COAG establishes National Curriculum Board and sets further goals for early years Indigenous education
On 2 October, a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the establishment of the National Curriculum Board as a statutory authority under Commonwealth legislation accountable to all Australian governments and welcomed the expansion of its role, which, for the first time, brings together the functions of national curriculum, assessment and data management, analysis and reporting at a national level. Following consultation with the States and Territories, the Commonwealth legislation will be introduced as soon as possible to establish the authority in 2009. The meeting also agreed on joint work to improve the early childhood outcomes of Indigenous children. Adapted from the COAG Communiqué 2 October 2008. See report in The Age 2 October 2008.
A consortium of early childhood experts led by Charles Sturt University (CSU) is to develop the national Early Years Learning Framework. Designed to improve outcomes and opportunities for young children, the Framework will recognise the importance of play-based learning, communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) to emotional and social development from birth to school age. See media release from Australian Government Education Minister Julia Gillard, 2 October 2008, and also media release from Charles Sturt University, 3 October 2008.
This week there has been widespread reporting and discussion of issues surrounding photographer Bill Henson's visit to a primary school in Victoria. See, for example, the commentary in the Herald Sun 8 October 2008; the article, commentary and editorial in The Age 7 October 2008; and a related report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 7 October 2008.
The Australian Government's school chaplaincy program has been criticised by commentator Jane Caro for associating values education too closely with religious perspectives, and unduly privileging these views. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald 22 September 2008.
The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has announced the delivery of an additional $4.8 million to help close the gap in literacy and numeracy levels between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students over the next decade. See the Minister's media release 8 October 2008.
An article in the Schools section of The Australian 9 October 2008 reports on a controversy over whether the deaths of Indigenous Australians since European settlement should be described as genocide. The disagreement involved Senator Brett Mason and Andrew Blair, National President of the Australian Secondary Principals Association.
Researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU) are working with Indigenous communities to identify and nurture Indigenous ‘champions’ in remote areas. The champions would bring detailed knowledge of their community, and work through traditional governance arrangements at the family and group level, to improve educational results. See CDU media release 17 September 2008.
The Victorian Government is establishing four new Koorie Pathway Schools, targeted primarily at students in Years 7-10, to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The initiative is part of a statewide strategy to revitalise schools operating under the Victorian College of Koorie Education (VCOKE) and improve education outcomes for all Victorian Koorie (Indigenous) students. See Ministerial media release 18 September 2008.
Victorian Catholic schools are to receive an additional $39 million in funding from the State Government. See article in the Herald Sun and report in The Age, both 6 October 2008. The additional funding follows pay rises won by teachers in the Victorian Catholic sector last month. See report in The Age 22 September 2008.
Queensland Education and Training Minister Rod Welford has launched a campaign called ‘Every Day Counts’ to reduce student absenteeism and encourage support for school attendance among students, parents and the community. See Minister's media release 7 October 2008.
The Intensive English Centre (IEC) at Beaconsfield Primary School, Western Australia was created for children who do not have sufficient English to participate in a mainstream classroom. Many of the children in the IEC come from countries such as Sudan, Uganda, Afghanistan and Burma and some have never had toys, played games in their homes or attended formal schooling. The IEC is currently receiving weekly visits by education students from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle campus. Using an internationally acclaimed maths card game, Numero, the university students work to encourage and develop the children's maths skills. See the news release from the University of Notre Dame, 17 September 2008.
Mental Health Week is an annual national event held this year from October 5 to 11. It aims to improve community awareness about positive mental health and preventing mental illness. See details provided by the Mental Health Association NSW and the media release, 3 October 2008, from South Australia's Mental Health Minister Jane Lomax-Smith.
Researchers from RMIT University are seeking participants for a study that will examine the impact of obesity on children’s bodies. The study will cover children aged 10 to 13. See RMIT University media release 16 September 2008, which includes contact details for inquiries about the project.