The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) met in Perth last week. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) provided Ministers with details on the next update of the My School website and reported on the development of the Australian Curriculum. Ministers endorsed a number of initiatives for the future development of the My School website and as part of this affirmed the importance of reporting school financial information later this year. Prior to the next NAPLAN tests, Ministers asked ACARA to implement a comprehensive communication strategy for parents and to provide Ministers with advice on ways to further strengthen security and test administration protocols. Ministers made plans to discuss in July the outcomes of consultation on the draft phase 1 K–10 curriculum. Ministers confirmed that the scope of the Australian Curriculum over time will comprise the eight key learning areas, general capabilities and cross curriculum priorities. MCEECDYA agreed to realise the National Education Agreement commitment to review funding and regulation across the Government and non-government schooling sectors. Ministers also agreed to an evaluation strategy for the Smarter Schools National Partnerships. The Ministers welcomed a presentation from South Australia regarding its new data linkage developments. These developments will enable policy makers to better understand how the broader social, physical and other drivers affect children's learning and development. Ministers agreed that the jurisdictions will explore how existing data can be used in new ways to enable a better understanding of child development and learning, with South Australia and the Commonwealth to report back to MCEECDYA options for a national approach. A progress report was presented to Ministers on the implementation of the National Quality Agenda (NQA) for early childhood education and care. For further information see MCEECDYA Communiqué 10 June 2010. See also report on news.com.au 10 June 2010 and article in The Sydney Morning Herald 10 June 2010 discussing the MySchool website.
Political and educational leaders have commented this week on the proposed content of the national curriculum, and the timeline proposed for its implementation. See article in The Age 14 June 2010 and article in Courier Mail 9 June 2010 about the Queensland Government's concerns over the scope of content to be covered by the curriculum. Tasmanian Minister for Education and Skills Lin Thorp has stated that Tasmanian schools will receive support and planning time to help with the transition to the National Curriculum. See Minister's statement 17 June 2010. An article in The Age 14 June 2010 describes science teachers' calls for new and emerging fields of science such as nanotechnology to be included in the proposed national science curriculum, while an article in The Australian 11 June 2010 discusses concerns over including visual arts as part of a wider arts curriculum rather than as a separate subject. An article in The Sydney Morning Herald 16 June 2010 reports on history educators' calls for the curriculum to include more current and relevant topics such as terrorism, popular culture and the social aspects of technology. See also the abstract titled 'Getting on the same page' in this edition of Curriculum Leadership.
The Australian Government's extensive program to build and refurbish school libraries has highlighted the shortage of teacher librarians qualified to staff them. See article in The Australian 16 June 2010 and abstract titled 'Gatekeeper & guide' in this edition of Curriculum Leadership.
The Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) has put forward six principles and recommendations to be considered by all Australian governments regarding the reporting and use of NAPLAN test results. The recommendations were considered at last week's meeting of Australian education ministers (see separate news item on this page). See APPA media release 11 June 2010 and article in The Age 11 June 2010.
The Asia Education Foundation (AEF) is inviting educators to complete a short online survey to help them improve their online services. Participants will be in the running for two prizes of $250 each. The AEF is a joint activity of Asialink at the University of Melbourne and Education Services Australia Ltd. It advocates for and supports Asia literacy in Australian schools.
Jim McAlpine, outgoing head of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, has written an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald 14 June 2010 reviewing his 20 years' experience as a principal and education leader.
The early development of South Australian children is to be tracked across a new data-sharing system. The system will track individual children over time, linking information from school census data, perinatal statistics, emergency department records, and dental and child health records. As such it will complement information that we can break down by location, such as the Australian Early Development Index and NAPLAN, which have highlighted suburbs and schools in highest need. See statement from State Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jay Weatherill, 10 June 2010.
Sections of Victoria's Ultranet are to be revised in the light of advice from the Victorian Privacy Commissioner, according to an article in The Age 10 June 2010. The Ultranet, currently under development, is an online portal designed to allow students and teachers to create personal learning portfolios and collaborate with peers across the state. Teachers will be able to use the Ultranet to create curriculum plans and to monitor and assess student performance. Parents will be able to access their child's timetables, attendance records and academic progress, as well as general school announcements. For more background information see statement 10 May 2010 by State Education Minister Bronwyn Pike.
Queensland Education and Training Minister Geoff Wilson has outlined the State Government's plans for spending on school education. Key areas for investment include the Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan in 2010–11, the Science Spark program for science teaching, and additional funding for teacher aides in primary schools. See Minister's statement 8 June 2010.
The Victorian Government is introducing cyber safety sessions in 27 schools. Students from Years 3 to 10 will interact online with cyber safety experts who will discuss ways to boost online awareness in their schools. The lessons will cover stranger danger and cyber bullying. See statement 10 June 2010 from Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike. See also article about cyber bullying in The Daily Telegraph 18 June 2010.
Discussion has continued this week regarding the trial of a secular ethics program at 10 public schools in New South Wales. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 12 June 2010.
As part of a push towards compulsory road safety education, the South Australian Motor Accident Commission has commissioned research into how road safety is taught in schools in Australia and internationally. See article in The Advertiser (news.com.au) 16 June 2010.