In a speech to the Centre for Independent Studies, Prime Minister John Howard has announced or restated his position on a range of issues. Topics covered in the speech include the literacy and numeracy vouchers for struggling students recently mentioned the Budget; support for the teaching of grammar; support for History and Geography as distinct subjects, and for a discipline-based approach to the curriculum; and greater powers for principals over school budgets and over appointments, terminations and transfers of staff. Other topics raised include student tests against literacy and numeracy benchmarks; performance pay for teachers; reporting of school-level information about bullying and discipline; and professional development summer schools for teachers. The Prime Minister indicated that, from 2009, Australian Government education funding to the States 'will be tied directly to quality reforms'. See also reports in The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, all 15 May 2007.
In New South Wales, the newly released 2007 English Language and Literacy Assessment (ELLA) statewide test results show that student literacy levels for boys and girls in Years 7 and 8 are at a record high. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students also recorded best ever results in overall literacy. More than 148,000 students sat the compulsory Year 7 ELLA tests and the voluntary Year 8 re-test. The OECD recently found that New South Wales students have the second highest levels of literacy in the world, behind only Finland. See Premier's media release 7 May 2007
Market reforms over the past 25 years have reduced the size and efficiency of schools serving poorer communities, according to research from Melbourne University Associate Professor of Education, Stephen Lamb. His report, School Reform and Inequality in Urban Australia, argues that inequality between schools has grown as a result of increased autonomy for schools, which has driven competition; greater allocations of public money to non-government schools; and school closures and mergers. See article in The Age 16 May 2007.
The Queensland Government has announced that $1.5 million will be committed in the upcoming State Budget to drive high-quality mathematics and numeracy programs in State schools. The programs will be aimed at improving teachers' knowledge in the field and creating opportunities in the curriculum for learning and applying numeracy. See media release, 16 May 2007 from Rod Welford, Queenland Minister for Education and Training.
Senior positions the South Australian government schools and preschools are to be opened to applicants from interstate, overseas and the private school system for the first time. State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has said that advertising for candidates outside the Department of Education and Children’s Services previously has been adopted 'only as a last resort measure'. The South Australian Primary Principals Association has supported the change. See Ministerial media release, 4 May 2007.
New Zealand's Ministry of Education invites feedback on the International Education Agenda 2007–2012 Discussion Document, which proposes an agenda for international education over the next 5–10 years. See article from the New Zealand Education Gazette, 7 May 2007.
MindMatters project awards have recently been made to individuals and schools recognising leadership in promoting the mental health and well-being of young people. This is the first year that the awards have been offered.
Queensland's Career Change Program provides grants of up to $50,000 to primary teachers who wish retrain for alternative professions. Applications are due by 25 May 2007.
The Asia Education Foundation invites Australian educators to join the Linking Latitudes India Conference and Fieldwork Program in New Delhi and Agra, 30 September - 4 October 2007. The conference aims to help educators learn how they can use studies of India to develop global citizenship and understanding amongst Australian students.
The national school curriculum in England and Wales should 'only outline the skills pupils need to acquire', and 'allow teachers to decide how to design lessons to deliver the targets', according to a news report on a proposal by Britain's Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). The union has called for a new national curriculum that will cover 'academic as well as creative skills, and develop political thinking and physical ability'. See article in the Education Guardian 10 May 2007
The Australian Education Union (AEU) is working on a proposal to reward staff with more money based on merit and professional standards after they reach the top of their salary scale, according to a report in The Age 14 May 2007.
In the Northern Territory the AEU has raised concerns for the safety of teachers in remote locations after a teacher in the Katherine region was allegedly stoned by students. See 'Teacher stoned in own home', Northern Territory News, 15 May 2007.
Plans for an Arabic-themed public school in New York have caused controversy and received widespread attention in the USA. The Department of Education has said the school would have a standard college preparatory curriculum, with separate Arabic language instruction. Principal Debbie Almontaser said she planned a curriculum that was not religion-based, but which would cover the historical contributions of Arab people to Western culture. See reports in Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Gothamist both 14 May, New York Times 5 May (free registration); and ABC News (US) 16 April, 2007.