A national consultation process, conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research and which involved universities, parents and employers, has found support for the gradual introduction of a national Year 12 qualification, in order to ensure a greater consistency of standards and requirements across educational jurisdictions. For more information see the article by Chee Chee Leung in The Age 21 November 2005.
Year 12 completion rates continue to decline in Queensland, contrary to the national trend, with a 1.2 per cent fall over a two-year period. The current school completion rate in Queensland is 75.3 per cent, but Education Minister Rod Welford anticipates an improvement in the rate once the 'learning or earning' reforms come into effect next year. For more information see the article by Malcolm Cole in The Courier Mail 21 November 2005.
There are fears that a further widening of parental choice in regards to students' secondary schooling will see even more students miss out on a place in their scondary school of choice. A survey of school students in England has found that thousands have failed to achieve a place at the secondary school of their choice, and have been forced, in some cases, to accept places at schools much lower on their list of preferences. It's anticipated that proposed reforms to allow parents even more choice will exacerbate the problem, as well as the plight of disadvantaged schools. For more information see the article by Chris Johnston in the Education Guardian 18 November 2005.
The Department of Education and Training Annual Report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament by Education Minister Lynne Kosky on 15 November. According to the report, more than one thousand extra staff were employed in Victorian schools during the previous financial year. The effect of this has been particularly noticeable in primary schools, where class sizes have continued to decrease. School completion rates, students' literacy and numeracy performances in benchmark testing, and increases in enrolments in the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning are also highlighted in the report. For more information see Media Release 15 November 2005, and the Department of Education and Training Annual Report 2004–2005.
The Learner's Perspective Study, conducted by the University of Melbourne, investigated mathematics pedagogy in 14 countries, with the aim of collecting and documenting teaching strategies to help inform and diversify teachers' approaches to mathematics lessons. The findings of the study will be published in two volumes, the first of which is due to appear in 2006. For more information see the article by Elizabeth Tarica in The Age 21 November 2005.
The inaugural meeting of Australia's training ministers has approved plans to establish a National Industry Skills Committee to replace the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA). The new committee's role will cover training policy, funding priorities and workforce planning issues. It will comprise up to 12 members but unlike ANTA will have only one union representative, with the other positions allocated to employer representatives. See Media Release 18 November 2005 by The Hon Gary Hardgrave, MP, Australian Government Minister for Technical and Vocational Education. See also 'Bosses to dominate skills group', Australian Financial Review 21 November 2005 p3 (fee-based access).
New Zealand's recently appointed Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, has outlined a program of activity for the next three years. It includes moving to 20 hours of free early childhood education for all three- and four-year-olds, continuing to lift literacy and numeracy standards, and building confidence in the senior school examination and assessment system. Other concerns include teacher assessment, the long 'tail' of low student achievers, discipline, and the potential introduction of the country's new apprenticeship system into senior secondary schooling. See Ministerial media release 19 October 2005 and 'Changing of the guard' in Principals Today Term 4 2005 p7. Mr Mahary replaces former Education Minister Mr Trevor Mallard.
The newly opened Aurora School in Victoria will provide a state-wide service to deaf and blind children, catering to children from birth to 18 years. Facilities include two self-contained units for parents accompanying their children, and the latest acoustic technology. The school will be based at Blackburn in Melbourne's eastern suburbs and will operate outreach sites across the State. The school is the amalgamation of the Princess Elizabeth Junior School for Deaf Children, the Mornington Early Intervention Centre, and Carronbank School. See report in Education Times 17 November 2005 (full newspaper, in pdf format).
The terms of reference for an independent comparative study of Year 12 assessments throughout Australia have now been released. The study was announced in September by Australian Government Minister for Education Brendan Nelson. It will examine the content, curriculum and standards in English (including literature), mathematics, physics and chemistry. The terms of reference include an examination and description of the variety of subject options available in the selected Year 12 certificate subjects in terms of content, curriculum and standards; a comparison of the relative strengths and weaknesses of subject offerings across jurisdictions; and a description of the extent of the involvement of university discipline specialists in the development of content, curriculum and assessment criteria. See Ministerial media release 23 November 2005.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Lyne, Mark Vaile, and the Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, Gary Hardgrave, today announced the signing of a multi-million contract for the Australian Technical College in Port Macquarie and Taree, New South Wales. See Ministerial media release 15 November 2005.
The USA is likely to increase its intake of teachers from other countries over the next decade. The pressure to hire overseas teachers will be generated by forthcoming retirement of the baby boomer generation and stricter teacher competency standards required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which will start in 2006. The most sought-after teachers will be in special education, maths and science, as well as bilingual Spanish language instructors. Overseas teachers usually work in the USA on temporary work or cultural exchange visas, renewable for three to six years. See article in The Mercury News 13 November 2005.