Computer games to be tested in classrooms
Four secondary schools in the UK will trial the use of computer games in their classrooms over a year, with findings due to be reported in August 2006. The project will test whether computer games engage students to a greater extent than current educational software, and so improve learning. See article in BBC News online 10 August 2005.
NSW secondary English syllabus criticised, and defended
Most New South Wales teenagers are reaching high school with poor grammar and spelling because their teachers never learnt the basics, according to some education experts. Nearly 90 per cent of Year 7 students in New South Wales could not get punctuation 'mostly correct' in the State's English Language and Literacy Assessment last year. Peter Knapp of Educational Assessment Australia attibutes some of this problem to the removal of grammar from the English syllabus for the 20 years after 1974. His colleague Megan Watkins has called for a balanced approach in the classroom, 'with considerable teacher direction' rather than 'reliance on group work and student centred learning'. The New South Wales Board of Studies describes grammar as an essential component of the secondary syllabus; it is treated in a way that allows individual student needs to be addressed. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald 15 August 2005. The Year 12 English syllabus in New South Wales is 'clogged with artificial language' and 'confusing jargon', according to second report in the Sydney Morning Herald 15 August 2005. In another newspaper article, Catherine Lumby, an associate professor of media and communications at Sydney University, has defended secondary English in New South Wales from accusations of downplaying literacy classics.She has also defended the need for secondary English courses to include critiques of popular media. See report in The Age 17 August 2005. See also earlier What's New item in Curriculum Leadership 29 July 2005.
Seventh primary year 'worse for maths': Nelson
Children studying maths in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia are being left behind because they spend an extra year at primary school, according to Australian Government Education Minister Brendan Nelson. Dr Nelson argues that some primary school teachers struggle with some of the mathematical concepts they teach. He has supported calls for a national exam for student teachers that covers concepts used in maths and science teaching. See report in The Australian 11 August 2005.
Extra teachers in New Zealand
The New Zealand Government has allocated funding for 421 additional secondary teachers for 2006. School boards will have flexibility in their allocation of the new funds. The Government has brought forward the allocation of the new funding, to help alleviate workload pressures revealed in a recent survey of secondary teachers by the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA). See Parliamentary media release and article in New Zealand Herald 15 August 2005. The PPTA has expressed concern that disadvantaged schools could suffer under the new arrangement. See related article in New Zealand Herald 15 August 2005.
Beginning teachers get more support
New, returning and overseas-trained teachers in Western Australia and Queensland now have greater support available in the early stages of their careers. See the Online Professional Support (OLPS) provided by the Department of Education and Training, Western Australia and the support services offered by the Beginning and Establishing Teachers Association (BETA) in Queensland. See also article in School Matters, 29 July 2005.
Independent schools make more use of consultants
Independent schools in Victoria are making increasing use of consultants for services such as strategic planning, marketing, ICT implementation, building work, human resources and analysis of Year 12 results. See article in The Age 13 August 2005.
Child obesity worse than thought: NSW study
A recent study of children aged 12 and 13 found that almost half were overweight or obese. The study, by Sarah Garnett of Sydney's Children's Hospital, identified 47 per cent of girls and 35 per cent of boys as overweight or obese, when they were measured by waist circumference. The research is part of a longitudinal study to compare body mass index and waist circumference as methods of assessing excess weight. Many researchers believe abdominal measurement is the best indicator of obesity. See report in The Age 13 August 2005.
Bracks urges national reform
Victoria's Premier Steve Bracks has called for more stringent testing of primary and secondary students' literacy and numeracy, as part of a proposal for wider social and economic reform in Australia. In the paper A Third Wave of National Reform, the Premier urges measures to raise the proportion of students achieving benchmark levels for Years 3, 5 and 7 reading, numeracy and writing, and to increase the proportion of students completing Year 12 or equivalent. See article in The Age 15 August 2005.
Concern over new bullying database in UK
Rotheram Council in Britain plans to track all instances of bullying and violence occuring within 20 of its schools, using its new Sentinel for Bullying database. The database will be trialled over the coming year, and is intended to identify repeat offenders. Children's rights campaigners have queried whether children and parents will be able to see and challenge information stored. See article in The Guardian 9 August 2005.
New online resource for studies of Asia
A new hot topic page featuring future developments and research project updates can now be accessed on the Australian Council of State School Organisation's (ACSSO) website. The ACSSO sees studies of Asia as vital for preparing young Australians for participation in the future global economy. See newsflash from ACSSO, 9 August 2005.