The Prime Minister and Australian Government Minister for Education have announced the creation of a National Curriculum Board to oversee the development of a national curriculum for all Australian students from kindergarten to Year 12, starting with the key learning areas of English, mathematics, the sciences and history. The Board will be established by 1 January 2009. The new National Curriculum Board will comprise representatives from each of the states and territories, and three representatives from the Catholic and Independent sectors. The Government has appointed Professor Barry McGaw as Chair of the Board. Professor McGaw is currently the Director of the University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Educational Research Institute, and formerly Director of Education in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development based in Paris. See Ministerial media release and transcript of press conference, both 30 January 2008. See also report in The Age and article in the Courier Mail 30 January 2008, the subsequent report on Barry McGaw's comments regarding support for high-performing students, The Age 1 February 2008, and his comments regarding class sizes, Sunday Tasmanian (Mercury) 3 February 2008.
The Victorian Government is to introduce a kindergarten plan designed to improve the transition to primary school. Under the plan learning standards will be introduced into kindergartens, and preschool 'transition statements', will be provided to primary school teachers, describing a child's abilities and interests and any learning difficulties or development delays. See article in The Age 6 February 2008.
An article in The Australian 5 February 2008 reports that Government schools in New South Wales are to be permitted to hire their own teachers. Schools will advertise openly to fill vacancies or to ask the Education Department to appoint a teacher. See also media release by the Teachers Federation 5 February 2008, and commentary by Jennifer Buckingham in Online Opinion 6 February 2008.
From this year all Government Catholic and Independent schools in Queensland schools will begin to incorporate the State’s Essential Learnings curriculum for years 1–9. The Essential Learnings are a part of the Queensland Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting (QCAR) Framework, established in 2005 to improve student learning and increase comparability of assessment and reporting across all schools. The Essential Learnings specifies core learning requirements. For example, by the end of Year 5 students will have a knowledge of the British colonisation of Australia, including European exploration, proclamation of terra nullius, establishment of penal and free settlements and contact with Indigenous populations. In mathematics, students will be able to represent and compare data in two-way tables, pie charts and bar and line graphs by the time they complete Year 7. Schools retain the flexibility to organise their curriculum to meet their students' needs. The QCAR Framework will also incorporate the agreed national statements of learning which will provide a strong platform for national consistency of curriculum. Measures to support the introduction of Essential Learnings include professional development for teachers and materials to help schools implement the program. See media release by Premier Anna Bligh and Education and Training Minister Rod Welford, 29 Janurary 2008.
The United Nations has declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation (IYS). See details provided by the World Water Council, including descriptions of education initiatives designed to involve teachers, school children, students and communities.
A record thirteen new courses in the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) are on offer this year for Year 11 students. Education and Training Minister, Mark McGowan, said the new courses offered students opportunities in areas such as Marine and Maritime Technology, Outdoor Education, Career and Enterprise and Italian. See Minister's media release 5 February 2008. Details of all courses are available on the website of the State's Curriculum Council.
The Active After-school Communities (AASC) program is a national initiative that provides primary school-aged children with access to free, structured physical activity programs in the after-school timeslot of 3.00 pm to 5.30 pm. The program is designed to engage traditionally non-active children in structured physical activities and to build pathways with local community organisations, including sporting clubs. The Australian Sports Commission has carriage of the AASC program on behalf of the Australian Government. See report in the Sydney Morning Herald December 13, 2007.
The ACT Government has released a discussion paper, High Standards in ACT school education. The paper proposes a School Standards Authority that would see the Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS) be expanded so that it could establish and monitor educational standards from preschool to year 12. This would include teacher registration and could also cover curriculum frameworks, student achievement, standards registration of non-government schools and home education. See Chief Minister's media release and report on ABC News 4 February 2008.