Defining adequate supervision
Volume 15 Number 41, 19 October 2005; Page 5
Teachers are expected to supervise children in their care to a reasonable level. A High Court decision earlier this year helps to define the level of supervisory responsibility of teachers and schools. At a primary school in Canberra an eight-year-old child was injured after being pulled from a flying fox in the playground by two other children. Lawyers for the child’s family queried whether the school had rostered an adequate number of teachers to supervise the playground. They also argued that children will only misbehave if they think no adult is watching. The Court stated that ‘the scope for juvenile mischief is, however, greater than that’. It found 4-1 in favour of the school. It found that increasing supervision of the playground at recess would be difficult and inconvenient, and that teachers as well as students are entitled to a recreational break. It confirmed that children cannot be watched at every moment. In fact such surveillance would undermine trust between teacher and child and hinder the development of responsibility in the child. The lawyer for the school recommends that schools consider a range of issues, including a risk assessment; cost factors; and the adequacy of preventative measures such as guidelines for physical contact, and the rigour with which they are carried out.
Duty of care
Bosses want exam revamp
19 October 2005; Page 11
Leading employer groups regard the proposed Australian Certificate of Education (ACE) as a chance to align school level assessment more closely with skills needed in the workforce. A national testing system would also give employers a clear sense of the educational attainment of interstate applicants. Prime Minister John Howard has indicated support for a national final year exam, but as a supplement rather than an alternative to State tests. Business groups are wary of double up and creating a new level of bureaucracy. However the proposed ACE, 'evolving from the existing State and Territory qualifications', could provide a framework for grouping a set of statements of attainment, including 'employability skills'. Proposals for an ACE based on the International Baccalaureate have been rejected as too academically oriented. The ACE can become Australia's recognised brand to attract international students, and could be offered as a 'package deal' that combines the secondary degree with tertiary or vocational qualifications.
Subject HeadingsSenior secondary education
Where does primary education stand on new report?
Volume 15 Number 41, 19 October 2005; Page 4
The recent report Where do We Stand? Benchmarking Australian Primary School Curricula evaluates the quality of primary school curricula in Australian States and Territories, and makes international comparisons. The report is part of an age-old debate on the appropriate balance in education, between content – facts, figures, set skills and social expectations; and strategy – the generalised capacity for reflection, discernment and critique. Most educational thinking demands a balance between content and strategy. The report calls for greater control over content and claims that the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) model is skewed towards strategy. However supporters of OBE claim that it balances the two elements. Their claim is supported by two facts. Australian education, 'in spite of the report's insinuations', performs well in international evaluations. Australian education is also valued overseas for producing graduates who can think for themselves, adapt to circumstances, and 'communicate globally'. The development of these skills begins at primary school level. Education systems should retain a balance between content and strategy. The report's claim that some systems need greater control over content should be critically appraised. There should be no retreat from sophistication back to the basics.
Subject HeadingsPrimary education
Just a knock back? Identity bruising on the route to becoming a male primary school teacher
Volume 11 Number 4, August 2005; Pages 341–356
The dearth of men entering the primary teaching profession has led to concerns about what this means for the profession and for the education and socialisation of children, particularly boys, in primary schools. These concerns have been accompanied by various measures and incentives to address the decline of male recruits, and they have also led to research into the reasons for men eschewing a career in the profession. Foster and Newman’s research examines the experiences of male primary teachers, focusing on how they negotiate the perceived ‘female’ cultures of primary schools, as well as the gendered perceptions of their communities, and the effects this has on their professional identity. They employ the concept or metaphor of ‘bruising’ to describe male experiences in the profession which confront their established identities or views of themselves, and isolate and interrogate the meaning of these encounters for the trainee male primary teachers in the study. The article highlights the stories of four male primary teachers and their ‘bruising’ encounters, and concludes that teacher training courses should alert both male and female trainees to the gendered nature of primary school teaching, with the aim of preparing them to deal with the challenges, contradictions and proscriptive nature of the primary teaching profession.
Subject HeadingsMale teachers
Teaching and learning
Leaving school in Australia: early career and labour market outcomes
Number 9, July 2005; Pages 1–6
This briefing from the Australian Council of Educational Research considers two longitudinal studies which examined the post-school pathways of young people between the period 1996–2000. The studies found that while 38 per cent of students enter university and, by and large, continue through their courses, the picture was more complex for those who did not study at tertiary level – the Year 12 completers and non-completers – with Year 12 non-completers less likely than Year 12 completers to be in full-time employment or enrolled in TAFE courses, and more likely to be unemployed or not looking for work. It was also found that there was a strong correlation between young people who had sound literacy and numeracy skills and employment. In regards to post-school qualifications, the research found that tertiary qualifications and full-time work were positively related in people 25-years-old and above, whereas, in general, post-school qualifications did not ‘decrease the risk of unemployment’ for those in their early twenties. By age 25, the employment gap between Year 12 non-completers and completers had decreased, as had the proportion of that age group in part-time work. The briefing concludes that young people who are able to secure full-time employment soon after leaving school are more likely to stay in full-time employment, and that remaining or attaining a post-school qualification will have an advantageous effect on a young person’s post-school pathway.
Whatever happened to lifelong learning
Volume 35 Number 2, July 2005; Pages 16–18
‘Lifelong learning’, according to Buchanan, is a malleable concept which has different meanings for different interest groups and policy makers in the education and training sector. Traditionally, for educators, the concept has meant developing individuals’ understandings, skills, knowledge and capacities beyond the immediate needs of their employment. To industry, however, it has meant concentrating in a more focused and deliberate way on training and upgrading skills for particular employment needs. This article asserts that this second, narrower focus, is the result of an inadequate grasp of the realities of the labour market and the changing production system in modern economies, as, increasingly, there is a requirement for workers to participate in learning that goes beyond their immediate workplace needs, and which takes into account the changing nature of industry sectors and the economy generally. In order to take this longer-term, wider view of education and training, Buchanan urges the adoption of the concept of ‘workforce development’, as it carries with it the notion of developing individuals to participate more effectively in the workforce, as opposed to a particular workplace, and it also implies that jobs should be developed to employ workers' higher order thinking and skills.
Subject HeadingsVocational education and training
VET (Vocational Education and Training)
Education aims and objectives
Academic Care: from research to reality
Volume 35 Number 2, July 2005; Pages 30–32
The notion of ‘Academic Care’ arose out of the Community Change Project conducted in New South Wales (NSW) Schools, and from the Association of Independent Schools NSW Pastoral Care Conference held in May 2004. Academic Care focuses on fostering the emotional and psychological wellbeing of students through the academic and curriculum structures of the school. In other words, classroom teachers are encouraged to implement the pastoral capability of their repertoire through pedagogical practices and the curriculum, by creating classroom environments which build resilience and students’ self-esteem and thereby ensuring the wellbeing of students. The article identifies specific teaching practices which enhance student resilience and wellbeing, and it explains the educational psychology theories, including the theory of risk and goal orientation, which underpin practice in this area of pastoral care.
Subject HeadingsMental Health
Assessing group work
Volume 35 Number 2, July 2005; Pages 13–14
Many State and Territory curriculum documents, particularly those based on the Essential Learning Frameworks, stipulate student outcomes which can only be acquired or discerned during pedagogical practices which involve group work. Assessing group work, however, poses particular problems for teachers, as it is often unclear what should be assessed – the process or the product – how it should be assessed and at what stage of the task it should be assessed. There is also the question of fairness to individual students, as it is often difficult to discern the contribution of individual students to the process and the product. Acknowledging the difficulties in assessing group work, Forster assists teachers to identify the specific outcomes that they intend to assess in the process of group work and the creation of the product, demonstrates how weighting various parts of the assessment can produce fairness for students, and outlines assessment strategies for group assessment.
Social justice in the classroom
Volume 63 Number 1, September 2005; Pages 48–52
Teachers’ valuing of students’ perspectives and beliefs means accepting that these may differ from their own, and it entails making a space for these beliefs and values in the curriculum. Too often, the authors assert, students’ perspectives are graciously ignored, placated or transposed into something that either fits the stated curriculum or the teacher’s values framework. Ignoring or transposing students’ points of view and contributions is antithetical to constructivist pedagogies, but, worse still, it can severely inhibit the social justice basis of education. Teachers should see the dissonance that the conflict between the accepted curriculum and students' perspectives provides as teachable moments, and should endeavour to help students explore their ideas instead of being dismissive of them. In this way, students will understand that their diverse perspectives, indeed their very diversity, is valued and is not an aspect of their being that they should shun or disguise in the classroom.
Back to whole
Volume 63 Number 1, September 2005; Pages 14–18
Eisner considers the historical and ideological forces which influence conceptions of schooling, claiming that the current narrow view of schooling is a result of ‘technical rationality’, an obsession with models of productivity, predictability and control that is a legacy of the industrial revolution. Measurement, comparative analyses of outcomes and standards, are manifestations of this ethic, which has captured the imagination of those in control of school reform and improvement. This narrow view of schooling and education, however, standardises the delivery of education, and treats the product – students – in a similarly uniform way as it ignores the range of intellectual, social and emotional differences between students. Transcending this model of schooling entails adopting a whole-child approach to education, one that seeks to engage students emotionally and socially, and not just intellectually. This can be achieved through recognising and catering to students’ individual talents, reducing the emphasis on the ‘narrowly cognitive’ and focusing on the social and emotional, using assessment as an aid to better understand young people as opposed to mere measurement of achievement, and using the arts in a much more deliberate way to marry cognition and emotion.
Subject HeadingsEducation research
Education aims and objectives
What does it mean to educate the whole child?
Volume 63 Number 1, September 2005; Pages 8–13
Noddings questions the narrow emphasis of policy makers in the United States in regards to educational outcomes by asserting that it is not sufficient for students just to be proficient in academic skills and educated for employment. Students need to be prepared more broadly to enable them to participate in democratic societies and to have meaningful social existences, and this needs to be reflected in education policy, curriculum, pedagogy and learning outcomes that seek to approach the education of young people in a holistic, instead of a narrowly compartmentalised, way. Noddings surveys historical approaches to holistic education from Thomas Jefferson to John Dewey, and to the more recent progressive education movement, and highlights how the education of young people can be approached in a more holistic fashion in the existing, crowded curriculum.
Subject HeadingsEducation policy
Education aims and objectives
Virtual practice creates new skills
The Le@rning Federation (TLF) has created a set of learning objects designed to foster creative, aesthetic and critical skills used in the media, music and visual arts technologies. Using the Sonic series of learning objects, students can compose music and explore the use of video and images. As they create, the students are prompted with questions intended to capture their thinking and to help them evaluate their work as it progresses. Another set of learning objects challenge students to take up entrepreneurial roles. The Buds series of learning objects put students into the role of small business operators, with opportunities to sell their product and make innovations. It emphasises visual content over text. Buds has been trialled with Year 7 students in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, with positive results. The level 1 version of Buds has been trialled by Prep and Year 1 students in a Victorian primary school, where the emphasis on visual material encouraged involvement of preliterate children. It helped the children grasp the concepts of value, cost, price variation and consumer choice, in a way that usefully supplemented existing units on enterprise education.
Subject HeadingsTeaching and learning
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Arts in education
You don't bring me flowers anymore: a fresh look at the vexed issue of teacher status
Volume 49 Number 2, 2005; Pages 182–196
Teachers consistently underestimate how well the public think of them, according to evidence from surveys of teachers and from public opinion polls. A recent study has sought reasons for the discrepancy. The author interviewed eight teachers working at government, Catholic or Independent schools across metropolitan Melbourne. A range of structural factors were found to contribute to teachers’ negative view of their status. Teachers have difficulty in defining or measuring their impact on students, whose results do not always match the effort that teachers have put in. Classroom teaching separates them from one another, and this isolation is reinforced by strong privacy norms. They face role conflicts between pastoral care and classroom management, and between teaching and administrative duties. They can be unduly self-critical as a result of the responsibility they feel for their students and open-endedness of their work. They can feel that the emotionally intense efforts they make for students are invisible others. A number of contextual factors also reinforce teachers’ poor view of their status. Workload and accountability pressures are growing. Schools are expected to deal with a widening range of social problems. Fear of unemployment drives more students to stay at school unwillingly, and they may doubt that study will lead to a job, which creates tensions between teachers, students and parents. A more critical and individualistic climate is leading parents to demand highly customised care for their child. Teachers feel pressure to be entertaining as they try to compete with 'the lure of interactive media’. Several conclusions emerge. Calls for a publicity campaign to promote the value of teaching are largely misplaced, since the public already value teachers, although such a campaign might reassure teachers themselves. Collaborative teaching may improve teachers’ view of their skills and contribution to students. Further studies should be undertaken to measure the relative impact of different factors on teachers’ perceptions of the profession.
Number 162, September 2005; Pages 9–11
School staff are working longer hours, working more intensely, and carrying out more non-teaching duties. Research in Britain in 2004 indicated that primary school teachers work almost 54 hours per week, and secondary teachers almost 58 hours. In Britain the Transforming School Workforce Pathfinder Project sought ways to reduce teacher working hours on tasks not directly related to teaching. The project, by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), was run at 32 schools with a further nine ‘comparator’ schools participating. The project reduced average working hours of primary teachers by 3.7 hours and secondary teachers by 1.2 hours per week, and reduced the time that teachers and principals spent on non-core tasks. The results were achieved by providing schools with workforce advisors, funding additional support staff, providing extra ICT, and funding bursarial training of school managers. In 2004, members of the Queensland Independent Education Union (QIEU) prepared a plan to address problems raised by work intensification. The plan included a number of points. New duties should only be added after meaningful consultation with the staff affected. The parameters of any new workload need to be established prior to implementation. When new priorities are established there should be an explicit understanding of which tasks are to have lower priorities. Resources to implement new duties are needed, such as time release, training, and new equipment. Support staff are also needed, particularly for special needs students. Family friendly policies are required, such as job sharing, protecting release time and after-school time from work demands, having part time positions, career break schemes, parental and family leave, flexible work practices and leave without pay.
Subject HeadingsWorking hours
Indigenous students' experiences of Vocational Education and Training in Schools programs: insights for developing good practice
In 2003 the Hands on the Future research project investigated the quality of VET provision for Indigenous students. The researchers analysed data from Young Visions, a national survey of 20,000 students in Years 10–12 which had previously found that the participation rate of Indigenous students in VET in Schools (VETIS) was almost twice that of other students. The Hands on the Future study examined 21 schools covering all States and Territories, and varying in location, school type, size, and degree of Indigenous participation. The two studies produced a range of findings: about three-quarters of all students participating in VETIS were attracted to it because it was seen as practical rather than academic; the figure was greater for boys in general and for Indigenous boys; Indigenous students were four times as likely as others to take up School Based New Apprenticeships. Implementation of VETIS for Indigenous students was found to be most successful when it addressed several key needs. Programs need to meet individual students’ needs through many forms of timely and informal support and be sensitive to students' fears of being singled out for special attention. A supportive school environment should affirm Indigenous cultural identity and values. The presence of Indigenous staff in positions of leadership, teaching and support is helpful. Curriculum should be engaging and relevant with course content and assessment based on practical tasks that build on students’ strengths. School programs should be linked to those of other schools or other providers such as TAFEs so as to offer more programs and allow wider social connections. There should be strong links with the community and local businesses. While VETIS has been very valuable for Indigenous students, it is important that high-achieving Indigenous students are not counselled towards the perceived ‘corrugated iron ceiling’ of VET in preference to academic courses. It is also important to address Indigenous students’ disaffection with schooling well before Years 11 and 12.
Subject HeadingsEducational evaluation
VET (Vocational Education and Training)