Learning or training law introduced in Western Australia
New 'learning or training' legislation in Western Australia means that students are to stay at school or in training until they turn 16, and in 2008 the leaving age will be raised to 17. The law comes into effect next year. A total of 100 Youth Engagement and Participation (YEP) workers will be employed to make sure that the students who might have dropped out at the end of Year 10 receive an education and training program tailored to suit their needs. Earlier this year, the State Government introduced the 'It Pays to Learn Allowance'. Every school student turning 16 and 17 receives $200. Students aged 16 and 17 who are in training receive $400. This scheme will cost $64.2 million over five years. See Ministerial media statement by Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich 23 August 2005.
Queensland teaching standards overhauled
Legislation to set up a new system for teacher registration has been introduced into the Queensland Parliament. The Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Bill 2005 is designed to implement higher professional standards covering the abilities, experience, knowledge and skills expected of teachers. The introduction of the College implements the recommendations of an independent review of the Board of Teacher Registration, conducted by Griffith University's Professor Marilyn McMeniman last year. See Ministerial media statement 23 August 2005.
AEU calls for broad-based education and defends critical literacy teaching
In a submission to the national inquiry into the teaching of literacy, due to report in the near future, the Australian Education Union has argued against vocational teaching aimed solely at equipping students for future employment, calling instead for a broad-based education. The union also supported critical literacy teaching in the face of recent challenges in the press. See report in The Australian 26 August 2005.
School headscarf ban rejected
Federal Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop has backed calls for a ban on Muslim girls wearing headscarves to public schools, saying the scarves are being used as a symbol of defiance. However, the call has been rejected by a range of prominent Australian leaders, including Prime Minister John Howard (Sydney Morning Herald 30 August 2005), New South Wales Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt (ABC News Online 29 August 2005) and South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith (The Advertiser 29 August 2005). See also the editorial in the Canberra Times 28 August 2005.
Teacher aides for Queensland Prep classes
The Queensland Government has annouced an additional 10,000 hours per week of teacher aide time for Prep classes. Current preschool, early childhood and graduate teachers will be recruited for the positions – the equivalent of 260 full-time jobs. Over 80 per cent of Queensland primary schools are expected to benefit. The construction or refurbishment of around 1,600 classrooms is also planned. See Ministerial media release 23 August 2005.
Closer regulation of unregistered teachers needed in Northern Territory: union
The Australian Education Union (AEU) says the regulation of unqualified teachers in Northern Territory schools is worse since the introduction of a Teacher Registration Board (TRB). The TRB has stated that staff authorised to teach without qualifications include specialist language teachers or graduates waiting for academic qualifications. See report on Yahoo! News 16 August 2005.
Report scheme in Victoria praised and criticised
Victoria's new school reports have been praised by Professor Geoff Masters, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council for Educational Research, as the best, so far, to be produced by a State government under the Commonwealth deal that requires A to E grades as a condition of funding for schools. However, Professor Peter Cuttance, Director of Melbourne University's Centre for Applied Educational Research, has said the money the Victorian Government has allocated for teacher professional development to introduce the reforms was not enough to ensure they would be embedded in all schools. See report in The Age 27 August 2005. See also 'Deal reached on reports in Victoria and South Australia' in this section.
Deal reached on reports in Victoria and South Australia
The Australian Government and the State governments of Victoria and South Australia have agreed on a formula for the ranking of students in school reports. The Australian Government had earlier demanded that school reports rank each student according to their quartile, from the top 25 per cent to the bottom 25 per cent of their class. The demand, which had been a condition of Australian Government school funding, was resisted by both State governments. Under the new agreement, quartile rankings will only be assigned at the request of parents. See article in The Age 1 September 2005. See also 'Report scheme in Victoria praised and criticised' in this section.
UK business chiefs worry at drift from maths, science and languages
The Confederation of British Industry is 'seriously worried about the flight from languages, maths and science in favour of media studies and psychology' in schools. The shift is partly attributed to pressure to achieve high marks in exams and fear of doing poorly in demanding subjects, which has contributed to ongoing debate about school assessment. See article in the Education Guardian 15 August 2005.
Higher drop-out rate blamed on harder curriculum in Ontario
The high school drop-out rate in Ontario, Canada, rose to 32 per cent in 2003–04, after a new curriculum was introduced and Grade 13 was eliminated. Education Minister Gerard Kennedy has called for problem students to be identified at elementary school, and announced caps on class sizes and more resource teachers to that ensure students receive individual attention. See article from Ottowa Citizen (canada.com), 16 August 2005.
Educational software market slumps
In the USA, sales of educational software for home computers has fallen from US$498m to US$152m in value over the last five years. The collapse is attributed to the rise of new, often free, games and learning sites on the Internet, along with the spread of broadband connections in homes. See article in the New York Times 22 August 2005. (Free registration required)
Special education newsletter launched in NZ
The New Zealand Ministry of Education's Special Education (GSE) division has launched a national newsletter. The bi-annual newsletter will be sent to all schools, along with local special education news. See article in the New Zealand Education Gazette 8 August 2005.
Behaviour services standards released in NZ
The Reducing Challenging Behaviour initiative in New Zealand provides services to children and young people with severe and challenging behaviour. It aims to ensure nationally-consistent and high-quality standards in behaviour services. The initiative has reached its first milestone with a review of service standards. Other parts of the initiative include research on effective intervention methods and evaluations of local programs. See article in the New Zealand Education Gazette 8 August 2005.