Growing numbers of parents expect schools to teach their children basic social skills such as how to play, accept others and share, according to Sylvia Walton. Sylvia has just retired from 23 years as principal at Tintern Schools in Melbourne. She describes the trend as a major challenge facing educators across the government, Independent and Catholic sectors, warning that only the home environment can give children a fundamental sense of personal meaning and belonging and a 'capacity to work their way through their own difficulties'. See her interview in The Age: Education, 6 February 2006.
A study of children beginning their Prep year in Tasmania has found that those who have attended full-day kindergarten have higher literacy and numeracy skills than the ones who attend half-day sessions. The study of 884 children was run by Margaret Boardman of the Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania. See report in The Age: Education, 6 February 2006, p3.
A survey of 551 Victorian students in Years 10 and 11 has found that just over 50 per cent believe that 'Muslims behave strangely' and that, while 62 per cent believed that Christians were 'smart', only 38 per cent believed the same of Muslims. The preliminary findings of the survey have been publicised in a report in The Age, entitled 'Most pupils see Muslims as terrorists' (6 February 2006). The report states that two-fifths of the survey respondents considered Muslims 'unclean'. The research is being conducted by Abe Ata of the Institute for the Advancement of Research at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). For further information, contact the ACU's media centre.
As of this year, 16-year-olds in Western Australia must be at school, studying full-time at TAFE, in a traineeship or an apprenticeship, or employed in a job 'with genuine career prospects'. It is expected that 2,220 young people who would have been in danger of dropping out of school this year will remain in the education and training environment. The school leaving age will be raised to 17 in 2008. The State Government will employ an extra 280 staff as Youth Engagement and Participation (YEP) workers, to help tailor education and training programs to meet the needs of students who were likely to have dropped out this year. The Government is also offering an 'It Pays to Learn' allowance of between $200 and $400 to parents of students turning 16 and 17 years of age. See the Ministerial media statement, Start of the school year rings in major changes, by Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich, 1 February 2006.
As part of its Smart Classrooms initiative, the Queensland Government is to provide a further $30 million to its state schools for spending on information and communication technology (ICT). More than 1,300 state schools and state education centres will receive funds based on their student and computer numbers. The funding can be used for hardware and software, IT networks, innovative projects for students and professional development for teachers. The funds are in addition to the $56 million four-year Smart Classrooms investment announced by the Government in April last year. Thirty-five state schools are to share in $178,000 in Teacher ICT Pacesetters Grants for innovative projects that increase the use of technology in the Arts, HPE (Health and Physical Education) and LOTE (Languages other than English). See Education Minister Rod Welford's media release, $30 million technology boost for state schools, 1 February 2006 (access via Ministerial Media Statements search engine).
The New Zealand Government has announced that more people than ever are choosing a career in teaching and fewer people are exiting the profession. The Government has invested more than $52 million over the last three years to promote teaching as a highly rewarding career and to increase support and incentives available for teachers. Initiatives to increase teacher supply include: raising the starting salaries for primary and secondary teachers; providing training allowances, scholarships and student loan support; offering more non-contact time to allow for professional development throughout teachers’ careers; and offering salary incentives and payment of removal expenses to encourage teachers to work in disadvantaged areas. The Government is also offering relocation grants to encourage New Zealand-trained teachers working overseas to return and to encourage overseas teachers to move to New Zealand. See the Ministerial media release, 1 February 2006.
Submissions are sought from educators, school leaders and academics for the first online conference hosted by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) and Microsoft. The conference will run from 15 to 21 May 2006 and papers must be submitted by 10 April 2006. For further information on submissions, contact Ms Debra Brydon at email@example.com. See the conference website to register as a participant.
England's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has recommended that primary age pupils are taught keyboard skills to improve their competence in English and to make them 'flexible to the demands of work or study'. Some educationists have expressed concern that the constant use of computers could cut down on time spent on handwriting, a skill some children already struggle to master. See report from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and article from The Telegraph, 11 December 2005.
A database of England’s 11 million children has been created to facilitate communication between child welfare professionals and agencies. The database will list the professionals who hold information about a child and automatically match records when children move location. Access will be restricted to senior practitioners. Local authority children's departments will be responsible for data input, accuracy and currency. The database is due for completion by 2008. In response to data protection and privacy concerns, the database will not include case records or highlight children who are considered to be at risk. See article in the Education Guardian, 12 December 2005.