Donald Macleod reports in the Guardian that the proportion of students from state schools entering higher education in England has declined slightly during the period 2003–04. The porportion of students not continuing to their second year of university study has also increased, with the data showing a high correlation between high achievement at secondary school and success at tertiary level. See the article in the Guardian 22 September 2005.
Indigenous students in South Australia are been denied access to tutorial grants due to a reduction in Commonwealth Government funding, according to the Australian Education Union (AEU). The tutorial grants usually allow Indigenous students to obtain educational assistance in areas such as literacy. For more information see ABC News Online 23 September 2005.
The truancy rate in England has risen by 43 per cent in the last eight years despite government initiatives to arrest it, according to Alexandra Blair in the Times Online. Authorities have placed the blame on serial truants, who comprise about 8,000 students at just 4 per cent of secondary schools. Parents of serial truants can be allocated a social worker, or they can face prosecution, which can result in fines or a gaol sentence. Teenagers make up to two-thirds of school truants, and the highest rates of truancy are experienced in the North East and West of England. See the article in the Times Online 22 September 2005.
A survey conducted by Parents Jury of its national membership, sponsored by Diabetes Australia, the Cancer Council and the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, has found that a majority of parents were concerned about the kinds of food on sale in school tuckshops. Parents were worried that the lack of healthy foods in school tuckshops was undermining their efforts to instil healthy eating habits in their children. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed also supported compulsory physical education classes in schools. See the article by Nicolette Burke in The Courier-Mail 19 September 2005.
Fewer than one in three eligible students has taken up tutorial vouchers provided under an Australian Government literacy scheme. About 24,000 children around Australia are estimated to be eligible for the scheme, which gives struggling readers a voucher for literacy tuition outside school hours. See report in The Age 26 September 2005.
Australian Government Education Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, has confirmed plans to introduce a national report card for key subjects. State and Territory systems will have their Year 12 English, maths, physics and chemistry courses ranked 'in order of excellence'. See article in The Australian 24 September 2005.
A proposal requiring Victorian students to read only one book in Year 12 English, labelled 'English Lite' by its critics, has been abandoned by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. See article in The Age 28 September 2005.
The Commonwealth Minister for Education Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, has released a report, Benchmarking Australian Primary School Curricula, which claims Australian primary students are falling behind the educational attainments of those in comparable jurisdictions – such as England, Japan and the United States – due to the use of outcomes-based curricula in some States and Territories. The report advocates a return to syllabus-centred curricula organised around subject disciplines, which clearly outline the knowledge and skills students need to aquire and mandate a summative assessment of that acquisition. For more information see the Minister's Media Release 28 September 2005, Kevin Donnelly: Top Marks to Syllabus Road Maps, in The Australian 28 September 2005, and the transcript of an interview with Dr Nelson on ABC Radio's AM program.
Psychologist Dr Judith Paphazy has criticised the trend for children to be driven to school, calling it 'one of the worst examples of over-anxious parenting', according to an article in The Age 3 October 2005. Dr Paphazy, who is involved in a US-based resilience-building program in schools, has recently been awarded a fellowship by the Australian College of Educators.
Six new learning centres catering to students who experience difficulty with classroom routines and school environments will be established in Queensland as part of the State Government's Better Behaviour, Better Learning initiative. Each centre will employ two staff members, and receive a grant of up to $60,000. For more information see Ministerial Media Statements 29 September 2005.
All special education classes in New South Wales Government schools will be staffed with a teacher's aide from 2007, guaranteeing two adults for each special education class, and allowing the maximum number of students in each class to rise by one student. Parents will retain the right to choose whether their child continues in a special education class, and the Department of Education and Training (NSW) has undertaken to consult with parents, principals and staff before merging special education classes deemed too small to sustain. For more information see Improvements for special education staff and students issued by the Department of Education and Training 30 September 2005.
Victorian Government figures reveal that nearly 20,000 days of teaching time have been lost due to workplace stress and bullying since June 2002, with almost $5 million spent on teacher compensation. Increasing workloads, higher community expectations, workplace bullying and instances of violent student or parent behaviour have been identified as causes. Bullying by the school principal, students or parents accounted for 61 of the 429 stress-related claims. See article in The Age 3 October 2005.
The New South Wales Teachers' Federation and Department of Education are negotiating the next salary award for public school teachers, which will come into effect at the end of the year. While increases of 8 to 13 per cent are being sought, an offer has not yet been made by the Department of Education. See article in The Sun-Herald 2 October 2005.
The Northern Territory division of the Australian Education Union has defended the Territory's primary years curriculum against charges that it 'lacks academic rigour and promotes superficial learning'. The criticisms appeared in a recent Government report. See report on ABC News Online 1 October 2005.
New Zealand secondary school teachers have requested that the Teachers Council improve the support offered to teachers, and cut down its policing role. The Council has reacted to claims of teacher-bashing by only publishing summaries of disciplinary decisions, where it previously published detailed proceedings. Complaints from foreign teachers over a requirement for police clearance from their home countries have also been made. See article in The Dominion Post (stuff.co.nz) 1 October 2005.
The Australian Government is currently funding scholarships to provide professional development for school career advisers. The scholarships will offer opportunities to gain skills, knowledge and experience through further study or industry placements. Applications close November 4, 2005. Curriculum Corporation is managing the Scholarships for the School Career Advisers Project for the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST).
A new resource for teachers will provide expert advice on questioning techniques for the primary and secondary classroom. The Strategic Questioning DVD contains examples of strategic questioning and will help to demonstrate how the theory behind strategic questioning can be translated into classroom practice. Australian educators may register now to receive free copies of the DVD, which will become available in February 2006. The resource will add to the range of material available on Curriculum Corporation's Assessment for Learning website.