A special meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has endorsed plans for the spending of $14.7 billion on school education over three years, amongst other measures to stimulate and support the Australian economy. Funding from the Australian Government will cover new building and upgrades of school facilities, which will be available for broader community use, including new libraries, multi-purpose halls, secondary school science laboratories and language learning centres. The COAG meeting also agreed to timeframes, delivery mechanisms and reporting arrangements to enable rapid delivery of the projects. See COAG Communiqué 5 February 2009. See Prime Minister's media release 3 February 2009, article in The Age and report in the Sydney Morning Herald, both 6 February 2009, and report and video links on ABC News 4 February 2009. See also media statement by South Australian Premier Mike Rann and Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith 4 February, and media release from Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett 3 February 2009.
New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has said that the State’s new laptop program for high school students will be accompanied by a roll-out of laptops for teachers to assist in planning lessons and contact with students in rural and remote areas. Australian Government funding will be used to train teachers in the technology. See report on ABC News and article in The Age, both 1 February 2009. In Victoria, the State Government is to provide 10,000 students from low socioeconomic backgrounds with low-cost access to mini laptops. See report on ABC News 2 February 2009.
The Victorian Government's continuing implementation of its Education Blueprint was described in a media statement from Premier John Brumby on 4 February 2009. Meanwhile, an article in The Age and an article in the Herald Sun, both 2 February 2009, have reported on new measures to evaluate school performance to be undertaken by the Government. See also article in The Age 3 February 2009.
In Western Australia, all Year 1 students are to be assessed on their literacy and numeracy levels when they start school. The ‘on-entry assessment’ is the centrepiece of the $3 million second stage of State Education Minister Liz Constable’s strategy to improve literacy and numeracy standards in public schools. See Ministerial media statement 2 February 2009.
The Western Australian Government has launched the first phase of its strategy to improve student behaviour in the State's public schools. Education Minister Liz Constable said a $19 million pastoral care package would provide all schools with access to chaplains and school psychologists. See Minister's media statement 15 January 2009.
Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at New York University and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, has called for the abolition of the No Child Left Behind Act, the USA's cornerstone legislation on school education. She argues that the law 'has turned our schools into testing factories, narrowed the curriculum to the detriment of everything other than reading and math, and prompted states to claim phony test score gains.' See article in the Washington Post 12 January 2009.
A report by Associated Press on 24 January 2009 has described the impact of recent hostilities on Gaza's school students. A separate article from the McClatchy newspaper chain in the USA on 28 January 2009 described a missile attack that destroyed the American International School in the territory. In Australia, the AEU's 2009 Federal Conference has invited the union's members to support the Gaza Emergency Appeal of APHEDA, the overseas aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. See also statement 11 January 2009 by the Shalom Institute and GlobalEd resource page on the Palestinian Territories.
An international project aims to develop an assessment system that measures school students' cross-disciplinary skills and knowledge. The project involves a partnership between technology companies Cisco, Intel and Microsoft. It will be headed by Professor Barry McGaw, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne and Chair of the National Curriculum Board. See article in The Australian 14 January 2009 and report in Forbes 13 January 2009.