Julia Gillard, the Australian Government Minister for Education, has given a speech at the recent Higher Education Summit in Sydney in which she discussed Government measures to address the issues of educational equity at university, school and pre-school levels; skills development in the workforce; and the disadvantages faced by Indigenous people. See transcript of Minister's speech 4 April 2008.
The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has welcomed applications by 843 schools to receive upgraded ICT access through the Secondary Schools Computer Fund. See transcript of Minister's interview, and transcript of doorstop interview, both published 7 April 2008.
The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, spoke at the recent AEI Industry Forum in Melbourne on the topic of international education. She described the value of international education for Australia in terms of spreading knowledge and skills, fostering cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, deepening business engagement and assisting the development of poor countries. She also discussed measures being undertaken by Australian governments to strengthen international education further. See transcript of Minister's speech 8 April 2008.
The Victorian Government has released discussion papers covering school reform and early childhood development for public comment. Feedback from the public consultation process, which will run until 16 May 2008, will help shape the State Government’s new education Blueprint, to be released later this year. Proposals for school reform include stronger interventions and more intensive monitoring in underperforming schools; monitoring and incentives to encourage improvements in adequately performing schools; and a scheme to encourage high-performing graduates from other fields to enter teaching. The Blueprint is modelled on Britain’s Teach First with incentives that include higher salaries for the best teachers and school leaders to work in high-need schools, and support for teachers who have become disengaged to leave the profession after appropriate opportunities and support have been provided to lift teaching practice. See media release by Education Minister Bronwyn Pike and Early Childhood Development Minister Maxine Morand, 7 April 2008. See also article 7 April 2008, futher report 8 April 2008 and subsequent article 10 April 2008, all in The Age.
Some educators have expressed concern at plans to build another two academically selective schools in Melbourne. See article in The Age 7 April 2008.
An article in the Sunday Age 6 April 2008 comments on Australian Government funding for schools run by the Exclusive Brethren religious community.
The South Australian Government has released its second discussion paper on legislative reform, inviting the community’s views about changes to the legislation that registers and regulates schools and children’s services in the State. Input is invited on topics that include governance arrangements for schools and preschools, and measures to reduce ‘red tape’ in educational administration. Written submissions will be received until 30 June 2008. See media release 2 April 2008 from State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith.
South Australian State schools now have online access to the literacy and numeracy test results of their students through a new electronic ‘data-mart’. The data-mart includes the Years 3, 5 and 7 literacy and numeracy test results for all students. From 2008 it will also include Year 9 results. Teachers can use these results to track the performance of their students and determine which particular areas need more attention. If a child moves schools their new teacher will have easy electronic access to their test results. Teachers can access detailed information on individual students’ answers to questions in the tests and see a copy of the student’s answer book. The data-mart will also allow schools to compare their results across years or across school districts to measure the achievements of their students against others in the district. The data-mart has built-in privacy and security features that allow schools to access only the results of students in their own schools, or those who sat the tests in their school. Five hundred teachers and principals have been trained in the software’s use, with further training to be offered in 2008. Training material is also available from the Education Department website. See media release from State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, 9 April 2008.
Ike Ellis, the New South Wales Department of Education's Director for Safety and Security, has denied claims that a 'gang culture' exists among sections of Sydney's youth. He said that incidents such as the recent attack on a Sydney high school are due to loose, informal groupings of young people rather than the entrenched, well-organised youth gangs operating in parts of the USA. Mr Ellis was previously a senior policeman in the State. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald 10 April 2008. See also report in The Australian 9 April 2008.
Some schools in New South Wales have been waiting more than 10 years for repairs, according to a recent survey conducted by the Public Schools Principals' Forum. See report on ABC News 7 April 2008.
A report in the Courier Mail 7 April 2008 expresses concerns about the 'escalating truancy epidemic' in Queensland, and states that hundreds of school-age children have not been enrolled.
Professor Helen Hughes has sharply criticised the quality of education available to Indigenous children in remote communities in the Northern Territory. See her article, and the accompanying article by Sian Powell, in The Australian 7 April 2008.