The Business Council of Australia has released a discussion paper proposing a five-point plan to alleviate what it calls a quality crisis in schools. The plan's proposals include performance pay for teachers, early intervention for literacy and numeracy, and closer links between schools and business. See BCA media release 26 August 2007 and article in The Age 27 August 2007.
The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) has called on the Australian Government to focus more attention on 'major problems with school science courses and a shortage of qualified teachers' rather than on 'marginal issues in education, such as performance pay for teachers', according to an article in The Australian 28 August 2007. The ACDS call has been supported by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). The Australian Government has announced an action plan for school science education, which is to be discussed by the directors-general of education at the Australian Education Systems Officials Committee (AESOC) meeting in October. A report on the status and quality of teaching and learning in science has been prepared for the Australian Government, but has not yet been released.
A year-long trial in the USA has been used to evaluated the capacity of computers to enhance the learning of primary school students in for reading, basic maths, and algebra tuition. The study involved about 9,500 students in Years 1, 4 and 6 in 132 schools. The study found that the students' test results in maths and reading 'were no different from those of students in classrooms without the computer programs', according to a report in The Australian 4 August 2007.
More mathematicians and scientists will be encouraged to train as teachers in the next stage of a South Australian Government program to get experts into the classroom. Six New Beginnings scholarships of $14,000 have been advertised for scientists and mathematicians to complete a post-graduate education qualification and take up a teaching post. State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has said that participants will be guaranteed permanent jobs, in schools finding it difficult to attract a suitably qualified teacher, at the end of their studies. See Minister's media statement 16 August 2007.
In South Australia secondary schools are offering students various options for finishing the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) as well as flexible timetables. The flexibility is designed to help students balance the demands of study and paid work. About 37,500 students in Years 11 and 12 enrolled in flexible learning options last year. Revisions to SACE are expected to facilitate formal recognition of part-time work as a contribution towards the high school qualification. See article in The Advertiser (AdelaideNow.com.au) 29 August 2007.
Tasmania's Minister for Education, David Bartlett, has announced that from 2008 the number of teachers' student-free days, reserved for moderation or professional development, will be reduced from four days to one day per year. Mr Bartlett said that Tasmanian students already attended school for fewer days than the Australian average and also spend less time being taught during the school week. See Minister's media statement 18 August 2007.
The Australian Government’s Investing in Our Schools Programme (IOSP) is to extended into a fourth round of funding, with $140 million approved to public schools. See media release from the Australian Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, 28 August 2007.
A new colour-coded alert system being rolled out to all Victorian schools will keep parents aware of any serious danger at their child’s school. State Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike, has said that the new protocol involves cooperation between Victoria Police, the Education Department and schools. The new system will apply to all government schools and consultation is underway to extend it to the non-government school sector as soon as possible. See Minister's media statement 15 August 2007.