National Literacy and Numeracy Week, 29 August to 4 September 2010, is being recognised through a range of national, and state and territory activities. The theme for the Week this year is Learning for Living. The Week gives schools the opportunity to get involved in a range of activities and to recognise locally the achievements of students and the work of teachers, parents and members of the community who support young people to develop stronger literacy and numeracy skills.
The South Australian government is planning a range of reforms to school education following a review of teacher recruitment in the state. Under the plans principals in all public schools will have more authority to select staff, teachers will no longer be required to move schools every 10 years and contract teachers will be given more opportunities for permanent employment. A Government discussion paper sets out a wide range of new directions in the relationship between the Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) head office, schools and preschools. Initiatives include simplifying administrative procedures required of schools and preschools, increasing the exchange of staff between schools and head office, as well as exploring establishing a preschool and childcare centre at the DECS head office. The policy direction discussion paper is the first in a forthcoming series. A copy of the first in the occasional series will be made available on the DECS website. See statement by Education Minister Jay Weatherill 27 August 2010. See also report on ABC News and article in The Sydney Morning Herald both 27 August 2010.
The NSW Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, has invited applications for 300 teacher scholarships, designed for student teachers who agree to teach in hard-to-staff public schools for at least three years. The Teacher Education Scholarship Program for 2011 will train teachers in special education, secondary mathematics, science and English for NSW public schools, in areas including Western Sydney and regional NSW. It provides up to $5000 per year, plus a $3000 one-off grant when the scholarship holders begin teaching, and a guaranteed permanent position in a public school. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants will get priority for up to 80 of the 300 scholarships. See Minister's statement 31 August 2010.
The Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN) is a South Australian government program that has improved school retention rates and eased the transition to work amongst disadvantaged students. State Education Minister Jay Weatherill has announced the expansion of the ICAN program into the state’s Murraylands region. The program is aimed at students from upper primary through secondary school. It brings together young people, parents, schools, community organisations, community leaders, businesses and government agencies at a local level to create support networks. So far more than 9000 young people have been helped through ICAN. See Minister's statement 1 September 2010.
A recent report indicates a significant rise in school attendance amongst Indigenous communities across Far North Queensland. The Quarterly Report on Key Indicators in Queensland's Discrete Indigenous Communities January–March 2010 has recently been tabled in the Queensland Parliament. See statement by State Education Minister Geoff Wilson, 2 September 2010.
Biodiversity Snapshots, a new application developed by Melbourne Museum, will allow students to study wildlife and record their findings on mobile phones, netbooks and iPads. See statement by Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, 25 August 2010.
The Tasmanian Government is extending the successful Raising the Bar Closing the Gap literacy and numeracy program to up to 19 public high schools. The initiative will initially target students in years 7 and 8, with plans to extend it to Year 10. The program is already in place at 36 Tasmanian primary schools, where it is being evaluated by researchers at the University of Tasmania. See statement by State Minister for Education and Skills, Lin Thorp, 1 September 2010.
Students entering Year 11 or 12 in Tasmanian Government schools next year will be able to choose their courses from a single comprehensive handbook. The state Minister for Education and Skills, Lin Thorp, has released the Guide to Post-Year 10 as part of the evolved Post-Year 10 education and training model. See Minister's statement 30 August 2010. See also article in The Mercury 1 September 2010.
University of Queensland researchers have reinforced high-level concerns at the level of numeracy held by Australian science graduates. The researchers are investigating programs to raise these graduates' numeracy levels. See article in The Australian 1 September and news item from the University of Queensland 24 August 2010.
An article in the Weekly Times Now 1 September 2010 reports that agriculture and other primary industries are to be taught in years K–8, and may be available as an optional stand-alone subject to Year 10, following approval from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
Professor Alan Smithers, a leading British educationalist currently in Australia, has criticised the national testing system used in English schools. He has argued that during the last British government the testing system had not helped to raise overall academic standards and had contributed to truancy and early departures from school. See article in The Age 1 September 2010.
The presence of asbestos is causing concern at a range of Queensland schools. See article and related article in the Courier-Mail, both 2 September 2010. The Queensland Government has established an Asbestos Experts Reference Panel and Stakeholders Reference Panel to provide expert advice on the management of products containing asbestos in state schools. It has also appointed a Chief Asbestos Safety Advisor and a Chief Asbestos Health Advisor to support and investigate Queensland state schools asbestos issues.