Australian secondary schools most in need of new information technology are now able to apply to the Australian Government's $1 billion National Secondary School Computer Fund. The Government's initial audit of Australia’s secondary schools identified 295,972 students in the 937 secondary schools as benefitting from the first round offer. Seventy per cent of the students attended state Government schools, 20 per cent attended Catholic schools and 10 per cent attended independent schools. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has written to the 937 schools and invited them to apply for funding in the first round to increase their computer to student ratio. The audit was completed with state and territory Education Departments, the Associations of Independent Schools and the Catholic Education Offices. Applications for Round One close on 4 April 2008. Applications for Round Two will be open to all Australian secondary schools from July 2008. Further information about the National Secondary School Computer Fund can be found at: www.digitaleducationrevolution.gov.au. See media release 5 March 2008 from the Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard. For commentary on the announcement see the article in The Age 5 March 2008, as well as the report 5 March 2008 and subsequent report 6 March 2008 in The Australian.
An article in The Australian 29 February 2008 reports a range of comments from National Curriculum Board chairman Barry McGaw concerning planning for the new curriculum. Topics covered include coordination among Australian education systems, assessment and performance benchmarks, and the place of literature in the English subject curriculum.
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A survey of over 1,700 new teachers in government schools has been conducted by the Australian Education Union (AEU). Almost half the participants indicated that they did not expect to be in the profession in ten years time. Participants ranked workload, pay, behaviour management and class sizes as their top four concerns. See AEU media release, article in The Australian and commentary in The Age, all 4 March 2008.
The new OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) will focus on the learning environment and working conditions of teachers in schools. The survey is being conducted in 24 countries including Australia. It is addressed to teachers and school principals in lower secondary schools, and will cover issues including the leadership and management of schools, the appraisal of teachers' work and the feedback they receive, and the characteristics of individual countries with regard to teaching practices, activities, beliefs and attitudes.
Tasmania's Minister for Education and Skills, David Bartlett, has undertaken to release a full report on school performance in the State each year, declaring that 'it will be the most comprehensive suite of data ever released on school performance in Tasmania, and probably any Australian state'. See Minister's media release 28 February 2008. For a response from Tasmania's Council of State School Parents and Friends see report on ABC News 29 February 2008.
Every Tasmanian Government school student is to receive a personal literacy plan in a bid to boost standards. See article in The Mercury 23 February 2008. The State Government has also appointed literacy expert Carol Christensen to prepare a plan to address the literacy needs of Tasmanian children, according to a subsequent report in The Mercury 5 March 2008.
The Australian Government's pledge to provide computers to students in Years 9 to 12 will generate a need for further funding to cover teacher training and infrastructure, according to a report in The Age 29 February 2008.
Industrial campaigns by Victorian teachers in the Government and Catholic sectors for higher wages, lower class sizes and better working conditions are described in an article 3 March 2008 in The Age. See also recent statements from the AEU Victorian branch and statement from the Victorian Independent Education Union (VIEU). For coverage of Western Australia see media statement 1 March 2008 from State Education Minister, Mark McGowan. The statement includes a link to a pdf document, 'table of Teacher Salaries Interstate Comparisons February 2008'. See also article in The Australian 3 March 2008 and recent commentary from the State School Teachers Union.
A survey of 2,000 British adults has revealed that many British adults have trouble with basic maths calculations. More than half of mothers also said they were not confident helping their children with maths homework, and 47 per cent of those surveyed wished they had done more maths at school. The survey was part of a government initiative to enhance children's numeracy. See article in The Australian, 4 March 2008.
A new Australian Government program will teach students to identify and protect themselves against online threats, according to an article in The Australian 5 March 2008. The program will address the copyright issues involved in sharing software, music and movies. It will also include e-security education modules for students in Years 3 and 9 addressing key aspects of safe online behaviour, as well as the use of appropriate computer defence systems.
A proposal for trainee teachers to undertake an additional year of on-the-job training is one suggestion being considered by the New Zealand Ministry of Education. It follows an extensive eight-month review that has raised concerns over the competence of teaching graduates. See article in The New Zealand Herald 3 March 2008.
An episode of the All in the Mind program on the ABC's Radio National has discussed how nature and green space affect the human psyche, with measurable impacts on academic performance and ADHD, among other effects. One expert discusses her research on the positive effect of green space in school playgrounds.