Discussion paper on National School Chaplaincy Program
Australian School Education Minister Peter Garrett has invited public feedback on the Government’s National School Chaplaincy Program, releasing a discussion paper that 'seeks the community's views about how the program may be targeted and expanded'. Responses are invited up to 18 March 2011. The Australian Government has committed $222 million to continue and expand the program until 2014. See Minister's statement 11 February 2011. An article in The Age 13 February 2011 states that 'the vast majority of chaplains – 98.52 per cent – are Christian even though only 64 per cent of Australians identify as Christian' and also notes controversy over a limited proposal to offer secular pastoral care workers instead of chaplains. See also statement by Queensland Minister for Education and Training Geoff Wilson on the State Government's defence of the chaplaincy program in the face of a High Court challenge to its constitutional validity.
Education Disability Standards Review underway
The Australian Government is launching a review and associated discussion paper on the effectiveness of current disability standards for education. See statement 15 February 2011 from Australian Minister for School Education Peter Garrett.
Concern over dark themes in English curriculum
Several books on the national English curriculum for years 8-10 have been criticised as degrading or potentially harmful to children. See article in The Australian 17 February 2011. See also article in the Sydney Morning Herald 18 February 2011, defending the inclusion of books on these themes.
New support for literacy and numeracy learning in high-need Tasmanian secondary schools
In Tasmania, 13 public high schools will receive funding for new literacy and numeracy programs. The programs are an extension of programs applied in primary schools and will be known as Raising the Bar Closing the Gap 7 Up. The schools will receive additional teacher allocation to work directly with students most needing to improve their literacy skills; a senior staff allocation so that the principal can lead a whole school literacy improvement approach; additional professional learning support; and, for schools in most need, an increased allocation of specialist support staff. Participating schools were chosen on specified criteria including the number of students assessed by NAPLAN testing as being below national minimum standard, the size of the school and the school’s educational needs index. See statement by Tasmanian Minister for Education and Skills Lin Thorp, 16 February 2011.
Innovative early learning and literacy programs launched in Melbourne's north-west
Victoria's Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell, has announced funding for the Supporting Parents – Developing Children project in the City of Hume. The project, developed in cooperation with the Scanlon Foundation, the Australian Government and the City of Hume, will provide focused support for families from non-English-speaking backgrounds and offer parents and their children linguistically-rich learning opportunities. The funding will provide mother and child English language programs, extend an existing bilingual storytime program, make bilingual and multilingual playgroups available in more neighbourhoods and improve the services available through early years hubs. See Minister's statement 16 February 2011.
Victorian Government to revise anti-discrimination measures' impact on faith schools
Victoria's Attorney-General, Robert Clark, is preparing revisions to the state's anti-discrimination laws that will affect hiring requirements at faith schools. See article 12 February and related article 13 February 2011 in The Age.
NSW schools support Queensland flood relief
Queensland Education and Training Minister Geoff Wilson has appealed to schools in the state to support in the School Aid Floods Relief Appeal. About 170 schools were damaged by Cyclone Yasi were closed for more than two days while 92 state schools were damaged in the floods, with three schools still operating from nearby sites. See statement 17 February 2011. The NSW Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, has called on public schools across the state to 'go Maroon for a Day' and dress in the Queensland colour as part of an effort to raise money for Queensland flood relief. See Minister's statement, also 17 February 2011.
Call for inquiry into Australian Government's school infrastructure spending program
An article in The Australian 17 February 2011 describes a range of problems and public complaints regarding the Australian Government's spending on school infrastructure, which had been undertaken as part of an economic stimulus package. See also article in the Business Spectator 17 February 2011.
Classroom-tested tech tools used to boost literacy
An article in Education Week 4 February 2011 describes US teachers' use of webcams, audio recorders, blogs and other Web 2.0 tools to develop students' literacy. The article highlights the value of these commonly available technologies in comparison to more costly software programs that target literacy learning.