Teachers are invited to offer feedback on proposed new national professional standards for teachers, via an online survey. The survey is open until 30 October 2010. It is being conducted by SIMERR on behalf of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). There are two versions of the survey, one open to all teachers, the other for a pre-selected trial group. The draft national teaching standards set out what teachers across Australia should know and be able to do across the domains of professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement at four levels: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher. The standards will provide a continuum of capabilities and expectations for teachers. Initially they will guide ongoing professional learning and set a reliable, fair and nationally consistent basis for the accreditation of pre-service teacher education courses and teacher registration. The validation process gives practising teachers and principals a direct say in determining the applicability and usefulness of the standards. By drawing on the views of teachers, the process also has the potential to provide new ways of recognising and celebrating high-quality teaching in Australian schools. For further information, please contact the AITSL Project Manager, Patrick Kennedy at email@example.com or phone (03) 8330 9485.
The education ministers of Australia, NSW and Victoria held a joint press conference on 18 October 2010, as part of the MCEEDYA Biennial Forum (see separate news item on this page). The ministers commented on topics including decisions of the recently completed meeting of the Ministerial Council for Education, the national quality agenda for early childhood education and care, the My School website, and the forthcoming national curriculum.
The Australian Education Ministers' 2010 Biennial Forum was held in Canberra on 15 October 2010. Titled Education for the Future: Improving student learning and school performance, the Forum brought together over 300 of Australia's educational leaders and practitioners from all jurisdictions and sectors for a range of interactive presentations and discussions. See list of presentations, including videos and podcasts of speeches and written project reports.
This week there has been further media discussion on the forthcoming national curriculum. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald 21 October 2010 reports that leaders of over 100 Independent schools in NSW and the ACT have supported a call for more emphasis on thinking skills in the curriculum. See also article in The Australian 18 October discussing the arts curriculum.
The NSW Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, has released an evaluation into the trial of ethics in NSW primary schools. The evaluation found a high level of support for the course in school communities, and high levels of engagement among students when discussing ethical issues. The trial was conducted in 10 NSW primary schools during Term 2 of this year and involved more than 500 students in Year 5 and 6. The report will now be available for public comment before a decision was made on the future of ethics classes. Ms Firth stressed that the Government has no plans to replace Special Religious Education in NSW public schools. See Minister's statement 20 October 2010. See also article 20 October and related article 21 October 2010 in The Sydney Morning Herald.
An article in The Australian 20 October 2010 reports that there has been a significant rise in the number of applications for undergraduate science and maths courses. The increase may be due in part to Australian Government measures that have reduced student fee contributions in priority areas.
The NSW Minister for Education, Verity Firth, has argued that the My School website should provide information on assets, trusts or foundations held by independent schools, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald 20 October 2010.
An article in The Age 15 October 2010 argues that fixed-term employment contracts often create insecurity and lower morale amongst teachers and non-teaching staff in Victorian schools. The article reports that approximately 7000 teachers, or about about 18 per cent of the state's teaching workforce, are employed on fixed-term contracts.
This week Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike launched The Safe School Coalition Victoria (SSCV), a new organisation dedicated to supporting sexual diversity and addressing the problem of homophobia in schools. SSCV is a partnership between Rainbow Network Victoria and the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) as well as a coalition of schools and individuals dedicated to creating safer educational environments. See Minister's statement 21 October 2010 and article in The Age also 21 October 2010.
Nominations for the 2010 Australian Vocational Student Prize (AVSP) are now open. The AVSP promotes the value of gaining vocational skills while at school and recognises students who choose to pursue a practical training pathway while completing their senior secondary studies. Each year, up to 500 prizes are awarded to outstanding Year 12 students. Students are nominated by their school on the basis that they have demonstrated outstanding vocational and employability skills, high achievement and commitment while undertaking a Vocational Education and Training in Schools program or an Australian School-based Apprenticeship. Each winner receives a certificate and $2000. Nominations close 17 December 2010. See online details for further information and nomination forms.
The NSW Government is to reorganise curriculum staffing, following its decision to merge the Curriculum Support Directorate and the Centre for Learning Innovation. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 18 October 2010.
Tasmania's Minister for Education and Skills, Lin Thorp, has announced the formation of an innovative new school to provide more flexible learning opportunities for all Tasmanian students. Ms Thorp said the Tasmanian eSchool would provide more opportunities for student-focused online learning by bringing together Distance Education Tasmania, CELO Online and the Online Campus into a single school from 2011. See Minister's statement 19 October 2010.
Teacher education students in the ACT have expressed concern at the planned closure of the ACT's two specialist libraries for teachers, The Education Centre at the University of Canberra and the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stirling. See article in The Canberra Times 20 October 2010.
The Equity in Education Alliance is a new coalition of groups concerned that the financial costs of participating in compulsory education is an increasing burden on many Victorian families. The Alliance includes the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. See VCOSS media release 20 October 2010 and article in The Age 21 October 2010.