In Victoria, 44 public schools are currently closed due to the State's bushfires. Continuing safety concerns include water contamination and exposure to fire and smoke. See update service provided by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). The Department has advised that counsellors are available to provide support for students and families affected by the bushfires. Three primary schools have been destroyed: Strathewen Primary School, Marysville Primary School and Middle Kinglake Primary School. See report in the Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2009, earlier report in The Age, 9 February 2009, bushfire media releases from the Victorian Government. Dr Ken Rowe, a senior researcher with the Australian Centre for Educational Research, is missing after having gone to his weekend home in Marysville prior to the fires. See article in The Age, 11 February 2009. Donations may be sent to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. A Bushfire Relief Fund has also been set up by Victoria's Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network. The Association of Independent Schools of Victoria has established Helping Out, a bush fire relief coordination service for the independent schools sector. See also article in the Catholic Leader, 13 February 2009.
The Victorian Government is set to allow the teaching of humanist ethics in schools as an optional alternative to religious instruction, using curriculum materials now being developed by the Humanist Society of Victoria. See article in The Age and report on ABC News, both 14 December 2008, and report in Christian Today, 4 February 2009. Diana Warnock, President of the Humanist Society of Western Australia, has expressed interested in using the Victorian material. See report in the West Australian, 17 December 2009.
The New South Wales Government has announced 790 school improvement projects to be undertaken over the next two years in addition to the Australian Government’s education infrastructure investment announced in its stimulus package. See media statement, 10 February 2009, from the New South Wales Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth.
The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney is calling on young people to share their views on what it will take to build a better society. The 2009 'What Matters?' essay competition invites Years 5-12 students in New South Wales and the ACT to submit a 400-600 word opinion piece on the issues in society that are important to them. Entries close Wednesday 1 April, 2009.
The South Australian Government has launched the Water Learning Centre, a new information, training and learning hub focused on sustainable water use. The Centre will include advanced information technology and digital broadcasting to regional and remote schools. It will organise professional development for teachers, arrange school visits by water experts to discuss key topics such as desalination and water re-use, and provide free resources for classroom activities and material for library loans. In a related move, SA Water will be working with the Department of Education to deliver a new curriculum linked to school education programs. See media statement from the Minister for Water Security, Karlene Maywald, and the Minister for Education, Jane Lomax-Smith, 10 February 2009.
An article in Online Opinion, published 9 February 2009, calls for changes to the Queensland subject syllabi for secondary mathematics. The author cites students' results in tests conducted for the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) survey, and for the National Assessment Programme (NAPLAN), as grounds to revise the syllabi.
Created by Lisa Spiro, the director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University, a new collaborative wiki collects information about tools and resources that can help scholars conduct research more efficiently or creatively. Visitors can browse through topical headings such as 'Authoring', 'Blogging' and 'Data Mining'. Within each heading, visitors can read short descriptions about each resource.
Internet expert Colin Jacobs has argued that the Australian Government's proposals for filtering the web will do little to protect children from inappropriate content. See his article in Online Opinion, 28 January 2009.