This week the Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, delivered an address to the News Ltd Education Forum in Sydney. Topics in her speech included support for school infrastructure, early childhood education, support for disadvantaged students, and measures focused on quality teaching. See also What's New items this week covering school performance reporting and spending on school infrastructure.
The New South Wales Minister for Education, Verity Firth, has announced that 50 schools in the State are to be designated 'centres of excellence'. The schools are to cover primary and secondary levels and will include all three sectors. They will have online links to schools in remote areas. The centres of excellence will be selected on the basis of consistently strong assessment results for the senior level Higher School Certificate, the Year 10 School Certificate and national literacy and numeracy tests for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Links with university teacher education faculties will provide opportunities for further professional development of present teachers, and school participation for student teachers beyond the traditional practicum. Each of the centres for excellence will receive start-up funding and will be allocated an additional teacher from the 100 recently qualified 'highly accomplished' teachers, a new, high-paid category created under the State's merit pay system. The first school selected is Macarthur Girls High. The others are to be announced in September. The initiative is funded through the Australian Government's National Partnership on Quality Teaching, established through the Council of Australian Governments. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald and article in The Australian, both 31 July 2009. The NSW Teachers Federation has meanwhile expressed concern 'that schools in low socio-economic areas have missed out on funding under the federal government's National Partnership on Low SES School Communities program' as implemented by the State Department of Education and Training. See statement 29 July 2009.
Former Australian Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe has delivered a speech at the recent Beyond Sport Summit in London, in which he raised concerns over Australia's record in relation to Indigenous education and welfare, and also promoted the activities of his Fountain for Youth organisation. The organisation 'works with Aboriginal teachers, health workers, parents and children, with the health services and the schools' to support pre-schooling, health education, and 'literacy backpacks that let kids carry home reading for the whole family'. Read transcript of speech on Crikey.com 23 July 2009. See also report on ABC News and article in The Australian both 30 July 2009, and earlier article in The Australian 24 July 2009.
Brian Chudleigh of the Public School Principals Forum has expressed doubts that the Australian Government's proposals for school performance reporting will allow adequately for the contextual factors influencing student results at each school. However, support for the proposals has been reaffirmed by Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, and by Barry McGaw, Chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). See article 29 July and subsequent article 30 July in The Daily Telegraph.
Victorian Treasurer John Lenders has applauded the impact of Australian Government spending on school infrastructure, for its stimulus to building work in the State. See media release from the State Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike, 31 July 2009. However, an article in The Australian 30 July 2009 remarks on the difficulty of establishing the level of economic stimulus achieved by Australian Government's spending on school infrastructure, on the basis of information made available by State and Territory authorities. See also earlier report 27 July 2009, also in The Australian.
An article in The Daily Telegraph 29 July 2009 states that an internet filter installed for schools in New South Wales gave students access to inappropriate material while blocking some educational sites and State Education Minister Verity Firth's website.
The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) has banned a strike and related industrial action by the Queensland Teachers Union (QTU), scheduled for 5 August 2009. The union has advised members that the campaign will continue through other actions. See QTU media statements and earlier media release from State Minister for Education and Training, Geoff Wilson 30 July 2009.