The shortage of specialist maths teachers is now being felt in major suburban high schools. One large Melbourne school has had to cancel an extension maths class for Years 9 and 10 due to a lack of applicants for the position. Some schools are unable to offer advanced maths subjects, forcing students to change schools or study by correspondence. See article in The Australian 21 May 2008. See also earlier report on teacher shortages in New South Wales, in the Sydney Morning Herald 18 May 2008.
In a recent speech to the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales, Education Minister Julia Gillard has described the Australian Government's commitment to new forms of evaluation for school and student performance, and commented on Government policy towards funding of non-government schools. See article in The Australian 23 May 2008 and earlier report in the Sydney Morning Herald and comment in the Courier Mail both 16 May 2008. On the issue of school funding, see also article in Sydney Morning Herald 16 May 2008 and commentary 28 May 2008 by Chris Bonnor in On Line Opinion.
The New South Wales Government is to introduce a voluntary system of teacher accreditation based on demonstrated standards of professional accomplishment and leadership developed by the NSW Institute of Teachers. The accreditation procedure will involve observation of candidates’ classes by independent evaluators over a period of time. The State Government has suggested that the accreditation could be used in forthcoming pay negotiations with the Teachers Federation. A spokesman for the State Government notes that the scheme has similarities and differences to the performance pay scheme recently put forward by the Business Council of Australia. See article 29 May 2008 and earlier report 26 May 2008 in The Australian. See also commentary 28 May 2008 by the Teachers Federation, and report on ABC News, article in the Sydney Morning Herald, article in The Age, and report on NEWS.com.au, all 26 May 2008.
Industrial action is continuing in New South Wales as the Teachers Federation opposes changes to staffing and transfer system in Government schools. See article in the Daily Telegraph 23 May 2008 and report on ABC News 22 May 2008.
Australian Government Education Minister Julia Gillard has emphasised the role of phonics in early years' education, while also stating that specification of curriculum 'is not a task for politicians'. She indicated that the Australian Government would rely on advice from the new National Curriculum Board. See article in The Australian 19 May 2008.
The New South Wales Government has proposed that high school students should be required to study at least four Australian books, poems or plays by Year 10. See report on ABC News 19 May 2008.
A report in The Age 18 May 2008 describes the reactions of some teachers to the pay deal negotiated between the Victorian Government and the Australian Education Union.
A proposal to build an Islamic school in south western Sydney has been rejected by Camden Council. The Council 'insisted the decision had been made purely on planning grounds' while 'some of the 200 residents who attended the meeting at Camden Civic Centre took the decision as a victory against Islamic radicalism', according to an article in The Australian 28 May 2008. See comments of Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson and Australian Government Education Minister Julia Gillard in a subsequent article in The Australian, 29 May 2008.
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald 26 May 2008 suggests that 'scores of elite private schools' in New South Wales are obtaining 'an unfair advantage' through special consideration for students in examinations for the Higher School Certificate.
The Ombudsman in New South Wales is to inquire into complaints against the Board of Studies concerning the marking and scaling of some students' High School Certificate examination papers. See article 27 May 2008 in the Sydney Morning Herald.
An article in The Australian 21 May 2008 describes strategies for teacher rectruitment, retention and development used by the Sydney Catholic Education Office.
Six South Australian primary schools are trialling a new program to help children excel in mathematics. The program, called the Primary Years Numeracy Professional Learning Program, is targeted at primary-age children and is based on extensive research from Victoria’s RMIT University. See media release 23 May 2008 from Jane Lomax-Smith, State Minister for Education.
The Civil Contractors Association has called on the Tasmanian Education Department to show more support for students leaving school for trade careers. The Association believes that schools face 'too much pressure' to retain students until Year 12, according to a report on ABC News 18 May 2008.
The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) has produced an interactive online activity called Cybersmart Detectives, aiming to teach children how to be responsible cyber-citizens. The program will be provided to schools free of charge. See media release 20 May 2008 by Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Poor construction of school buildings has been blamed for the disproportionally high number of deaths and injury suffered by school children in the recent earthquakes in China. See article in The Age 26 May 2008.
Welsh linguist David Crystal has claimed that sending text messages is good for children's literacy, since children are spending more time reading and writing. Researchers at Coventry University have also found that text message abbreviations are linked positively with literacy achievements. See article in icWales 22 May 2008.