Education Ministers Communiqué
A meeting of the Australian, State and Territory Education Ministers on 17 April 2009 has agreed on a framework for publication of comparable information about school performance and context, aiming to provide parents, teachers and communities with nationally consistent information detailing a school’s results, its workforce, its financial resources and the student population it serves. See media release from Australian Government Education Minister, Julia Gillard, 17 April 2009; open letter from a range of peak professional and union organisations critical of the initiative, hosted on the AEU website; article in The Canberra Times, 18 April 2009; and article in The Age, 18 April 2009. For other decisions of the Education Ministers' meeting see also related news items in this edition of Curriculum Leadership.
Teach for Australia initiative to attract high achieving graduates into teaching
Australian Government Education Minister Julia Gillard has lauched the Teach for Australia initiative to attract high achieving university graduates to teaching careers. The first intake of graduates will be placed in Victorian schools in 2010. The initiative is part of the Government’s National Partnership with the States and Territories to drive quality teaching across Australia. See Minister's media release 21 April 2009. See also article in The Sydney Morning Herald and article in The Australian both 22 April 2009, article in The Age 21 April 2009, and critical commentary on the home page of the Australian Education Union (AEU) 24 April 2009
Becoming Asia Literate: Grants to Schools
Australian primary and secondary schools are invited to apply online for the first round of the Becoming Asia Literate: Grants to Schools. Applications open Monday 4 May and close Friday 29 May 2009. Schools can apply for grants of $20,000 to $40,000. The grants are a key component of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) managed by the Asia Education Foundation on behalf of the Australian Government. Through the NALSSP, the Australian Government is increasing opportunities for Australian students to become familiar with the languages and cultures of China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.
Arts to be included in National Curriculum
A meeting of Australian Education Ministers has decided that the arts, including music, should form part of the second stage of National Curriculum development to be introduced in 2011. See media release 17 April 2009 from Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett and article in The Australian, 18 April 2009.
New National Curriculum body to be based in NSW
Australian Education Ministers have decided that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will be based in Sydney. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 2009.
New TV resource for educators
EnhanceTV, the online resource for educators using television programs in the classroom, has launched an online community to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and resources and foster connections between educators and the film industry. See Screenrights media release 6 April 2009.
Early Years Learning Framework
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is designed to guide early childhood educators in developing quality programs and inform parents on how best to support children’s early learning. It has recently been trialled in 29 case study sites across Australia, supported by an online forum, with full implementation planned to commence in July 2009. Elements of the Framework have been criticised in sections of the media, see for example a commentary in the Herald Sun 14 April 2009. See also the response from Professor Collette Tayler in a University of Melbourne media release 16 April 2009.
National ADHD study seeks participants
A national study led by Associate Professor Mark Bellgrove at the Queensland Brain Institute seeks to examine the the relationship between genetics, cognition, and brain function in children with ADHD. The three-year study is beginning this month. Families interested in participating in the study can find out more by visiting www.adhdstudy.com.au. See media release, University of Queensland, 12 April 2009.
NSW allowed input into capital works spending
The New South Wales Department of Education has offered principals greater input into the allocation of Australian Government grants for maintenance and upgrading of school buildings. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 11 April 2009.
Chris Sarra completes review of Indigenous education in NT
Dr Chris Sarra, Director of the Indigenous Education Leadership Institute in Queensland, has completed a review of education in the Northern Territory on behalf of the Territory's government. He has found that teachers' concern to be sensitive to Indigenous culture has often led to unduly low expectations of Aboriginal students. See report on ABC News 13 April 2009.
British government fails to support school heads, teachers in challenging schools: union
In Britain, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has published the results of two surveys of staff in poorly performing schools subject to government intervention. The union found that the interventions have caused unacceptably high levels of stress among school staff, particularly those in senior positions, resulting in illness, resignations or early retirement. See article in The Times and article in The Guardian, both 13 April 2009.
Ongoing controversy in Texas over creationism and the science curriculum
Texas legislators are considering new restrictions on the state's Board of Education, following the Board's approval of a science curriculum that 'opens the door for teachers and textbooks to introduce creationist objections to evolution's explanation of the origin and progression of life forms'. Other sections of the curriculum 'were carefully worded to raise doubts about global warming and the big-bang theory of how the universe began,' according to an article in the Wall Street Journal 13 April 2009. See also commentary in Salon 28 March 2009.
Massachusetts to track individual students' progress
The US state of Massachusetts is to track individual students' yearly achievement on tests, rather than relying on year level results. The new method will help determine students' progress over several years and to identify which teaching methods are most effective. See article in The Boston Globe, 24 March 2009.