The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) met in Hobart on 30 April 2009. The meeting agreed to a series of measures relating to education and training. Every young person will be guaranteed access to an education or training place. Participation in education, training or employment will become compulsory for all young people until they reach age 17. A target date to improve Year 12 retention to at least 90 per cent has been brought forward from 2020 to 2015. See COAG Communiqué, and media release by Australian Government Ministers, both 30 April 2009, and article in The Age and article in the Sydney Morning Herald, both 1 May 2009. Leaders also agreed to a national approach to child safety and wellbeing through the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. See Australian Government Ministers' media release and article in the Sydney Morning Herald, both 30 April 2009.
Over one-third of top science students do not pursue careers or further study in scientific fields, according to a report recently released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said the results showed schools need to do more to raise student awareness of science careers. Australia was ranked sixth in the proportion of top-performing science students, after Finland and New Zealand. The report is based on surveys of 15-year-old students in 2006. See OECD media release, 28 April 2009 and article in The Advertiser (Adelaide Now), 30 April 2009.
The executive of the NSW Teachers Federation has shifted its position on performance pay. The Sydney Morning Herald describes the union executive's recent statements on the issues as 'signalling an end' to the union's opposition to performance-based pay. See article, 1 May 2009.
More needs to be done to reduce levels of childhood injury and death. With increased education and parental awareness, many accidents leading to injury could be prevented, says Professor Barach of the University of New South Wales. Injury is currently the leading cause of death among children. See media release, University of New South Wales, 15 April 2009, and separate news item on this page covering the statement on child safety and wellbeing in the recent COAG Communiqué.
The Australian Capital Territory Government is to review the current system of school-based management by principals in public schools. The review follows criticism that current arrangements, which give individual public schools control over operational matters such as budgets and staff allocation, place too much administrative pressure on principals. See report on ABC News, 28 April 2009.
Researchers have found that comparing different ways to solve a problem can help improve middle-school students' understanding of mathematical concepts, and help them become more flexible problem solvers. It is also more effective to compare different solution methods than to compare different problems solved using the same solution. See media release, Vanderbilt University, 10 April 2009.
The new BP Energy Education Program will give Western Australian secondary science students a better insight into energy sources. The program will cover 11 different areas, including oil and gas production and alternative power sources. See Western Australia Government media release, 30 April 2009.
The Western Australian curriculum is being taught in schools in China. Four schools currently offer the program, with another school to offer it in 2010. The curriculum is also being taught in four Malaysian schools, as well as a school in each of the countries of Singapore, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Many international former students' strong results had gained them places at Australian universities. See Western Australian Government media release, 23 April 2009.
The Growing Our Own program, a joint venture between Catholic Education Northern Territory and Charles Darwin University, aims to increase the number of Indigenous teachers in remote NT communities. Teaching assistants working in Catholic community schools will be eligible to undertake a specially tailored Bachelor of Teaching and Learning. See media release, Charles Darwin University, 23 March 2009.
The Government is considering publishing more detailed information about students' performance in literacy and numeracy tests. The information would compare students' performance with other students in their school. Under current arrangements, students' achievement is measured only against state and national averages. See article, ABC News, 24 April 2009.
To help overcome widespread partial deafness among Aboriginal students, Northern Territory schools have begun installing amplifying equipment in classrooms. Thirty schools in the Katherine River region are seeking to implement the technology, at a cost of $3000 per room. See article, ABC News, 27 April 2009.
Since 2004, 61 individuals have been banned from South Australian school grounds due to threatening or abusive behaviour. New regulations introduced in 2004 gave police and school principals the right to remove or refuse entry to individuals displaying such behaviour. See news release, South Australian Premier's Department, 27 April 2009.
Growth in the use of stimulant medications to treat Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders will be the subject of a national paper, to be developed in South Australia. It is proposed that this paper, to be completed by the end of 2009, will inform work at the national level to develop a broader National Pharmaceutical Misuse Strategy. See South Australian Government media release, 24 April 2009.