A report commissioned by the ACT Department of Education and conducted by education.au limited has recommended that ACT schools welcome and encourage students' use of technologies, such as mobile phones and MP3 players, by integrating them with classroom practice. See the article in The Canberra Times 3 October 2005.
Research conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has found that students' subject choices in the senior years of high school were having a profound effect on their ability to find employment and undertake tertiary study or training. Students who chose to study mathematics and physical sciences were much more favourably placed in regards to employment and university study than those who pursued clerical and service subjects. For more information see VCE Choices Found to Limit Job and Study Prospects by David Rood in The Age 29 September 2005, the Australian Council of Educational Research Media Release, and the report Pathways from School to Further Education or Work.
A government literacy review in England is investigating the introduction of synthetic phonics in primary schools, as well as the variable quality of English teaching, in order to improve students' literacy levels. According to the report in The Guardian, one in five students who complete primary school in England are unable to read and write to an acceptable standard. See the article in The Guardian 30 September 2005.
Students in the seventh and eighth grade in Maine, in the United States of America, have had access to their own personal laptop computer for the last three years. While teachers and students in Maine are eager to point out the educational advantages of the laptops, it's unclear if they have led to better educational outcomes, given that there has been little change in standardised test scores when current students' achievements are compared to those of three years ago, before the laptop program was introduced. With other United States educational jurisdictions contemplating introducing their own laptop computer programs, the costs and benefits of student access to personal laptop computers is under increasing scrutiny. For more information see the article by Brian Kladko in The Boston Globe 30 September 2005.
Trevor Mallard, the New Zealand Minister for Education, outlines the policy achievements in education in New Zealand over the last few years, and explains the Labor Government's focus on quality education and effective teaching in the new parliamentary term, in his address to the New Zealand Educational Institute on 28 September 2005.
In an effort to stem the tide of new teachers leaving the profession early, Canada's Ontario province is launching a program to give them more training and support in their first year in the classroom. New teachers will get an experienced teacher as a mentor who will help to provide more on-the-job training in areas such as class management, parent communication and how to teach kids at risk. See article in National Post (canada.com) 4 October 2005.
A national study of teachers' knowledge of phonics shows many are unable to properly sound out 30 per cent of basic words, with New South Wales ‘the worst performer’, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph 10 October 2005.
A survey of teaching assistants in Britain has found that more than one-fifth of respondents work between four and ten hours of unpaid overtime per week. A representative of the Unison union, which conducted the survey, said that the results confirm 'that workforce reforms are slow to deliver tangible benefits to school support staff'. See report on BBC News, 7 October 2005.
The Australian Institute of Physics has opposed the introduction of a new outcomes-based education system to be introduced at senior secondary level in Western Australia. See report in The Australian 8 October 2005.
The Victorian Minister for Education and Training, Lynn Kosky, has announced the expansion of Victoria's Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL) programs. An additional ten schools will be selected to run gifted programs, which the Minister views as important for extending and maintaining the engagement of gifted students in their education. For more information see Media Release 5 October 2005 and the article State select-entry schools expanded by Robyn Guy in The Age 6 October 2005.
Four television advertisements showing families assisting childrens' learning in real-life situations will be released by the New Zealand Ministry of Education this month. The advertisements are part of the Team-Up information program, which includes a planned website, printed information and promotion of families working with teachers to support learning. See article in the New Zealand Education Gazette 10 October 2005.
State school buildings in Victoria have been labelled as the worst in the country. Despite increased capital works spending by the current Victorian Government, schools continue to report unhealthy toilet blocks, the presence of asbestos, leaking roofs, and a lack of heaters and air conditioning. The poor facilities fail to meet Occupational Health and Safety requirements, do not encourage learning or foster community spirit, and are linked to the enrolment drift to private schools. The government is considering public–private partnerships through which schools would be built and maintained by private companies and leased back to the government, as has occurred in New South Wales and Britain. Despite past opposition, the Australian Education Union has expressed openness to the proposal. A private company has been employed to build, manage transfer and undertake refurbishments for 600 new prefabricated classrooms. See articles from The Age 10 October 2005 (free registration required): 'State's school buildings 'worst' in country' p3; 'School toilets from hell hold on for relief' p3 and 'A state of decay' in The Age: Education pp 6–7.
Teachers in Years K–3 are struggling to incorporate technology into teaching, according to research presented at the recent Early Childhood Australia Conference. The researchers interviewed teachers from six schools in Western Australia. Constraints on teachers' use of ICT include the complexity of the technology or teachers' perceptions of its complexity, lack of time, and lack of professional development opportunities. Teachers also expressed concerns about software for children that fails to teach them problem solving, creativity or critical thinking skills. Technology resources tend to be allocated to older classes in many schools. See article in The Age: Education (free registration required) 10 October 2005.
This award, sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training, is open to all government, independent, Catholic and other denominational schools in Australia currently delivering a career or life/work education program. For the first time, two winners – one from the primary sector and one from the secondary sector – will be selected. The winners’ prize includes $5,000 for their school, while the runners-up receive $3,000. All four finalists will be funded to attend the 2006 Australian Association of Career Counsellors 15th Annual Conference, to be held in Sydney from 19 to 21 April 2006, where the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, will present the winners with their prizes. Nomination forms will be available on the Australian Careers Service website from 17 October 2005. Entries close on 11 November 2005 at 5.00 pm EDST.