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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Celebrating Democracy Week 2007: being a responsible citizen

Schools are invited to take part in Celebrating Democracy Week activities, from 15 to 21 August 2007. Schools may also apply for grants of up to $1000 ($3000 for school clusters of 3 or more) for their own civics and citizenship education activities. Four Year 10–11 students from each State and Territory will also be awarded funding to attend the Every Voice Counts! Student Forum, to be held in Canberra, 15–17 August 2007. Applications for both initiatives are due by 25 July 2007.

Girls ahead in NSW numeracy scores

Girls are recording slightly better averages in most areas than boys on Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program (SNAP) tests in New South Wales. In the Year 7 and 8 tests, boys performed slightly better in measurement but girls recorded higher averages in numeracy, number, space and data. The SNAP tested about 144,000 students in Year 7 across the State in all government and Catholic schools, and a high proportion of Independent schools. About 98 per cent of government school students in Year 8 also sat the test. See article in The Australian 29 June 2007.

Science and maths master class initiative for NSW public schools

NSW Minister for Education and Training, John Della Bosca, has announced a science and maths master class initiative, featuring Australia's leading scientists and mathematicians, for public school students throughout the State. The initiative will be backed by a new website and will utilise the State's connected classrooms initiative to involve students in remote locations. The new website, tentatively titled Science Talk, will complement National Science Week, which runs from 18–26 August, 2007. See media release from DET NSW, 7 July 2007.

Curriculum Corporation Conference: 21st Century Curriculum – Taking Bearings

Registrations are now open for Curriculum Corporation's 14th Annual Conference, 21st Century Curriculum: Taking Bearings. The conference will be held 12 and 13 November 2007, at the Hilton Sydney. It will include discussion of globalisation, the evolution of advanced technologies and greater national consistency in the curriculum.

Many US teachers 'dubious of merit pay'

In the USA calls for merit-based pay are gaining ground at state and federal level. Members of Congress are considering adding funding bonuses for teachers who raise student achievement as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, up for review this year. However, members of the NEA, the nation's largest teachers union, have expressed concern that educators in struggling schools, where students might be poor or speak another language at home, would have trouble getting their student scores up enough to earn the 'effective' label. See article in The Washington Post, 4 July 2007.

WA teachers union critical of A–E grades

Western Australia's State School Teachers Union has said that teachers are struggling to meet the conflicting demands of the five-tier marking system demanded  by the Australian Government as a condition for receiving federal education funding. See report on ABC News, 2 July 2007.

Toddlers learn new language, culture in US day care

The Washington Post reports on a surge of local interest in foreign language learning by pre-school age children in the Washington DC region, where large numbers of foreign-born care providers enable many parents to begin their children's knowledge of a second or third language. See article 24 June 2007.

US trials the tracking of individual students' progress on tests

Growing numbers of school districts in the USA are assessing student progress using a 'growth model' that tracks the progress of individual students rather than whole grades as they move up year levels. However, as the use of growth models becomes more widespread, some teachers and parents have complained that these models are hard to understand and place too much focus on test scores. See article in The New York Times, 6 July 2007.

Victorian independent schools compete for students

An article in The Age, 24 June 2007, describes competiton for students among independent schools in Victoria, some of which are introducing coeducation for the first time.

Call to hold parents accountable for severe school bullying in WA

The West Australian Council of State School Organisations (WACSSO) has said that the parents of five boys accused of kidnapping, assaulting and threatening to kill a 13-year-old should be held accountable for their children's actions. See article in ABC News, 5 July 2007.

Video games 'rob reading, homework time': US study

Boys who play video games on school days spend 30 per cent less time reading, and girls spend 34 per cent less time doing homework than those who do not play such games, according to recent research in the USA. However, video games do not appear to interfere significantly with time spent with family and friends. The study comes as US doctors voice growing concern about the long-term effects of video games. See report on canada.com 5 July 2007. 

SA Government rules out workers compensation cost for schools

Premier Mike Rann and Minister for Education and Children’s Services Jane Lomax-Smith have said that the State Government has decided against imposing a cost on schools for workers compensation claims. Their decision comes after listening to the concerns of teachers and parents. However, they remain committed to reducing the number of staff claims for workers compensation in schools, and have expressed a wish for 'greater local responsibility being taken by school principals in administering the scheme'. See Ministerial media release, 27 June 2007.

Schools 'say no to chaplains' in NSW

New South Wales' schools have 'shunned' the Australian Government's school chaplaincy plan, according to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald (Sun–Herald) 1 July 2007. Only 167 of the 1,392 grants that have been approved to fund a chaplain have been given to New South Wales' schools, a figure lower than that for Australia's other major States.

Study: fathers shape daughters' interest in math, science

Fathers have a major impact on the degree of interest their daughters develop in maths, according to the findings of a long-term University of Michigan study that has examined the continuing gender gap in math and science performance. See University of Michigan media release 12 June 2007 and commentary in ScienceDaily, 25 June 2007.

Nutrition education 'ineffective' in USA

A review commissioned by the Associated Press in the USA has examined 57 scientific studies of nutritional programs for children. The review found 'mostly failure'. Only four programs appear to have had any significant success in changing children's eating patterns. See article in USA Today, 4 July 2007.

Financial literacy in UK curriculum

Changes to the national curriculum for England and Wales will encourage schools to teach children about tax, interest rates and personal budgeting. Ed Balls, the new Secretary for Children, Families and Schools, has said that young people needed to understand everyday issues, such as opening a bank account, buying a house and 'saving for retirement as early as possible'. Many educationalists, however, believe the national curriculum is already overloaded with compulsory elements. Alan Johnson, Mr Ball’s predecessor, recently added a raft of new subjects including the study of the slave trade and global warming. See article in Financial Times, 8 July 2007.

New UK Prime Minister calls for more ability grouping by subject

Britain's new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has called for a renewed focus on teaching in 'sets', or ability grouping by subject, in English, maths, science and languages.See article in The Daily Mail, 21 June 2007.  

New sex education pilot uses peer educators

The Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) is trialling the use of peer educators in a sex education program running in secondary schools in Melbourne's North. Year 12 students have been selected and trained to help educate Year 10 students about issues of choice and consent. (See article in Education Times, 28 June 2007, p6.)