Stress and the working parent
The Teachers as Parents program, part of the Triple P positive parenting program, aims to reduce teacher stress. Teachers in selected Brisbane schools can complete an eight-week course or an intensive two-day session free of charge, and will be observed in the classroom and at home to measure the program's effects. Besides managing parental responsibilities as a teacher, the program will cover ways to deal with stress and problem behaviour. The Triple P positive parenting program was developed by Mat Sanders from the University of Queensland over 25 years ago and operates in 18 countries. See article in Education Review 15 February 2006 p 11.
New research trust launched in New Zealand
A major new source of funding for education research in New Zealand has been officially launched by the Minister of Education, Steve Maharey. The Cognition Education Research Trust is expected to become one of the country’s most significant sources of non-governmental funding in the field of education research. See media release 21 February 2006 by the Cognition Education Research Trust (scoop.co.nz).
Campaign to boost school attendance in Victoria
Every Victorian state school is to take part in a $1.9 million Victorian Government campaign to increase attendance and highlight the impact on students of missing school. Education and Training Minister Lynne Kosky recently launched the It’s Not OK to Be Away initiative, which focuses on the educational consequences of missing days at school. The two-year campaign was officially lauched as part of the first annual Student Attendance Awareness Week (20–26 February). Ms Kosky said that as part of the initiative schools would be encouraged to raise awareness in the community of attendance issues and to reduce the level of absenteeism. See Ministerial medeia release 20 February 2005.
South Australia increases funds to ethnic schools
South Australia’s ethnic schools are receiving more funds this year as part of funding increases approved by the State Government in November 2005. Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has said that State and Commonwealth per capita funding to ethnic schools has increased by $11 this year. See Ministerial media release 18 February 2006.
Retention program to be expanded in South Australia
In South Austalia, an intensive program designed to help senior secondary students complete their studies will be expanded this year. The program was introduced in 2005 and supported 816 Year 12 students in 57 state high schools with subject tutoring, mentoring, counselling and support for personal, health and family issues. This year it will be extended to Year 11 students. See Ministerial media release 20 February 2006.
Graduate recruitment program in Tasmania producing results
A graduate recruitment program for new teachers is encouraging Tasmania's top education students to work in high need rural and remote areas of the State, rather than seeking jobs interstate or overseas. The program provides financial incentives and guarantees a permanent teaching position, pending probation. Education Minister Paula Wriedt today announced that 21 of the State’s top education students will begin teaching in government schools this year as part of the program. See Ministerial media release 16 February 2006.
Sustainable Schools Initiative extended in Western Australia
Another 100 schools in Western Australia are to take part in the State's Sustainable Schools Initiative in 2006. The expansion follows the successful trial of the initiative in 20 schools last year. See report in School Matters 10 February 2006 p7.
Defence Minister criticises schools
Australian Government Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has accused teachers and guidance counsellors of discouraging school students from exploring careers in the defence forces. He has described 'a culture in Australia ... at schools in careers advice and at teacher level' leading to children being 'actively discouraged' from military careers. See report in The Advertiser 17 February 2006.
Responses to National Review of School Music
The National Review of School Music, released last November, has generated a range of responses, reported in two articles in the Education Review. The review found that music teaching practice is 'inconsistent and inequitable'; that 10 per cent of schools offer no music education; that one-third of schools struggled to find trained music teachers; and that two-thirds of schools described the quality of music education as variable to poor. It called for the urgent introduction of music-specific professional development for generalist teachers, particularly those working with primary and middle years students. Julie Montague, national president of the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME), has urged that reforms commence around relatively low-cost issues, such as establishing sequential music education in schools, while the complexities of federal and state funding arrangements are resolved. The Australian Government has called a summit to deal with music education and has asked Teaching Australia to consider the report in its deliberations on teacher training courses. See 'Music to our ears, but what happens next?' and 'Teachers are the key', in the Education Review (Campus Review supplement) 15 February 2006 pp 6, 7.
Debate continues around the teaching of reading
The Education Review has reported on continued debates surrounding the teaching of reading, following the publication of the report Teaching Reading in December last year. The report was produced by the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (NITL), chaired by Dr Ken Rowe, also director of the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER). Teaching Reading called for the systematic teaching of phonics in the early years of schooling. Karren Philp, president of the Australian Association for the Teaching of Reading (AATE), has expressed concern that the report describes the nature of reading too narrowly in terms of decoding. Dr Jan Turbill, president of the Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA), had said that the report’s recommendations ‘can become very supportive of what can happen in the teaching of reading and the teaching of writing, or they could be toxic if taken in a very narrow way’. A number of State and Territory education ministers have argued that Teaching Reading reflects the approach that their education systems are already taking. These claims have been vigorously disputed by Dr Rowe. See ‘Stirring up a hornet’s nest – literacy tiff awaits new minister’, Education Review (Campus Review supplement) 15 February 2006 pp1, 4.
Treasurer speaks out on migrants and Australian values
Australian Treasurer Peter Costello has criticised 'mushy misguided multiculturalism', warning that Australian values are 'not optional' and that migrants who do not share them should lose their citizenship. See 'Our values or go home: Costello' in The Age 24 February 2006 and 'Costello urges migrant loyalty' in The Australian 24 February 2006.