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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Primary Science Conference

Hosted by the Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria (STAV), the Primary Science Conference will be held at Darebin Arts Centre, Preston, 16–17 July 2006. Displays and a range of sessions will explore ways to engage students in science, local programs and resources for teaching science, science and VELS, new educational kits and ICT tools. Registration closes 7 July 2006.

'Safe' websites

A new range of ‘safe’ social networking websites have been designed to reduce the potential of students talking to predators or revealing personal information. The sites also aim to develop students’ online skills and develop safe online behaviours. The new sites are a response to concerns over the potential security risk posed by existing social networking websites such as MySpace, Friendster and Facebook. See article on eSchoolNews, 12 July 2006 (registration required).

Active after school communities (AASC) program

The Australian Sports Commission’s new Active After-School Communities (AASC) program promotes structured physical activity in after-school settings, and has been delivered nationally to primary schools and approved Out of School Hour Care Services (OSHCS). Released in 2005, the program has 1,400 participating schools and OSHCS, with a target of 3,250 participants by 2007.

ADHD medication 'ten times more likely' in poor areas: study

The Daily Telegraph in New South Wales reports a ‘vast disparity in the prescription of drugs for learning problems, based on socio-economic boundaries’. It states that children from poor areas of Sydney are ‘up to ten times more likely’ to be on ADHD medication than those in affluent areas. See ‘Alarming divide on the magic pill’, editorial, 13 June 2006. See also report in the Border Morning Mail, 14 June 2006 and abstract in this edition.

New professional body for primary teachers in South Australia

Launched in May 2006, The Primary Years Teaching Association of South Australia offers a forum for teachers to share teaching strategies and partake in professional development activities. Established by The Council of Education Associations of South Australia (CEASA), the Association focuses on Years 3 to 5. Email or phone (08 8370 5733) Bronwyn Hudson, deputy principal, Belair Primary School. 

Poorly performing teachers in Scotland threatened with sacking

In Scotland teachers will be given one year to improve their performance or face dismissal under plans being considered by the government. See report in the Scotsman, 17 June 2006.

Apprenticeships to be promoted by Australian Govt

Young people will be told that apprenticeships are just as valuable as university degrees in a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to be launched by the Federal Government next month. See report in the Courier Mail, 16 June 2006.

Mixed response to introduction of new A–E student report cards

New student report cards, initiated by the Australian Government, have now been issued to many school students. The reports grade students on an A–E scale and aim to describe student results in ‘plain English’. In most States students are also ranked into class quartiles. Each education system assigns its own meanings to the A–E grades. A survey by Sydney’s Catholic Education Office found that almost three-quarters of respondents supported the introduction of the reports. However, the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) has announced a campaign to inform parents of their right to refuse the new reports (see article in The Australian, 20 June 2006). The Victorian branch of ACSSO is calling for the new reports to be evaluated by parents (see updated article in The Australian, 21 June 2006). In Victoria all Catholic schools and approximately half the government schools have implemented the new grades for English and maths, before compulsory P–10 implementation commences for all subject areas next year. There have been complaints in the State that the descriptions are still not in ‘plain English’, with terms such as ‘higher order thinking’ not adequately explained to parents. Victorian principals and teachers have launched a campaign to make parents aware that a C grade represents performance at the expected level. See ‘Report cards given an F’ in the Herald Sun, 20 June 2006 and article in The Age, 18 June 2006. In South Australia an editorial in The Advertiser (21 June 2006) has alleged that opponents of the new cards fear the scrutiny that the student reports extend to schools and entire education systems. South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has written to Australian Government counterpart Julie Bishop asking for acceptance of an alternative five-point achievement grading, and has raised concerns about the introduction of the grades in the early years of schooling. The South Australian Education Committee, which includes representatives from parents’ clubs, principals’ associations and the AEU, has rejected the new reports for labelling students as failures (see ‘Self-esteem card’ in The Advertiser, 20 June 2006).

HPE de-emphasises sport in USA

Health and Physical Education in the USA is shifting emphasis from team sports towards 'keeping kids moving' and dicussion of topics such as nutrition, fitness and exercise safety, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, 15 June 2006.

Protests at school closures in ACT

The Australian Capital Territory has seen protests from schools marked for closure in the recent budget. See report on ABC online, June 14 2006.

Online group to promote games as pedagogy

The Education Network Australia (EdNA Online) has set up a Games as Pedagogy online discussion group. The group aims to facilitate and promote discussion in the Australian education and training community about the use of games in education.

Computers to mark high school English papers in NSW school trial

Year 11 students at St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney are to take part in a trial in which computers will mark their English assignments, examining grammar, punctuation, spelling and style. The e-assessment trial will be conducted next term. See report in the Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 2006.

Sydney school becomes a 'community facility'

In Sydney the independent school Cranbrook is now, following a court decision, a ‘community facility’. As such the school is now permitted to build a multimillion-dollar school complex on a former bowling club site. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 2006.

Increase in VET participation

Preliminary statistics show that more than 1.64 million students enrolled in the public VET system in 2005, an increase of 2.9 per cent or 46,000 students from 2004. Enrolments increased in all States and Territories except Victoria, which showed a decrease of 4.5 per cent. The largest recorded increases were 8.6 per cent in New South Wales and 8.2 per cent in the Northern Territory.