In Queensland, year 7 will become part of high school from 2015 as part of the Queensland Government's latest suite of improvements to the state's education system. The first funding for the transition will be allocated in the 2011–12 State Budget. See joint statement 9 June 2011 from Queensland's Premier, Anna Bligh and Minister for Education, Cameron Dick.
The Australian Government has announced $97.7 million to support the Smarter Schools National Partnerships for Improving Teacher Quality and Low Socio-economic Status School Communities. The Smarter Schools National Partnerships are supporting students in more than 2500 schools. The Smarter Schools National Partnerships annual reports for 2010 have now been released by state and territory governments. See statement 7 June 2011 by Australian Government Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett.
As part of National Cyber Safety Awareness Week, the Minister for Justice, Brendan O'Connor, has launched Connecting Classrooms, the latest stage of the ThinkUKnow cyber safety initiative. ThinkUKnow is an initiative of the Australian Federal Police, Microsoft and ninemsn. See statement from the Australian Government Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, 3 June 2011.
The Chair of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council, Paul McClintock, has called for more current and comprehensive information to establish whether COAG education and health targets are being met, and inform the Reform Council's reports. See article in The Australian 10 June 2011.
The Education Department in Victoria will be required to pay $120,000 in compensation after the County Court found that Braybrook Secondary College had breached its duty of care to a student. The student was injured when a coin 'was accidentally flicked into her eye'. See article in The Age 9 June 2011.
Victorian students can now learn about China through an 'Exploratorium': a new, interactive computer program based at the Melbourne Chinese Museum. A further 10 Exploratoriums will also be launched in schools this year through funding provided by the Victorian and Chinese governments. See statement from Victorian Education Minister, Martin Dixon, 7 June 2011.
Applications for the 2012 round of Scholarships for Career Advisers are now open. The Australian Government's Scholarships for Career Advisers program provides an opportunity for practitioners to enhance their skills, and by extension, supports young people making transitions from school to work or further study. There are two scholarships available to advisers in schools, TAFEs and universities. Applications close 8 July 2011.
Teachers and schools struggle to balance core academic curriculum with coverage of student wellbeing
An article in Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 2011, discusses the pressure on teachers and schools to cover many aspects of children's wellbeing as well as core curriculum areas.
In different countries, groups of teachers are now making use of Twitter for professional learning and mutual professional support. See article 23 May in the Sydney Morning Herald, the UKedchat wiki and, for discussion among Australian teachers, the #auedchat stream on Twitter.
Western Australia has established a centre for specialist services and resources for schools, called Statewide Education Services. It will serve as a base for almost 300 experts in a range of areas, including early childhood education; literacy and numeracy; English as a second language and dialect; behaviour management; student disability, including deaf and hard of hearing; speech and language development; curriculum and vocational education. Approximately 100 staff will move to the site from the Department of Education's central office at the start of 2012. The move follows the Independent Public Schools reform which allowed schools more autonomy and regionalisation. See statement 26 May 2011 from WA Minister for Education, Elizabeth Constable.
Schools in low-SES areas that achieve high academic results are often held up as examples that quality teaching can 'beat the odds' and overcome the effect of poverty. William J. Mathis, managing director of the USA's National Education Policy Center, argues that 'great harm' is caused by this approach, noting that these high-achieving schools are rarely able to sustain their results. See NEPC blog post 17 May 2011.
Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, delivered a speech at the G8 summit, in which he argued that 'schools remain the last holdout from the digital revolution'. See transcript on Digital Learning Now blog 24 May 2011.
The current approach to religious instruction in Victorian schools has been defended by Professor Barry McGaw, the chair of ACARA, and by Victorian Minister for Education, Martin Dixon. Their statements follow criticisms of the program by the Religion, Ethics and Education Network Australia (REENA) and other groups and individuals. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 29 May 2011.
The Wisconsin State Government in the USA has asked the state's highest court to dismiss an earlier ruling, by a lower court, against a law curbing collective bargaining rights for teachers and other state and local employees. See report on Bloomberg.com 7 June and earlier article in the New York Times 27 May 2011.