A survey of 459 teachers by the Australian Secondary Principals' Association has found that over 85 per cent of respondents feel that university degrees leave them unprepared for the classroom, and many are forced to teach subjects in which they have no expertise. Less than 15 per cent felt that their training helped them cope with issues such as bullying, disruptive students or problem parents. Only about 12 per cent of teachers felt prepared to teach vocational courses. See article in The Age, 29 May 2005.
Schools are set to receive new funding in the New Zealand 2005 Budget for operational grants, school property, extra teachers, initiatives that promote best practice, and more ICT resources and technology assistance. There will be an estimated extra 421 teachers for secondary (321) and area (100) schools. See report and commentary in New Zealand Education Gazette, 23 May 2005.
The Victorian Government has announced another category of scholarships to attract beginning teachers to schools and subjects that are difficult to staff. The Minister for Education Services, Jacinta Allan, announced that final-year education students will now be able to apply for a scholarship of up to $5,000 to assist them in making the transition to teach in a 'hard-to-staff-subject' in a 'hard-to-staff school'. For more information on the scholarships available to beginning teachers in Victoria see Media Release, 18 May 2005.
A program aimed at getting primary school students to increase the time they devote to exercise is currently being trialled in the Australian Capital Territory. The Feat 4 Feet walking program asks classes of students to nominate a location anywhere in the world that they would like to visit. After calculating how far they would have to walk to reach their 'destination', the students, as a class, then record how far they walk each day, until, collectively, they achieve their goal. For more information see Media Release, 31 May 2005.
The International Shakespeare Association will host the eighth World Shakespeare Congress in Brisbane in 2006. The Congress, consisting of scholars, critics and theatre professionals, will provide schools and teachers with an opportunity to engage with Shakespeare's works and exhibit their interpretations of those works, as well as become acquainted with innovative learning models. Schools' involvement will be coordinated through the Congress's Education Advisory Committee. For more information visit the VIII World Shakespeare Congress website and see Ministerial Media Statement, 31 May 2005.
Queensland students performed above the national average in writing and numeracy in 2002, according to the Writing and Numeracy Benchmark results. The results of the national testing, which allows for comparisons to be made across educational jurisdictions, show that 90.2 per cent of Year 7 students in Queensland achieved the national reading benchmark, and 88.3 per cent achieved higher than the numeracy benchmark. For more information see Ministerial Media Statements, 31 May 2005.
New five-year targets have been set to improve the retention, attendance and literacy skills of Aboriginal children in South Australian schools and preschools as part of a new State Government strategy. The Government will introduce Aboriginal studies, perspectives and reconciliation in all State schools and preschools and boost the number of Aboriginal people working in education and children’s services. The moves are included in the State’s new five-year strategy for the education and employment of Aboriginal South Australians in State schools and preschools. See Ministerial Media Release, 1 June 2005. The South Australian Education Minister, Jane Lomax-Smith, recognised the achievement of 92 Indigenous students in attaining their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) in 2004 at an award ceremony on 29 May. The students represent the greatest number of Indigenous students to attain their SACE in any year. For more information see Ministerial Media Release, 29 May 2005.
A study of students' transition from primary to secondary school by Dr Diana Whitton of the University of Western Sydney has found that schools often fail to help students and parents understand the nature of the curriculum and pastoral care at secondary level. See article in The Age, 30 May 2005.
Newly released national literacy and numeracy benchmark data reveals a disturbing increase in the number of Year 7 children failing to achieve national benchmark standards. One in six Year 7 students was unable to pass the national numeracy benchmark. The Australian Government will provide $4.8 million for the Literacy and Numeracy in the Middle Years of Schooling Initiative which aims to improve standards in the crucial middle years of schooling. More students achieved the Year 3 and Year 5 reading benchmarks than in previous years. In 2002, 92% of Year 3 students and 89% of Year 5 students achieved the national reading benchmarks. See Australian Government Ministerial Media Release, 31 May 2005.
The New South Wales Government is moving to reduce class sizes for Years K–2. The Interim Report for the Class Size Reduction Evaluation has now been finalised. It has evaluated the impact of smaller kindergarten class sizes. Early results at 15 priority funded schools show that principals and teachers believe their students are making substantially more progress in both literacy and numeracy, thanks to smaller classes. The Interim Report is the first in a series of evaluations of the program. This report surveyed 54 principals and teachers and 73 parents. The report's findings include more attention is given to literacy and numeracy, more support and individual instruction is given to students who need assistance, students are more confident and better behaved in class, students handle the move to school better and try harder to please the teacher. The report also found a significant improvement in teacher morale and more effective assessment of students by teachers. The Government will continue to roll out the program for Years 1 and 2. See Ministerial Media Release, 19 May 2005 and Parliamentary Statement, 25 May 2005 by Carmel Tebbutt, New South Wales Minister for Education and Training.