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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

The Australian Government has introduced legislation to establish the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which from next year will assume the role currently undertaken by the interim National Curriculum Board. The Authority will be responsible for the management of curriculum, assessment and reporting at the national level and will report to all Australian education ministers through MCEETYA. The Authority will be led by a 13-member expert Board of Directors. Membership will include a nominee from the Commonwealth, a nominee from each State and Territory Education Minister, a nominee from the National Catholic Education Commission and a nominee from the Independent Schools Council of Australia. See Minister's Second Reading Speech 23 October 2008. There has been continued public discussion concerning the introduction of a national curriculum in Australia. See paper by Garry Le Duff, Executive Director of the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia, in Independence vol 32 no 2; article 22 October 2008 and earlier article 18 October 2008 in The Australian, and commentary by principal James Kennart in The Age: Education 20 October 2008.

English and literacy educators endorse national curriculum proposal

The associations representing English and literacy educators have endorsed Professor Peter Freebody’s Initial Advice Paper on the National English Curriculum. 'Its emphasis on knowledge about language, an informed appreciation of literature, and growing repertoires of English usage provides a way forward for the subject English. It also acknowledges the rich traditions and the diverse ways in which English is taught.' They also endorsed 'the commitments made to equity and diversity' in the paper. See joint media release from the Australian Literacy Educators' Association (ALEA), the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE), the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA), the Primary English Teaching Association (e:lit) and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. See report in the Sydney Morning Herald 17 October 2008. See also commentfrom Angelo Gavrielatos, President of the Australian Education Union, reported in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, and report and commentary in The Australian, all 18 October 2008.

Government launches new website on early childhood learning and care

The new website mychild.gov.au provides information to families about Australian Government early learning and care initiatives and other issues that affect children. The site offers information on different types of child care and how to access assistance with the cost of child care, and includes a searchable database of local child care services. It also provides links to other useful websites on children's health and wellbeing, parenting and family support services, and the Government's plans to reform early childhood learning and care in Australia.

$5 million for 10 new teacher houses in Wadeye

The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has announced that the Government will provide $5 million to the Northern Territory Catholic Education Office to address the chronic teacher housing shortage in Wadeye. See Minister's media release 22 October 2008.

Report on students' job readiness launched

The Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has released a report titled A Study into the Assessment and Reporting of Employability Skills of Senior Secondary StudentsThe report, prepared by ACER, highlights six approaches through which senior secondary students’ achievement of employability skills could be assessed and reported: communication, teamwork, problem-solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organising, self-management, learning and technological aptitude. See Minister's media statement 16 October 2008.

Further discussion of New York school system

The New York City Department of Education continues to attract attention in the USA and in Australia. An article in the USA's Educational Leadership journal October 2008 describes the city's new School Progress Report, which evaluates each school in terms of student progress, student performance and school environment. The evaluations are used in combination to rate the school on a five-point scale. See Educational Leadership's abstract of article. A report in the Teachers' College Record 8 September 2008 challenges claims from the city's School Chancellor, Joel Klein, that the achievement gap between high- and low-performing ethnic groups has narrowed. See also article in The Age 13 October 2008.

Politicians should 'leave history to the teachers', says expert

Tony Taylor, former Director of the National Centre for History Education and now involved in the development of the forthcoming national curriculum, has written an article defending history teachers against charges of academic bias and political intrusion in their roles as educators. See article in The Age: Education 20 October 2008.

Boys' school success depends on relationships, social involvement, say experts

Two prominent psychologists, speaking at the National Boys' Education Conference in Sydney, have stressed the need for boys to develop good personal relationships and a capacity for empathy. Boys tend to have fewer good interpersonal relationships in their lives than girls, according to prominent educational psychologist Dr Andrew Martin. As a result, he argues, the educational benefits of good relationships with teachers tend to be greater for boys relative to girls. US child and family psychologist Dr Adam Cox says parents and teachers need strategies to help boys develop empathy, which scientific research links to cognitive ability and emotional wellbeing. See article in The Age: Education 20 October 2008.

Entire Year 12 class suspended at prestigious boys' school

All Year 12 students from Melbourne's Xavier College, a prestigious Catholic school for boys, were suspended this week following public disruption, violence and drunkenness during the end of year 'muck-up day'. The events have been widely publicised. See, for example, report in The Age 20 October 2008, commentary by Xavier Principal Chris McCabe, Herald Sun 22 October 2008, article Herald Sun 22 October 2008 and subsequent article in Herald Sun 24 October 2008.

Homophobic bullying is making Australian schools unsafe: Researcher

There is a disturbingly high level of bullying provoked by homophobia in Australian schools, according to research led by Associate Professor Anne Mitchell at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University. See media statement 18 September 2008, which links to a podcast by Anne Mitchell.

Big Picture Summer Institutes in SA, WA and Tasmania

Big Picture Education, in conjunction with partnering universities, will conduct five-day intensive Summer Institutes for educators in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania over January and February 2009. Big Picture Education develops public schools based on research in new designs for education, trains educators to serve as leaders in their schools and communities, and actively engages the public as participants and decision makers in education. The Summer Institutes will offer programs including Personalising learning (passion, personal learning plans and advisory groups); Adult World Immersion (Learning in the real world, mentoring); Community and Internships; Designing Learning to Ensure Academic Rigour (establishing  learning goals, personalising pedagogy, ensuring high-quality work and authentic assessment); Building Relationships (with students, families and communities, each other, universities, mentors and business and cultural institutions); and Leading a Personalised School (developing leadership potential in principals, teachers, students and mentors, and team building in schools and communities).

National testing of 14-year-olds ended in Britain

The British Government has ended the national SATs tests of 14-year-olds in England. The tests will be replaced by 'an annual report card to rate each primary and secondary school on student attendance, motivation and academic performance at a range of ages', according to a report in the Financial Times 15 October 2008. See also analysis in the Economist 16 October 2008, report on BBC News 17 October 2008 and commentary in The Independent 15 October 2008.