 player or Panasonic digital video camera, and provide feedback on the educational potential of the technology.
Karen Sewell is the New Zealand Ministry of Education's newly appointed Chief Executive and Secretary for Education, replacing Howard Fancy. See article in New Zealand Education Gazette, 5 February 2007.
The AEU has surveyed public school teachers with one to three years' classroom experience regarding their current professional concerns. The survey received more than 1,000 replies. The four top concerns for new teachers were workload, behaviour management, pay and class sizes. Other major concerns were job security, professional development and pressure to teach outside their area of expertise. See media release, 30 January 2007. A second AEU survey of more than 1,000 public school principals across Australia revealed that 60 per cent had difficulties recruiting enough teachers. Forty per cent said finding casual relief teachers was their greatest problem, while 17 per cent were unable to fill fixed term or contract positions and 8 per cent were unable to fill permanent positions. A third of respondents reported having classes with more than 30 students and 70 per cent said major upgrades of their school's facilities were needed. See also article in The West Australian, 10 February 2007.
The Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA) has supported moves towards a more national approach to curriculum, as a means to improve students' outcomes without sacrificing the flexibility to adapt schooling to local contexts. See report on ABC News Online, 8 February 2007.
A Centre of Education Excellence has been established in Queensland. It is one of nine similar centres being established throughout the State. The centre aims to enable local principals and teachers to identify community and student needs, share success stories and co-ordinate professional development. See Ministerial media release by Rod Welford, 9 February 2007.
Researchers at the University of Western Sydney have found that boys are engaged by approaches to learning that use culture-based programs and link to community life. These approaches have been found to be particularly effective for boys from Indigenous, low SES, rural and isolated backgrounds. Strong teacher-student relationships, learning that centres on students’ interests and seeking input from parents and community members were also found to assist learning. The research is based on pre-, primary and secondary schools that have improved boys’ academic and social outcomes. See UWS media release, 2 February 2007.
The University of Western Sydney is about to undertake a project that aims to promote greater cultural understanding and foster racial tolerance in schools. The project will explore issues by documenting the views of students from eight schools in south-west Sydney. See media release, 29 January 2007.
Britain’s Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has proposed revisions to the curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds. The proposals aim to give schools greater flexibility in deciding curriculum and allow students to progress at their own pace. The education secretary has announced several ‘non-negotiable areas’ of the curriculum, which include selected classical works of English literature, the subjects Algebra and Geometry, and historical coverage the world wars, Britain's involvement in the slave trade and broader issues of 'identity and diversity'. Draft curriculum guidelines include issues like climate change and ‘economically useful’ languages, such as Mandarin and Urdu. Greater emphasis will be placed on learning outside the school environment. Suggestions include theatre performances, an unaccompanied 50-mile trip to develop self-confidence and project-based work encompassing design and technology, maths, geography and science. See report, 5 February 2007 from The Guardian and article from The Independent, 6 February 2007.
The Queensland Government has announced a package of new measures designed to improve educational outcomes for students in the Torres Strait. Launching the initiatives on Thursday Island, Bonny Barry, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, said they followed extensive consultation with the local community. A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) acknowledges the Torres Strait Islanders' Regional Education Council as the key community-based education organisation. The moves are part of the State Government's blueprint Bound for Success – Education Strategy for the Torres Strait. The Government is also establishing the Tagai State College to provide a more consistent curriculum, application of assessment and monitoring of students' performance. This is a 'virtual' college that creates an overall entity for the 17 schools in the Torres Strait and covers 1,789 students and 147 teachers. As well as promoting more consistency, the college will provide better support for students when they move from the outer islands through their schooling. It will also enable more opportunities for the professional development of teachers. A cultural awareness package has also been developed with the support of the Torres Strait Island community to help new teachers better understand the community, in particular their island placement and their Torres Strait students. See Ministerial media release by Rod Welford, 14 February 2007.
The New South Wales' Government has unveiled a new values education initiative. It will encourage teenagers to get involved in community service, learn new skills, foster civic pride and build on the Respect and Responsibility program. See Departmental media release, 11 February 2007.
The Rural Retraining Program in Victoria encourages teachers to retrain in hard-to-staff subject areas, including Special Education, Science, Languages Other Than English (LOTE), Information Technology and Mathematics. More than 230 teachers have joined the program. See media release from Victoria's Minister for Skills, Education Services and Employment, Jacinta Allan, 2 February 2007.