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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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What's new

Australian broadband connections nears three million

More Australians than ever before are now taking advantage of broadband Internet access, according to Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. See news release and report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Major new languages project underway

The Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning in Practice (ILTLP) project is a national professional learning program, designed to develop languages teachers' knowledge and understanding of intercultural language teaching and learning. It has a particular focus on long-term planning and programming, including the assessment and reporting of student outcomes. The project directors Tony Liddicoat and Angela Scarino, from the University of South Australia ’s Research Centre for Languages and Cultures Education, will head a team that includes expertise from University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology and the Australian National University. The ILTLP project will support school-based research and development undertaken by languages teachers. The ILTLP will be conducted in all States and Territories in the 2007 school year. Priority will be given to meeting the specific needs of teachers of Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian and Japanese. Further details are available on the School Languages Programme page of the DEST website.

Action plan to lift achievement among Pacific Island students in NZ

New Zealand Education Minister Steve Maharey has launched an action plan aimed at lifting educational achievement among New Zealand’s 66,000 Pacific Island students. The New Zealand Government will invest an additional $4.8 million over the next four years, including funding to support literacy teaching, strengthen engagement with Pacific families and communities, develop resources to support teaching of Pacific languages and provide professional development for teachers. See media release, 7 June 2006.

Heavy costs in lowering school starting age

Lowering the starting age for children to attend primary school in Australia will cost the States hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a ‘secret’ report commissioned by education ministers (see article in The Australian, 22 June 2006). The benefits of lowering the starting age are expected to outweigh the costs by 2022. New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory would be most affected by the proposed changes. Meanwhile Prime Minister John Howard is pressing the States for specific plans to lift literacy and numeracy as one of several conditions for receiving Australian Government funding for a new wave of Federal–State reforms. See report in The Australian, 24 June 2006.

South Australian principals support new SACE

There is strong support for a new South Australian Certificate of Education among the State’s high school principals and leaders, according to feedback from over 360 school leaders from government, Catholic and independent schools attending a SACE forum in May. South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith says more than 80 per cent of forum participants supported a new SACE based on the principles, design concepts and features outlined in the SACE Review. More than 70 per cent of participants supported the majority of the review’s recommendations and gave valuable input to help identify those requiring further investigation. The forum evaluation indicated that 95 per cent of respondents agreed that their understanding of the review recommendations had increased as a result of the forum. The SACE Review Implementation Steering Committee, comprising heads of each school sector, will continue their work to investigate and consult on the review’s recommendations. See Ministerial media statement, 23 June 2006.

Soccer to promote racial harmony in Sydney's west

The new Refugee Youth Soccer Development Program aims to promote social cohesion and build racial harmony, and will begin in Liverpool, Parramatta, Auburn, Fairfield and Blacktown in Sydney’s west. Designed by the University of New South Wales, the program will offer coaching clinics, after school clubs and holiday camps for recently arrived refugees between ten and 25 years. See UNSW media release, 21 June 2006.

Digital design challenge

The annual Secondary Schools Digital Design Challenge will be hosted by the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (QCA) in Brisbane on 20 July. The competition requires student teams to conceptualise and design a product within three hours, in the categories of animation, junior animation, three-dimensional design, graphic design, web page design or architectural design. Students from the Brisbane area can compete at QCA, while students from other schools are invited to complete the challenge at their own school and submit entries via email. See Griffith University media release, 19 June 2006.

Call for delay to national testing of literacy and numeracy

New South Wales Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt has released a report recommending that the Australian Government’'s proposed new national testing regime for literacy and numeracy be delayed to ensure its quality. The report, by Professor George Cooney, is titled Review of Statewide Assessments in the Context of National Developments. National tests in literacy and numeracy in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are due to commence in 2007. See media release, 28 June 2006.

Draft NZ curriculum to be released

The New Zealand Ministry of Education is releasing the draft version of a new curriculum to New Zealand schools in term 3. A consultation process will be held during the second half of 2006, during which schools are invited to provide feedback on the content of the new curriculum. The draft will be in English, with the draft marautanga (Maori medium) version due out in 2007. Designed to enable schools to tailor learning for particular groups of students, the draft also emphasises five key competencies to help students in their learning and living and in contributing to the community. A focus on developing strong numeracy and literacy skills is maintained, while new aspects of the draft include learning languages and a closer alignment with the early childhood curriculum. For the first time, students have been consulted in the development of the draft. The final national curriculum is expected in mid 2007. See article in The New Zealand Education Gazette, 19 June 2006. See also New Zealand Curriculum Marautanga Project.

Amplification shouldn't be used in class

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has advised schools in the USA not to use sound-amplification systems in classrooms. Instead, the ASA suggests that acoustics should be improved through modifications to classroom design. See news release from United Press International, 15 June 2006.

Google launches new Shakespeare site

Google’s new Shakespeare site allows users to browse through the full texts of his 37 plays and search for key phrases. The site also offers links to related research, online groups, theatre performance videos and a literary field trip, where users search for satellite images and maps of London’s Globe Theatre. See article in USA Today, 14 June 2006.

Evolution to be studied 'critically' in South Carolina

South Carolina’s new teaching standards encourage biology teachers to ‘summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory’. ‘Critically analyze’ is viewed in some scientific circles as synonymous with teaching either creationism or intelligent design, according to a report in The State, 13 June 2006. The new standards take effect in August.

Huge protests by school students in Chile

In Chile, high school students have won major concessions from the government after leading the nation’s biggest demonstrations in more than 30 years. The students obtained an additional $192 million in government aid for public transportation and to make university entry exams free. The government is also introducing legislation to reform a law from the era of dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973–1990. The law put municipalities, which often lacked funds, in charge of public schools, widening the gap between public and private institutions. See News.com report, 10 June 2006 and article in The Christian Science Monitor, 14 June 2006.

Korean teachers protest at performance-based incentives

South Korea’s teachers and educational workers have protested against the introduction of performance-based incentives and other educational policies. See article in The Korea Times, 12 June 2006.

Free new database of educational scholarly materials

Connexions is a US site for collaboratively developing, freely sharing and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web. The Content Commons section contains educational materials for everyone from children to professionals, organised in small modules that are easily connected to larger courses. All content is free.