Australian ministers for education and training have issued a Communiqué arising from their joint meeting on 17 April 2008. The meeting endorsed reforms to enhance the quality of preservice education, the supply of teachers in specialised areas, the quality of entrants to the teaching profession, and the status of the profession. The meeting supported the provision of incentives and career structures capable of attracting and retaining quality teachers, including in the early years of employment. Ministers agreed to provide $400,000 for research to inform a national partnership about effective ways to reward quality teaching. Other decisions made by the meeting covered support for the Australian Government's Digital Education Revolution, further reform of VET, support for educational needs of low SES school communities, measures to reduce Indigenous education disadvantage, support for the Prime Minister’s recent proposals for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for early childhood services and support for the COAG commitment to provide all Australian children with access to a quality pre-school program. A link to the Communiqué is available via a media release from Julia Gillard, 17 April 2008. See also background article 16 April 2008 and commentary article 17 April 2008, both in The Age, and commentary in The Australian 18 April 2008.
The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has confirmed the membership of the new National Curriculum Board. A national curriculum for all Australian students from kindergarten to Year 12 is to be developed by 2010, starting with English, mathematics, the sciences and history, and underpinned by a renewed focus on literacy and numeracy. For further details, including a list of Board members, see media release from Julia Gillard, 15 April 2008. See also article in the Sydney Morning Herald 13 April 2008, describing support for a national curriculum from Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has proposed 'universal, high quality, affordable Parent and Child Centres for all 0–5-year-old Australian children'. See transcript of the Prime Minister's address to the Sydney Institute, 16 April 2008 and the transcript of his press conference 17 April 2008. See also article in The Age 17 April 2008.
The National Skills Policy Collaboration group has unveiled a 10-point plan calling for more support for teachers and trainers, to increase school and apprenticeship completion rates. The body was recently formed by the Australian Industry Group, the ACTU, the Australian Education Union, Group Training Australia and the Dusseldorp Skills Forum. See report on ABC News 16 April 2008 and article in The Age 17 April 2008.
The South Australian Government has employed 20 apprenticeship brokers for its School to Work program. The brokers are working with local industry and business to develop a range of opportunities for students that will give them a head start in their careers, particularly in areas of skills shortages. They are based at the lead schools, or Work Skills Centres, that form the hubs for the 10 Trade Schools for the Future network. The brokers will also support students in completing apprenticeships after they leave school and ensure contracts of training are fair and reasonable. All of the State’s high schools will be involved with their local trade school to maximise the number of student who can take up the high-tech skills opportunities on offer. (Adapted from article 'From school to work ... new brokers appointed' in Education News March–April 2008.)
As part of the lead-up to ANZAC Day 2008, a documentary on the dramatic story of Australia's AE2 submarine and her exploits in the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli campaign will be broadcast on free-to-air ABC1 television at 8.30 pm on Thursday 24 April 2008. The HMAS AE2 was the first Allied submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles in WW1 and the first RAN warship lost in action. Against all the odds, HMAS AE2 successfully entered the Dardanelles in April 1915 on the very morning the ANZACs landed at Anzac Cove. After five hectic days 'running amok' against Turkish defences in the Sea of Marmara, she finally fell to Turkish gunfire and was scuttled. Her crew was captured and spent the rest of the war as Turkish POWs. AE2 lay, unseen, until in 1998 she was discovered, intact, in 73 m of water. The documentary film includes original footage of the dive on the wreck in 2007, and dramatised re-enactments. The story of the AE2 is a recently rediscovered chapter of ANZAC history and the documentary will be of interest to all SOSE/history, civics, media, English teachers and subject/curriculum coordinators. Further information is available from the Submarine Institute of Australia website.
Teachers in Victoria, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia are planning or considering industrial action to be undertaken next month that would severely disrupt national testing. More than 1 million students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are scheduled to sit the exams May 13–15 in the first nationally consistent test in reading, writing and maths. See report 17 April 2008 and earlier report 14 April 2008, both in The Age.
Peter Black, an Associate Lecturer in Law, has written an article in Online Opinion 14 April 2008 on the nature of online privacy. He argues that we should all take responsibility for the ‘digital footprint’ of ourselves that we leave on the Web. We should monitor what is already available about us, and control our privacy settings on sites such as Facebook or MySpace. If we object to material already available about us online, we should ask the publisher to remove it, and if they do not, we should post messages about the material to provide suitable context. Changing generational attitudes towards privacy are also discussed.
Year 11 teachers in South Australia 'are being encouraged to make subjects easier for students to pass so their schools do not appear to perform poorly in comparison with others', according to an article in The Advertiser 17 April 2008.