Almost 16 months after their school was ravaged by fire, students from a Sydney primary school are still having lessons in makeshift classrooms while they wait for repair work to start. Parents are outraged at what they say is an unacceptable delay in rebuilding Carlingford Public School, gutted after an arson attack in December 2003. The fire was one of 77 blazes in NSW schools in 2003–04, causing more than $26 million in damage. See report in The Sun-Herald (Sydney Morning Herald) 10 April, 2005.
The number of children in England struggling to read when they leave primary school is 'unacceptably high', according to the Education Select Committee of Britain's parliament. The Committee cites claims by academics that the Government has underestimated the number of 11-year-olds failing to reach required standards in reading. The report calls for a review of the Government's national literacy strategy. See report in The Independent 7 April 2005.
The Australian Government is to extend its Quality Teacher Programme (AGQTP), which will receive an extra $139 million in the 2005–06 Budget. The AGQTP is the Government’s flagship initiative for improving the quality of school teaching and school leadership in Australia. It provides funding for high quality professional development for school teachers and also funds important national initiatives. See ministerial media statement 8 April 2005.
Victorian police have investigated at least 40 cases of sexual abuse between students at primary and secondary schools in the past year. A Herald Sun survey of 14 of Victoria Police's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse units found children in poor, fast-growing outer-suburban areas were most likely to become victims of the school-related offences. The State education department recently set up a Student Critical Incident Advisory Unit that deals with cases of student-to-student sexual abuse. See report in the Herald Sun 13 April 2005.
As part of the Western Australian Government's initiative to promote academic achievement in public schools, $700,000 will be allocated to gifted and talented services in the State's education system over the next four years; a centre for academic excellence will be established; and $1 million will be awarded in student scholarships. For more information see Media Statement, 1 April 2005.
The newly appointed Western Australian Minister for Education and Training, Ljilanna Ravlich, has outlined the Gallop Government's second term agenda for the areas in her portfolio. The Gallop Government's aims include raising the school leaving age to seventeen years, and providing increased funding for school maintenance and behaviour management programs. Year 10 and 11 students will also have to fulfil new community service requirements as part of their school year. For more information see Media Statement, 30 March 2005, and the Minister's address in the Legislative Council on 30 March 2005.
Nineteen teachers in South Australia will be placed in industries across the State this year, with the assistance of the Premier's Industry Awards for Teachers of Science and Mathematics. The awards allow teachers of Science and Mathematics to experience work in industries relevant to their disciplines, with the hope that they will transform this experience into making Science and Mathematics learning more stimulating for students. For more information see News Release, 10 April 2005.
The Teachers Registration and Standards Act 2005 came into effect in South Australia on 31 March. Under the Act, the Teachers' Registration Board has the responsibility of carrying out initial criminal history checks of all teachers registered in South Australia, and is obliged to do so again when teachers renew their registration after a period of three years. The Act also requires teachers to undergo training in reporting child abuse to assist them in complying with the mandatory reporting of such incidents. For more information see News Release, 1 April 2005.
Australia's shortage of teachers with Science degrees has been highlighted in new research by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education. See 'Teachers working with inexact science' in The Australian and 'Schools hit by science teacher shortages' in The Age, 20 April 2005.
Current government policies on pedophilia are hindering the struggle against it, according to comments from a range of experts in crime and child abuse quoted in The Age. Some of the experts argue that harsh penalties and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to offenders discourages them from coming forward for treatment, as does the shortage of help services and the cost of treatment by private practitioners. Some of the experts call for resources to be redirected from maintenance of costly offender registers and programs for tracking of Internet pornography towards early treatment programs, which have proven results in reducing child sexual abuse. For more details of these points of view, see the Editorial and the following articles in The Age, 18 April 2005: 'Demonising pedophiles not helping', 'Matters of conviction', and 'Record checks abuses are denying rehabilitation'.