The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has written to all Australian secondary school principals encouraging them to apply for funding under the Government's new $2.5 billion Trade Training Centres in Schools Programme. See Minister's media release 7 March 2008.
Many of the previous Australian Government's school education policies are under review, including the program of summer schools for teachers and the trial of an aptitude test as an alternative to Year 12 exams for university entry. The school chaplaincy program will be amended to allow schools to hire a pastoral care worker if they are unable to find a chaplain after six months. The Government will continue the Even Start national literacy and numeracy vouchers program this year. See Minister's media release 11 March 2008 and article in The Australian, also 11 March 2008.
More than 100 Brisbane teachers have transferred to schools closer to home as part of a Queensland Government initiative to help combat climate change and improve working conditions for educators. See media release by State Education and Training Minister, Rod Welford, 13 March 2008.
First year teachers will be targeted by a new $1.3million mentoring program, designed to retain science and mathematics teachers in Western Australia’s public and private schools. See media statement by State Education and Training Minister, Mark McGowan, 11 March 2008.
Fifty Victorian university graduates have been awarded scholarships of up to $9,000 to become maths and science teachers under the State Government's Maths and Science Graduate Scholarships scheme. The scheme will offer a further 100 scholarships over the next two years as part of a $1.4 million plan to increase the number of specialist teachers in Victoria. See media release by Minister of Education, Bronwyn Pike, 12 March 2008.
A Victorian Government drive to boost literacy will see every Victorian toddler receive a free picture book. Under the $2.1 million Young Readers Program, the 824 maternal and child health centres in Victoria will start distributing the free books to an estimated 70,000 parents with two-year-old children. See media release 6 March 2008.
A new report by the Dana Foundation in the USA summarises three years of studies by neuroscientists and psychologists that link learning in the arts with the general cognitive ability of students. Training in music has been found to have positive effects on reading fluency, maths calculations, speaking fluency in a second language, and long-term and working memory. The visual arts have been linked to geometry skills, while dance helps children to learn by observation. See article in Edweek 7 March 2008 (registration required).
In the USA a school district has run a primary maths 'class' for parents. The presentation, titled Anatomy of an Elementary Maths Lesson, was designed to demonstrate the operation of a new, concept based teaching approach, and allay a range of parental concerns about it. See article in the Times Chronicle Glenside News 12 March 2008.