The South Australian Government is providing the State’s high schools with a new DVD that gives teachers techniques to tackle schoolyard bullying. Reducing Bullying: Evidence Based Strategies for Schools features seven short videos, capturing the voices of students, teachers, parents, experts and health professionals and providing anti-bullying information and strategies. Academics used questionnaires and focus groups to collect data from more than 1,400 secondary school students at five schools over a year and guide the contents of the DVD. It will complement a number of other State Government initiatives to tackle bullying in schools. See Ministerial media release, 21 February 2007.
The e2 initiative in New South Wales is a network that will expand curriculum opportunities at participating schools in the Central West of the State. The initiative unites Orange High, The Canobolas Rural Technology High, Anson Street School, Blayney High and Molong Central schools. The e2 will initially have its biggest impact on expanding the curriculum for senior students. The latest interactive technology will link each school, enabling students with more specialised interests to pursue courses that might otherwise not be offered at one individual school. Students will periodically come together to work face-to-face with their teachers. A shared timetable and flexible study options allow for the addition of 16 TAFE courses. See Departmental media release, 24 February 2007.
Planning is underway for the first of six new schools to be built in metropolitan Adelaide as part of the State Government’s $216 million Education Works plan. Three workshops are being planned for next month to allow governing councils and school leaders to discuss locations and programs for the proposed new schools. The schools will offer education and children’s services from birth, broader subject choices and specialist schools in areas including the arts, sport and special education. See Ministerial media release, 23 February 2007.
Subject choices for Queensland students in Years 11 and 12 will be re-structured after a review conducted by the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). The State Minister for Education and Training, Rod Welford, has said that there are currently more than 80 subjects available to senior students and this has resulted in a confusing and cluttered curriculum. He has said that some existing subjects are likely to be grouped into fields of study, rather than being available as stand-alone options. This will 'ensure students obtain a more comprehensive education in disciplines like science, the arts and business studies'. The QSA is to produce a draft report later this year for further public consultation with a view to subject changes being introduced in 2009. The review is being chaired by Professor John Dewar, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Griffith University. See Ministerial media release, 27 February 2007. The review follows extensive public consultation with parents, teachers, unions, universities and employer groups since the review began in 2005. See background information from the QSA.
There has been ongoing public discussion of a national approach to curriculum in Australia. See article and supplementary report in The Australian, 1 March 2007. See report and commentary, 1 March 2007, as well as update, 2 March 2007, in The Age. See also commentary in the Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 2007.
The latest Schools Australia report has been released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. See summary in The Age, 27 February 2007, which highlights the continuing drift in school enrolments from the government to the non-government school sectors, and notes differing public interpretations of the trend. See also report in The Australian, 27 February 2007, which summarises statistics on the movement of students between sectors. In a later commentary (The Age, 28 February 2007) Jack Keating proposes that a more fundamental issue than the drift between sectors is the growing concentration of disadvantaged students in small, under-resourced public schools. He notes that State governments have supported the pubic school sector partly by the introduction of ‘more selective measures including selective entry schools and programs’, but argues that this trend will ‘accelerate the social segregation’.
The Department of Employment, Education and Training in the Northern Territory has launched a Focus on Literacy project, which aims to improve the literacy levels of Territory children by promoting the value and joy of reading to the children and their families, schools and community. Three initiatives are underway for 2007, including a literacy kit for parents and the Chief Minister’s Literacy Achievement Awards. School visits by the Chief Minister, the Minister for Employment, Education and Training and other members of the Legislative Assembly are also planned. (See program outline for further information.)
Step to the Future is a national youth initiative organised by students that aims to inspire young people to pursue and achieve their goals. Two upcoming forums are expected to attract 800 Year 10–12 students from the Greater Western Sydney region. The first forum will be held in Blacktown on 2 March. A second forum, supported by the University of Western Sydney, will be held in Parramatta on 5 March. (See UWS media release.)
The Australian Government invites remote Indigenous communities to apply for funding under the new $36.6 million Backing Indigenous Ability telecommunications program. Regional agents are available to assist with applications and project implementation. Applications for the first round of funding will close 20 April 2007. Further information is available online or by phoning 1800 355 014. (See media release from Australian Government Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, 23 February 2007.)
The Victorian Government has banned student access to video-sharing websites such as YouTube in public schools, as a means of dealing with cyber bullying. See report in The Age, 2 March 2007.
The Department of Education, Science and Training is inviting tenders for a project to undertake a comprehensive mapping of current teacher professional learning activities across Australia in both the government and non-government education sectors.
Victorian Minister for Education, John Lenders has announced that all Government schools in the State will be required to send home A to E student report cards this year. The new reporting system has been revised in the basis of feedback from parents and schools. Preps will still receive report cards, but A to E rankings for these students will now be optional. An A rating now refers to students who were 12 months ahead of the standard expected at the time of reporting, rather than more than 12 months ahead. Instead of having one rating, Maths performance will now be rated in specific areas (space, number, measurement, chance and data, working mathematically and structure). See Ministerial media release, 22 February 2007.
Following the introduction of the Prep year in Queensland this year, Griffith University and Education Queensland have released The Early Years at Watson Road State School DVD. The teaching resource is designed to demonstrate excellence in early years teaching and highlight the connections between research and practice. (See report in Griffith News, 8 February 2007.)
Climate change will be included in the new curriculum for 11–14 year olds in England and Wales. The new curriculum is due to be published this year for use in schools from the beginning of 2008. Schools will receive an education pack including the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. New Zealand leaders have also expressed support for use of the book in schools. Climate change and global warming are not planned as explicit components of New Zealand's own new curriculum, but many schools are likely to integrate these topics into science and social science classes. See article from The Press (stuff.co.nz), 12 February 2007.