Officials ponder a longer school day (US)
Two middle schools in Massachusetts in the United States are considering a two-hour extension to the school day. Those in favour of the measure argue that it will allow students to be better prepared to compete in a globalised world and that it will decrease the amount of unsupervised time that young people with working parents spend at home. Concerns about the encroachment on young people's leisure time, as well as the place of homework in the new school day, have been raised by some parents. See the article in The Boston Globe 9 October 2005.
Insolence drives new teachers to consider quitting (UK)
Student misbehaviour and abuse are threatening to deprive English schools of some of their most talented teaching recruits, according to Matthew Taylor in The Guardian. A study, which involved the monitoring of newly qualified teachers for a period of two years, found that 40 per cent had to deal with misbehaviour on an hourly basis, and that 16 per cent had experienced physical violence. See Insolence drives new teachers to consider quitting, in The Guardian 7 October 2005.
Standing out from the crowd
Standing Tall is a mentoring program which pairs at-risk students from Baimbridge College, Hamilton, in rural Victoria, with adults in the local community. The program, designed by Jeanette Pritchard, a teacher at the school, is privately funded, and includes students from Years 4, 7, 11 and 12. Teachers at the school have noticed improvements in students' confidence and work, and there are plans to seek the assistance of the Victorian Government in creating a statewide mentoring initiative. For more information see Standing out from the crowd by Margaret Cook in The Age 10 October 2005.
Safety in numbers
A group of 37 New Zealand schools have produced the North Canterbury Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) directory. This CD-ROM identifies local venues for excursions, accommodation options, activity providers and specific safety details such as whether the area has cell phone coverage. The Risk Assessment Management System (RAMS) and Safety Action Plans (SAPs) for a number of activities are also included. See article in The New Zealand Education Gazette 10 October 2005.
New software guide for teachers (New Zealand)
A new Software for Learning website is available on TKI, the New Zealand teaching resources website. The Software for Learning site provides a regularly updated list of computer programs which meet curriculum requirements and have been used in schools. Detailed information about each program, associated resources, teacher review and practical implications for classroom use are outlined. The site currently has 115 products listed, a number of which are available at minimal or no cost. Searches by curriculum area and learning skills can be undertaken. See article in the New Zealand Education Gazette 10 October 2005.
Challenges to Intelligent Design theory
Four leading figures in Australian science have called on Australian governments and educators 'not to permit the teaching or promulgation of intelligent design as a science'. In a letter to the Australian Financial Review 21 October 2005, the experts state that ID, unlike evolution, is not a scientific theory because it is not testable and thus falsifiable by experiment or obervation, nor is it able to predict outcomes in novel situations. The experts are Mike Archer, Dean of Science, University of New South Wales, Bradley Smith, Executive Director, Federation of Australian Scientific and Techological Societies (FASTS), Sue Serjeantson, Executive Secretary, Australian Academy of Science, and Paul Carnemolla, President-elect, Australian Science Teachers' Association (ASTA), New South Wales. See also 'Enemy at the gates' in New Scientist 8 October 2005, and 'The great designer mythology' by Emeritus Professor Derek Denton in The Age 17 October 2005.
New multi-campus college for Koori students (Vic)
The Victorian Minister for Education and Training, Lynn Kosky, has announced the establishment of a new Victorian P–12 College of Koori Education. It is anticipated that the proposed school would unite the four Koori Open Door Education (KODE) schools in one, autonomous school. Currently, the four KODE schools are paired with a 'host' school in their local community. For more information see Media Release 13 October 2005.
Computers for 1,500 teachers in smart classrooms (Qld)
Teachers at sixty-one Queensland schools will be allocated laptop computers as part of a trial to gauge their impact on teaching and learning. Participating teachers will be encouraged to use the computers for lesson planning, report writing and for digital presentations of their lessons. The trial is being funded under the Queensland Government's Smart Classrooms Strategy. For more information see Ministerial Media Statement 11 October 2005.
Teachers strike defies law in Canada
About 38,000 teachers in Canada's British Columbia province have entered the second week of an illegal strike, affecting about 600,000 public school students. The action is over a pay dispute. See report on CTV.ca 16 October 2005 and article in Vancouver Sun 17 October 2005.
Teacher shortages in South Australia
One in 10 teachers in South Australia are taking subjects they have not studied at tertiary level themselves, according to findings from an Australian Education Union (AEU) survey. The survey found that between 7 and 13 per cent of computing, home economics, English, science and language classes were taught by underqualified teachers last year. Some state schools were unable to recruit teachers and were forced to remove certain subjects. The findings also show that 8 per cent of schools have unfilled permanent teaching roles, and 22 per cent are in need of contract and relief teachers. See article in The Advertiser 17 October 2005.
Move to have death and dying discussed in schools
Organ Donation New Zealand has called for the topics of death and dying and organ donation to be added to the curriculum. The organisation argues that students are capable of discussing the issues and point to a pilot program under way in Australia. The New Zealand Principals Federation has stated that while the subjects could be appropriate for later secondary education, cultural and parental views must be considered. See article in The New Zealand Herald 14 October 2005.
PM unsure of need for Year 12 national exam
Prime Minister John Howard has expressed reservations about the idea of a national certificate to replace the Year 12 examinations conducted in each of the States and Territories. See report on ABC Online 17 October 2005. See also 'Bosses want exam revamp' in this week's Abstracts section.
Celebrating Democracy Week
Hundreds of schools around Australia have taken part in Celebrating Democracy Week 12–19 October 2005. Grants from the Australian Government's Department of Education, Science and Training have been awarded to more than 200 schools in all education sectors from around Australia for large events organised by the education departments in Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Queensland. As part of the celebrations 30 students from each State and Territory have taken part in Every Voice Counts!, a three-day student forum in Canberra. See Ministerial media release 13 October 2005.
Career Change program extended in Victoria
The Victorian Government has expanded a pilot program that encourages professionals to become teachers in Victorian state schools. Education Services Minister Jacinta Allan has announced the $1 million extension of the Career Change program that offers teacher training combined with work in a school. See Ministerial media release and commentary in The Age 19 October 2005.