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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Communiqué from Council of Australian Governments

Late last month, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 24th meeting in Canberra. The meeting agreed on measures for continuing school funding over the next four years, national partnerships targeting underperforming schools, improvements in teacher training, and literacy and numeracy programs. The meeting also agreed to the publication of information on each government and non-government school’s academic results, workforce, financial resources and student population, enabling comparisons of each school with other local schools, and with schools serving similar student populations around the nation. See COAG Communiqué 29 November 2008. See transcript of interview 1 December 2008 with the Australian Minister of Education, Julia Gillard, and her media statement 30 November 2008. See also article in The Australian and report on ABC News both 1 December 2008.

Schools Assistance Bill passed by Senate

The Schools Assistance Bill, which provides funding to non-government schools over four years, has been passed by the Australian Parliament. The passing of the legislation follows widespread public discussion of the relationship of the non-government sectors to the forthcoming national curriculum. See article in The Age 5 December 2008 and report in The Australian 4 December 2008. See also media release 4 December 2008, media release 3 December 2008, interview 3 December 2008 and earlier interview 2 December 2008 by Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard. 

More funding for computers in schools

The Australian Government will invest more than $2 billion to fund more computers for schools, after agreeing to provide a further $807 million to States and Territories for on-costs incurred for computers purchased through Round One and subsequent rounds of its program. See media statement 30 November 2008 by Australian Minister of Education, Julia Gillard. See also commentary on the program in The Australian 5 December 2008. Radio National's Edpod has broadcast an audio discussion on this topic between commentator and retired principal, Chris Bonnor, and teacher, Eileen O'Brien.

Further funding for government primary schools

Government primary schools will receive an additional $635 million over the next four years as part of the new National Education Agreement agreed at the recent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). See Minister's media statement 1 December 2008, report in The Australian 29 November 2008, and related item on this page on the COAG Communiqué.

Education tax refund

Australian Education Minister, Julia Gillard, has explained some details of the Government's Education Tax Refund in an interview 28 November 2008 on ABC Radio Brisbane. Eligible parents may claim a maximum refund of $375 for a primary-school student and $750 for a secondary-school student.

Teachers in line for merit pay by 2010

An article in The Age 3 December 2008 describes plans by the Victorian Government to introduce a merit pay system for teachers, and possibly also provide bonuses for public schools where students' results have improved.

Professional development opportunities in March–April 2009: Assessment and Thinking

Curriculum Press will conduct two professional development workshops during March and April of 2009. The Assessment for Learning workshops, with Toni Glasson and Robyn Adams, will take place on Friday 20 March in Adelaide, Friday 27 March in Melbourne, and Friday 3 April in Sydney. The Smart Thinking: Developing Skills in Reflection and Metacognition workshop, with Dr Jeni Wilson and Lesley Wing Jan, is scheduled for Friday 13 March in Melbourne. For further information please contact the sales team on (03) 9207 9600 or sales@curriculumpress.edu.au.

Conflicting views on teacher supply and demand in NSW

In New South Wales, the Director-General for Education, Michael Coutts-Trotter, and the Teachers Federation have offered conflicting opinions about the balance between teacher supply and demand in the State. The union anticipates a shortage of teachers in coming years. The Department does not share these concerns and believes teachers are currently over-supplied in some areas. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald 30 November 2008.

Senate inquiry into academic bias in universities and schools issues report

The Senate Inquiry into Academic Freedom in Universities and Schools has published its report, making no recommendations. See commentary in The Age 5 December 2008 and earlier news item in Curriculum Leadership 22 August 2008.

New disability guide for Queensland parents

In Queensland, parents of students with a disability will benefit from a handbook designed to help them navigate the State education system, launched today by State Education and Training Minister Rod Welford. Education for Children with a Disability – A guide for parents is available online and will be a valuable resource for parents whose child has been diagnosed with a disability. See Minister's media release, 4 December 2008.

Workforce participation for disabled remains static

A national conference on education in Melbourne this week will learn that despite changes in attitudes, booming economic growth, and increases in the number of disabled students attending school, the employment prospects of disabled students have not improved since the early 1990s. The Pathways 9 conference agenda will focus on managing and mentoring transitions for disabled people, from home to school to workplace. See article in The Age: Education, 1 December 2008.

New nanotechnology educational resource

AccessNano is a new nanotechnology educational resource designed to introduce accessible and innovative science and technology into secondary school classrooms. An Australian Government initiative, AccessNano will offer a variety of teaching modules for primary and secondary students. The resource was recently launched by the Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, at the Science Teachers Association of Victoria annual conference.

Middle years students to be shown the realities of working in science

Next week's Siemens Science Experience in New South Wales will introduce students currently completing Year 9 to science as they might encounter it at university or professional levels. Existing scientists will take students through topics that include the realities of operating a nuclear reactor, the truth about sustainability, the Big Bang theory, and how laser communications could be used to communicate with extraterrestrials. The event will be held at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Campbelltown Campus, from 9–11 December 2008.

Registrations now open for the National Science Olympiads

Registrations are now open for the National Science Olympiads. The Australian Science Olympiads provide students with opportunities to enhance their knowledge, understanding and skills in biology, chemistry and physics.

US physics teachers to create online textbook supplements

Some education leaders in Virginia are concerned that high school physics textbooks ignore key advances in string theory, nanotechnology and particle physics. Instead of waiting for more modern standards and books, the state's secretaries of education and technology are asking top educators to write their own chapters and put them online as free supplements to hardbound books. See article in The Washington Post, 30 November 2008.

Recent graduates low on emotional IQ, survey finds

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers has revealed employer concerns that new graduates lack empathy, self-awareness and care for others. In their responses, employers emphasised the value of analytical ability, and problem-solving and written communication skills, while business knowledge, IT skills and the pursuit of lifelong learning were seen as less important. See article in The Age: Education, 1 December 2008.