Cool Aid is an education kit for secondary teachers and students produced by Network Ten television and the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM). See the Cool Aid section of the Network Ten website and the study guide available from Metro Magazine, published by ATOM.
An article in the Herald Sun states that Victorian Catholic schools are to adopt new terminology for student reports (see article 'Catholics skip the grade' by Milanda Rout, p 14, 15 March 2007). Parents will now receive reports 'with grade descriptions such as "well above", "at" or "below" the standard expected' for particular subjects, corresponding to A to E grades used in government schools. The article quotes an officer of the Catholic Education Office Melbourne as saying that the changes were made after feedback from teachers and parents. A to E rankings will still appear in 'a legend on the bottom of the reports', the article states.
KidsMatter is a primary school mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention initiative developed in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Beyondblue: the National Depression Initiative, the Australian Psychological Society, the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council (APAPDC) and supported by the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund. This year more than 100 schools nationally will start a two-year pilot study to confront mental health issues and teach social and emotional skills through one of several programs available. See report in The Age, 12 March 2007.
This week in the news media there has been further discussion of various merit-based or performance-based pay schemes for teachers. In the Australian Financial Review, economist Andrew Leigh has proposed a scheme under which teachers could opt either for merit-based pay or current contractual arrangements (‘Breaking the pay deadlock’, 8 March 2007, p 62). The Age has published a commentary on this topic by journalist Farrah Tomazin, 9 March 2007, and a response by former teacher and teacher educator Barry Duff, 16 March 2007. Also in The Age, journalist Julie Szego has supported performance-based pay in an article 13 March 2007 commenting on the position of government and non-government schools. The Age: Education has included a further report on the issue, 12 March 2007.
The South Australian Government is offering 30 scholarships to encourage student teachers to undertake a teaching practicum at a country school. Successful applicants for a Country Teaching Practicum Scholarship will each receive up to $1,250 to support transport and living costs. The scholarship program is one of a range of initiatives addressing the need for more teachers in regional parts of the State and in the subject areas of maths and science. See media release by Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, 12 March 2007.
South Australia's Education Minister, Jane Lomax-Smith, has announced that up to $82 million will be available to more than 1,000 State schools and preschools to reshape the way they deliver education and childcare to children. The move is part of the State's $216 million Education Works plan, under which the State’s schools and preschools are being invited to consider ways to revitalise public education. An Education Works team, including teachers and principals, is holding information sessions across the State to help school communities to suggest improvements in school education, including practical ways to enable more specialist subjects, more choices for students and more efficient and effective management. See Ministerial media release, 8 March 2007.
In New Zealand, the draft new curriculum for schools has been queried by Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres for deleting references to the Treaty of Waitangi. He has supported complaints from Maori leaders about the removal of the treaty from the six guiding principles of the new curriculum. The treaty was one of nine guiding principles in the previous curriculum, adopted in 1993, which explained that the treaty recognised 'the unique position of Maori in New Zealand society'. See article in the New Zealand Herald, 13 March 2007.
New Zealand is set to become one of the first countries in the world to introduce sign language into the school curriculum. The New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 assigns sign language official status as a language. The sign language curriculum, which will be optional, will start in intermediate schools, but eventually cover students up to Year 10. See Ministerial media release and report in New Zealand Herald, both 15 March 2007.
Across Queensland, 258 teachers have begun a trial of digital cameras and MP3 players as means to improve student learning. One government school will launch an iPod club where students will record interviews and turn them into podcasts and audio stories for their new online magazine. In another project a digital video camera will be used to help students design a new playground for prep students as part of a maths investigation, helping students understand basic mathematics concepts in a fun way. The trial is part of the $100,000 Discovering New Technologies (Smart Teaching) initiative, a key component of the Government's Smart Classrooms strategy. The trial follows other technology initiatives such as the teacher laptop trial conducted in 61 schools in the Ipswich and Cairns areas, the results of which are currently being evaluated. See Ministerial media release, 8 March 2007.
The Australasian Forum of Teacher Registration and Accreditation Authorities (AFTRAA) has released a draft framework setting out proposed national requirements that education courses must meet to enable their graduates to teach in government, Catholic and independent schools. The proposal is titled The Framework for the National Recognition of Approved Pre-service Teacher Education Programs. The release of the draft framework follows Teaching Australia’s release, last October, of its proposals for Australia-wide accreditation of teacher preparation programs. Teaching Australia’s proposals are set out in the consultation paper Australia-wide accreditation of programs for the professional preparation of teachers. Teaching Australia has invited public consultation on the proposal over the period October 2006–March 2007. See the Teacher education accreditation page of the Teaching Australia website. For responses to the proposals, see The Australian’s report, 12 March and follow-up article, 13 March 2007. See also the 'What's happening' section on the home page of the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) website.