National Literacy and Numeracy Week (NLNW) will run from 31 August to 6 September and aims to raise community awareness of the importance of developing effective literacy and numeracy skills. Schools across Australia will participate in a range of activities. The theme for NLNW 2009 is Getting the Basics Right. Literacy and numeracy pilot projects are already underway in around 400 government, Catholic and independent schools across the nation. Schools are encouraged to be involved in three nationwide activities described on the NLNW website. Reach for the Stars is a numeracy activity for all ages, developed by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers. National Reading Day offers a range of age-appropriate literacy activities developed by the Australian Literacy Educators Association and the Australian Association for the Teaching of English. The Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards is a nationwide poetry competition managed by the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society. A wide array of innovative and exciting teaching ideas, resources and class materials is available to support schools to participate in NLNW. See media statement by the Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard.
The Victorian is planning to pilot two teacher pay bonus models at up to 75 selected Victorian government primary and secondary schools. The trial, called The Rewarding Teaching Excellence, will commence in 2010. Bendigo Senior Secondary College and Kew Primary School are the first two schools to sign up for the trial where the two model system will 'reward teaching excellence, retain high-quality teachers and spawn greater student results'. The list of other schools participating in trial will be finalised by October. One model, Teacher Rewards, will be trialled in 25 schools and will provide an annual bonus to the top 30 per cent of high-performing teachers assessed by their schools. Trial schools will have access to a bonus payment pool equivalent to 1.5 per cent of total teaching base salaries plus an allocation of superannuation. Each school allocates the bonuses to individual teachers, directing at least 80 per cent to the top 30 per cent of teachers assessed by a school leadership panel. The other, School Rewards model will be trialled in up to 50 schools and involves payments to the 20 per cent of schools that demonstrate to the Department the greatest improvement on a broad-based measure of school performance. The payment bonus is 7.5 per cent of the total teacher salaries at the school – with 50 per cent paid to schools at the end of the assessment period and 50 per cent paid at the end of the following year if performance is sustained. The bonus is shared among teaching staff at the school. Funding for trials will be provided through The Smarter Schools – Quality Teaching National Partnership with the Australian Government. See media release from State Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, 21 August 2009. See also article in The Age 22 August 2009.
The Victorian Government has launched a five-year strategy designed to ready students for the 21st century workplace. The $90 million Energising Science and Mathematics Education strategy will include funding for specialist coaches and teachers, the development of specialist science centres, partnership and access programs, and awards for 'best practice' schools. See Victorian Government media release 21 August 2009.
Education Minister Julia Gillard has launched the Australian Government's 'Digital Education Revolution' with the delivery of laptops to Year 9 students in NSW secondary schools. The $386 million program will see all Australian Year 9 students receive a laptop equipped with Microsoft and Adobe software. See Department of Education media release 26 August 2009 and article in The Australian 26 August 2009.
The Minister for Education and Employment, Julia Gillard, has announced the third phase of funding under the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program. The funding comprises $1.4 billion allocated to 757 NSW primary schools for the refurbishment or development of facilities. See Minister's media release and transcript of interview, both 27 August 2009.
Education groups have rallied in protest at plans by the New South Wales Government to allow the publication of ranked lists of schools. Speakers included representatives from the NSW Primary Principals Association, the NSW Parents and Citizens Federation, the Independent Education Union and the Catholic education diocese of Parramatta. The Premier, Nathan Rees, intends to overturn current legislation imposing substantial fines for the publication of ranked lists of schools. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 28 August 2009. On the general issue of school performance reporting, see transcript of interview with Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, 25 August 2009.
The Australian Government has announced that it is reallocating a proportion of its funding for secondary science and language centres toward primary school halls, libraries and classrooms. The Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals have called for the two issues to be separated and urged the government to continue the funding for science and language centres as originally proposed. See article in The Age 28 August 2009.
The South Australian Government is launching an Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle program for children across the State. See Government media release 26 August 2009.
Measures have been taken to step up the security in Victorian schools in response to increasing incidences of assault, burglary and vandalism. Current policy includes alarm systems, rapid response training and anti-bullying programs. Gabrielle Leigh, the head of the Victorian Principals Association, highlighted the need for school-based welfare officers to combat issues around violence. See article in The Age 27 August 2009.
A Sydney couple have been sued by the independent school attended by their daughter. The parents owe $20,000 in tuition fees, which they refuse to pay, claiming that the school neglected to halt bullying which led to the girl harming herself. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 27 August 2009.