Australian Government Ministers Julia Gillard and Kate Ellis have announced the completion of the first stage data collection of the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), designed to provide detailed information about the health and development of young children. See Australian Government media release 19 September 2009.
British education expert Jim Rose has warned against national curriculums that are overly prescriptive or that require teachers to cover too much material. He also argued that a focus on high-stakes testing can lead to a narrowed curriculum where teachers 'teach to the test', and recommended a balance between traditional subjects and 'real-world' contexts. See article in The Australian 22 September 2009.
Employers have recently complained of an acute shortage of graduates with tertiary qualifications in agriculture, but enrolments in these courses remain low. Professor Rick Roush, Dean of the School of Land and Environment at the University of Melbourne, has urged teachers and career counsellors to promote studies in the field. See article in The Age 11 September 2009.
International students have been able to offer their perspectives on their educational experiences as part of a commissioned review into the experiences of tertiary students from overseas. Recommendations from a student round table included stricter regulation of the education sector, public transport concessions, and improved employment allowances. See article in The Age 23 September 2009.
Researchers at the University of New England have found that almost all teachers have experienced some form of bullying despite widespread and stringent anti-bullying policies. Teachers of all levels of experience and seniority, including principals, have reported being bullied by colleagues or by students, with one in four saying it had affected their mental or physical health. See article in the Daily Telegraph 15 September 2009.
More than 19,000 high-end netbooks have been distributed to Year 9 students in NSW as part of the computers-in-schools program, which aims to provide all students with a laptop computer by the end of 2011. The NSW Department of Education and Training has signed agreements with Telstra and TPG to accommodate high demand for bandwidth, which is currently at 40 terabytes per month, and is expected to rise to 100 terabytes by 2011. The department is also working to create an 'unhackable' network to discourage theft or inappropriate use. See article in The Australian, article in ITnews, both 22 September 2009, and article in ITnews 23 September 2009.
In New South Wales, The Daily Telegraph newspaper has announced that it is launching a campaign to allow the publication of comparative school performances, and has applied to the Department of Education to obtain the 2008 and 2009 academic results of schools in all sectors. It is currently an offence in the state to publish lists comparing the performances of different schools. See article in The Daily Telegraph 19 September 2009.
The NSW Ombudsman has published a report on procedures used by the State's Board of Studies, relating to the scaling of examination results for the Higher School Certificate. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 24 September 2009.
The New South Wales Government will introduce legislation to give more flexibility to the Education Department and courts in dealing with cases of school non-attendance. The State Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, said the aim of the legislation was to get children back to school by focusing on the causes of non-attendance and introducing a wider range of intervention options. See Minister's media release 22 September 2009.
The Australian Education Union's South Australian branch has called for measures to address low numbers of Indigenous teachers in the teaching workforce in the state. The Union has made recommendations for paid study leave for Indigenous educators, as well as improved recruitment efforts. Indigenous education has also been identified by 25% of teachers as a key professional development area in a recent report compiled by Monash University. See article in AdelaideNow 22 September 2009.
South Australian Year 10 students will be offered the capacity to create a secure online portfolio of their work, achievements and future aspirations through Studywiz ePortfolio, a new web-based technology now available to schools. The tool will be available for use in the new Personal Learning Plan subject, which requires all students to assess their capabilities, plan their study and set goals beyond school. See State Government media release 22 September 2009.
The South Australian Government has announced plans to roll out its Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN) school retention program across the state. See State Government media release 22 September 2009.
Sixteen schools located in bushfire-prone areas of South Australia will share in $1.4 million to improve bushfire safety ahead of the next fire-danger season. State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has said that the bushfire protection grants will provide fire-fighting water to schools in the highest risk category. See government media statement 23 September 2009.
The West Australian Government has released a list of 34 Independent Public Schools. State Education Minister Liz Constable has described the schools as 'empowered with greater freedom to make decisions best suited to the needs of their students and local communities'. See article in Perth Times 23 September 2009, which also refers to concerns of the State School Teachers' Union at the establishment of the new category of schools.
Student results in literacy and numeracy in the Yarrabah Indigenous community in Queensland have trebled over the past year, with 61.3% of students now meeting national standards compared with a prevous 17.5%. Principal Simon Cotton attributes the results to dedicated teaching staff, involvement of the wider community, and English-only delivery of classes. See article in The Australian 18 September 2009.