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Accommodation capacity crisis in North Shore public schools – Scroll down to September 19. There’s quite a few articles along the way.

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Raising teaching standards

Bigger classes free teachers to raise standards Sun-Herald March 3, 2013

Josephine Tovey: NSW should consider bigger class sizes so teachers can be freed to spend more time on professional development, according to the head of the O'Farrell government's teacher authority.

In her first interview since being appointed the chief executive of the NSW Institute of Teachers, Kate O'Donnell said it was worth looking to countries where class sizes are bigger, with training time then being used to improve the effectiveness of teachers.

A recent report by the Grattan Institute found classes in Shanghai have an average of 40 students, but teachers only have between 10 and 12 hours a week in front of their students, with more time spent on other tasks such as classroom observation, team teaching and mentoring. (see also Flexible education helps students go the distance ).

Push for higher teaching standards Sun-Herald March 3, 2013

Anna Patty: Future teachers who failed to get good HSC results would be effectively locked out of classroom teaching under sweeping changes being considered by the O'Farrell government in response to frustration with declining education standards

The series of proposals are being driven by the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, and are designed to strong-arm universities to lift their minimum entry scores for teaching.

The government will use its power as the state's biggest employer of teachers, to put pressure on universities to raise the quality of teaching.


Mona Vale Public school is staking new ground Manly Daily March 2, 2013

Andrew Priestley: Mona Vale Public School is celebrating after the State Government bought a property to be incorporated into the surrounding school grounds. Includes picture of Principal Greg Jones with the purchased property in the background.

 

Old school is way to go, says Pyne SMH February 28, 2013

Daniel Hurst: Child-centred learning should be abandoned for a return to more explicit instruction driven by teachers, the Liberal education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, says.

The incoming president of the Australian College of Educators, Stephen Dinham, who is delivering a speech on Thursday night saying teachers are being unfairly blamed for education system problems, cautioned on Wednesday against a return to ''chalk and talk'' methods of learning.

Professor Dinham, however, acknowledged an excessive use of students engaged in inquiry and discovery-type learning without the basis they need to do it. He said it was false to portray teaching methods as a choice between directing learning and student-centred approaches, saying good teachers used a mix of both. ''We're bedevilled in education by false dichotomies,'' he said.

 

Gonski must not be abandoned in the scramble to score political points Daily Telegraph February 27, 2013 – 5.30pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: The Gonski reforms are the best chance we have had to set Australia on the path to successfully educating all of its children.

If we miss it, and the reforms are abandoned, it will be back to the old divisive public versus private education war again - where we seem numb to the fact that one in three Australian children go to high school without being able to read and write properly.

Everyone is a loser in that future.

Of course moving all schools to a national funding scheme is not a magic bullet that will fix everything. The reasons for our slide in standards are complex.

But tinkering at the edges won’t solve the inequities of the current mishmash of funding systems.

 

Pop up classrooms help with extra enrolments for now but problem won't go away North Shore Times February 27, 2013 - 8:50am

Rohan Smith: Demountable classrooms are popping up at schools on the lower north shore as the State Government responds to more than 600 new enrolments across the region, but not everybody is happy with the temporary solution.

Quotes from the P&C’s Steph Croft, Willoughby councillor Lynne Saville and Willoughby Mayor Pat Reilly.

 

Dropping maths doesn't add up, says Ridout SMH February 27, 2013

Josephine Tovey, Amy McNeilage: The falling rates of students, especially girls, studying maths in senior high school is ''very worrying'' and a risk to Australia's future economic prosperity, Reserve Bank board member Heather Ridout has warned.

A range of industry and political leaders expressed alarm yesterday at a new report showing the proportion of girls not studying maths for their HSC had more than tripled in a decade, while the number of boys taking the subject had also fallen dramatically.

''I think we have a problem with mathematics study, full stop. This is an economic threat to Australia,'' said Ms Ridout, former head of the Australian Industry Group. ''We're going into this economy where the sciences are going to be more and more important, and it's vital that women have those skills.''

Boys and girls divided on maths SMH February 26, 2013

Amy McNeilage:  The proportion of girls not studying any maths for their HSC has almost tripled over 10 years, in a trend experts say is partly due to the perception maths is still a ''boys' subject''.

While boys are abandoning maths at an equally dramatic rate, they still make up the overwhelming majority of students in advanced maths subjects.

Megan Crambrook was in the top maths class in year 10 at Colo High School, but she completed her HSC last year without any maths because she said the way the subject was taught did not appeal to her.

''It's rote learning and way too rigid for me,'' she said. ''I find I do a lot better when there's a more flexible and personal approach. (Editor: rote learning isn’t what maths is about … … is it the teaching?).

Study finds more girls opting out of maths and science The Conversation February 14, 2013 – 2.32 pm

Girls are losing ground in mathematics and science education in NSW, with the number of female students studying no maths for their HSC more than doubling in ten years, according to a new report from the University of Sydney.

The percentage of girls studying no maths jumped from 9.5% in 2001 to 21.8% in 2011. Just 13.8% took one maths and one science subject for their higher school certificate in 2011, according to the report, compared with 18.6% for boys, for which there had been a marginal decline. The report comes after the Federal Government committed $22.5 million for the Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program in last year’s Budget, following recommendations from Chief Scientist Ian Chubb to boost participation in science, technology, engineering and maths.

 

Gillard ups the ante on schools The Age February 27, 2013

Jewel Topsfield: Victoria is expected to receive a quarter of the additional $6.5 billion a year to be spent on schools under the Gillard government's funding reforms - four times what the Baillieu government is offering in its alternative plan.

 

KU - the Balmain pre-school that's in a class of its own Daily Telegraph February 27, 2013

Lisa Power:  This week marks 110 years of preschoolers enjoying simple outdoor games and fun in the grounds of KU's pioneering preschool. Funded by a philanthropist, the centre was set up by progressive kindergarten enthusiasts who linked social reform with improving the education and welfare of poor children. The ideals of duty, discipline and honour then became fashionable; today early childhood educators value play, creativity, intuition and imagination.

 

More than just Gonski needed … but is it going, going Gone-ski ?

Stop fighting and do some work on schools Daily Telegraph February 26, 2013

Opinion: Miranda Korzy -  vice-president of Barrenjoey High School P&C: You could be forgiven for mistaking the current talk among Australia's education ministers about urgently needed increases to school funding as a playground brawl.

Parents don't care which politician says what.

What we want is for them all to sit down together now and come up with the funding.

Education is an issue by which all parents will judge both sides of politics. Who can we trust?

The COAG cycle of frustration goes ever on crikey.com.au February 25, 2013 – 12.53pm

Bernard Keane: COAG has devolved back to where it was six years ago. The cycle of failure will continue unless radical change is contemplated.

We’ve now completed another full revolution in the great Council of Australian Governments circle of life, and we are now back to where we were in 2007, when COAG had ground to a halt between a full slate of Labor state and territory governments and a Howard government facing defeat, when even actions on which all governments had previously agreed weren’t progressing because it might reflect positively on the other side of politics.

That’s the basis for the Baillieu government’s half-baked alternative school funding model that provides a pretext for Victoria to walk away from the Gonski proposals reform process, cheered on by the opposition and other conservative governments.

Fortunately, there’s a circuit breaker at hand for this profoundly flawed process, though it comes from an unusual source. In his book Battlelines, Tony Abbott proposed an amendment to the constitution that would allow the Commonwealth to override state laws in any area.

For top-tier students, teachers have to go back to school SMH February 25, 2013

Developing the educators we have must be our No.1 focus and No.1 investment, writes Brian Croke, executive director of the Catholic Education Commission, NSW.
If the Gonski committee entrusted with inventing a new funding model for Australian schools had known then what we know now, its 2011 report would have had a more pointed and urgent focus. Rather than just searching for the Holy Grail of school funding, the committee would have had to take account of some new realities and new data.

First, they would have had to deal with an uncomfortable fact we discovered only just before Christmas 2012. In the fundamental skill of reading, year 4 students in Australia are not just being jostled and outranked by the Asian tigers but are 27th in the world. That makes us dead last of the English-speaking nations, behind Ireland and Northern Ireland, England, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

Second, if the Gonski committee were starting now, it would have to deal more directly than it could in 2011 with the data coming from the new Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), which assessed kindergarten students in 2009 and 2012.

The ensuing results clearly illustrate how unequal students' potential for learning already is on the day they start school. No serious crusade for improved student performance can afford to ignore the preschool years. So, there would have to be a greater emphasis on early-childhood education. But where does that figure in the 2025 strategy? Nowhere yet, it appears.

 

Bright sparks driven by passion to teach SMH February 25, 2013

Julia Proctor: Teaching continues to be a popular career choice attracting plenty of high-quality candidates.

'I am hugely excited about being a teacher,'' says Israel Carroll. ''I can't wait to go in full time and have my own class.'' About to embark on his second year of a master's of teaching program at Melbourne University, Mr Carroll, 39, has two undergraduate degrees - one in law and one in social sciences - and years of experience managing residential therapeutic services for children.

A stint as a stay-at-home dad left the father of three contemplating a career change.

 

Gillard's maths fails data test, says economist SMH February 25, 2013

Peter Martin: In launching a new school literacy program the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, appears to have committed a statistical howler.


Brace for preschool pinch SMH February 24, 2013

Cosima Marriner: Children who attend childcare centres that are staffed by more and better qualified educators start school with superior language, literacy and numeracy skills, and are more co-operative and attentive, research shows.

The findings are from research by Early Childhood Australia, commissioned by the office of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.

The Coalition has promised a Productivity Commission inquiry into the childcare sector if elected.

 

It's homework, not drone work, so chill out parents SMH February 24, 2013

Catherine Armitage: Here's a note home to parents who insist their children's homework has the i's dotted, t's crossed, margins straight and everything just right. Chill out. You're probably doing more harm than good.

A Sydney study's finding potentially puts a hex on the helicopter approach and grabs tiger mothers by the tail. Perfectionist parenting produces poorer offspring performance, according to research by Jennifer Hudson and colleagues at Macquarie University's centre for emotional health.

 

Victoria throws education reforms into disarray The Age February 24, 2013

Farrah Tomazin: A furious Gillard government has warned that more than $1 billion in funding for Victorian students has been placed at risk after Premier Ted Baillieu walked away from a national plan to overhaul schools.

But in a move that could derail the Gonski reforms even further, other Liberal leaders have endorsed Mr Baillieu's decision and are now considering whether to follow suit.

Victoria goes it alone on school funding reform Courier-Mail February 23, 2013 – 3.40pm

Belinda Merhab: The Victorian government is going it alone on school funding reforms, saying it can deliver better outcomes than the commonwealth's one-size-fits-all approach.

The state government plan, to be phased in from next year, would deliver more than $400 million in additional funding to Victorian schools every year.

It would increase funding to state schools with high concentrations of disadvantage and ensure more consistent funding across government and non-government schools for students with disability.

 

Day's worth of fat in child fast-food meal SMH February 22, 2013

Amy Corderoy: Children's fast food meals vastly exceed the amount of energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat children should eat in one meal, according to a damning report from the Cancer Council NSW.

The Fast Food: Exposing the Truth report showed an urgent need to reduce the amount of energy and unhealthy ingredients in fast food meals, the council said.

 

Cammeray club may become primary school SMH February 22, 2013

Josephine Tovey Education Editor: A former club (the North Sydney ANZAC Memorial Club) could become the north shore's newest primary school, the local mayor says, as the crisis caused by surging enrolments in the area worsens.

Demountables have been placed on teacher car parks and new classrooms created within schools to cope with rising student numbers at increasingly popular public schools, the department has confirmed.

Enrolments at some public schools this year are up by as much as 13 per cent on 2012, according to draft figures collected by the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents and Citizens Associations. The president of Mosman's P&C, Celia Harper, said urgent action was required. ''Because of our very small site we either need a multi-storey building or for the [department] to open a new high school in our area,'' she said.

North Shore set for new primary school SMH February 21, 2013- 5:56PM

Parents from a number of P&C's have also expressed concern about the impact of the proposed $200 million redevelopment of the Channel Nine site at Willoughby, which would contain 663 new dwellings.

In a letter, parliamentary secretary for Regional Planning Craig Baumann said "the adequacy of school capacities to service the development will be carefully considered by the department."

The state government already announced it would acquire part of the UTS site at West Lindfield for a new high school, which could open in 2017.

Carpark classrooms as enrolments soar in Sydney's north shore schools Daily Telegraph February 21, 2013- 5:49PM

Katherine Danks: Demountables are being placed on teacher carparks and classrooms are being radically refurbished to accommodate a surge in student enrolments at schools on Sydney's north shore.

Primary school enrolments across the area have increased by an average 5.5 per cent on 2012 numbers, or 474 students, and one primary school grew by 13 per cent.

According to draft enrolment figures compiled by the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, comprehensive high schools in the area have grown by 159 students, which equates to 5.2 per cent growth.

Steph Croft, an executive member on the council, said schools which had critical capacity issues in 2012 have continued to have high growth this year and a number of schools cannot fit anymore demountable buildings on their land.


Good start for gifted kinders SMH February 17, 2013

Cosima Marriner: One in six children starting school in NSW has the numeracy skills expected of a year 1 student, prompting the Education Department to develop a gifted and talented resource package for kindergarten teachers.

The 65,000 children who started kindergarten in the state's public schools this year are having their literacy and numeracy skills assessed under the government's Best Start Assessment program.

Parents will be advised of their child's performance this term, and teachers will use the results to tailor their program to the individual needs of the students.

 

Get HSC help for students, public schools told SMH February 16, 2013

Anna Patty: THE NSW Ombudsman will urge NSW public schools to make greater use of any special assistance available for Higher School Certificate candidates, such as extra time and physical aids, after an investigation revealing much lower use compared to non-government schools.

In a report to be released soon, the Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, finds that only 6 per cent of public school students statewide applied for special provisions in 2011.

That is compared to 8.1 per cent of Catholic school students and 11 per cent of those students at independent schools.


Gillard's school plan a costly failure SMH February 14, 2013

Jewel Topsfield: A $16 million federal Labor commitment to stem the shortage of maths and science teachers by fast-tracking bankers, accountants and engineers into classrooms has been an expensive failure with just 14 participants recruited.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the Teach Next scheme during the 2010 election, promising that Labor would recruit 450 mid-career professionals into teaching over four years.

 

Australia closing equity gap, but education performance slipping: OECD The Conversation February 13, 2013

Australia has managed to improve equity in education, but that hasn’t stopped it slipping on performance according to new research from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

 

Mine grant protests are really the pits Daily Telegraph February 13, 2013 7.37pm

Maralyn Parker: Public school principals are honing their scrounging, scavenging and submission writing skills these days.

The O’Farrell Government’s cut of $1.7 billion from NSW school funding means anything extra they can round up is important.

So you would probably wish the principal and parents of Narara Valley High School, on the Central Coast, good luck with their application for a community grant of $10,000 from mining company NuCoal.

But instead of being lauded, efforts to win a grant have been lambasted - on social media, in newspapers and by teacher unions.

 

School tries some different class hours Parramatta Sun February 13, 2013 3.23pm

Altered school hours are the latest in a sea of change for pupils at Merrylands East Primary School.

The pupils now attend classes between 8am and 1.15pm. A homework centre runs after school until 3pm for pupils whose parents are unable to collect them early. Up to 72 of the school's 366 pupils use the service each day.

The alterations are a trial that will be assessed by Macquarie University. Parents have had mixed reactions.

 

No places for children in ethics classes SMH February 13, 2013

Amy McNeilage: Children are being turned away from ethics classes in public schools because there are not enough volunteers or funding to meet demand.

Schools such as Gosford Public School on the central coast can offer classes only to those attending non-scripture classes. The school has no space to allow children learning scripture to opt out and study ethics.

Others have placed students on waiting lists until vacancies arise or new volunteers are appointed. The provider, Primary Ethics, said more than 4000 volunteers were needed to meet demand - seven times the existing number.


Don't worry, it turns out the move to high school is fun
SMH February 11, 2013

Opinion: Jason Cleary-Gorton a year 7 student at a Sydney high school.  The leap to secondary school gives students both mobility and variety.

 

Parents should go past school gate SMH February 11, 2013

Ainslie Macgibbon: Family-school partnership is one of the latest buzzwords in education.

A familiar script, performed most nights at homes near you, begins ''How was school today?'' The response is often limited to: ''Good'', ''Fine'', ''OK'' or ''Hmpf''.

End of story. But should it be? A prevailing belief among educators today is that schools cannot do it alone. ''Family-school partnership'', ''complementary learning'', ''parental engagement'' and ''parental involvement'' are some of the buzz phrases that now characterise education, school websites and school prospectuses.

Along with the more traditional forms of involving parents at school, such as fund-raising and canteen duty, some schools offer myriad opportunities for getting involved, from serving on well-being and curriculum committees to actually learning with your child.

 

Public schools in the dark about help from philanthropic sources SMH February 11, 2013

Public schools are missing out on significant financial assistance from philanthropic trusts and organisations because they often don't know the support exists, according to a report.

Instead, they are continuing to rely on traditional forms of fund-raising such as cake stalls and fetes because most schools are unaware grants, donations and "in-kind" support are available, a major survey by the Australian Council for Educational Research has found.

The survey backs up the review of school funding lead by David Gonski, which found that philanthropy was "underdeveloped in government schools in Australia, when compared with other school sectors and practices in other countries".

Michelle Anderson, a co-author of the Leading Learning in Education and Philanthropy 2012 Survey Report, said the "knowledge gap" about philanthropy was a major barrier to schools accessing support, such as grants of up to $10,000 offered by the Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund that are available to government schools.

Circle of generosity proves you don't need millions to give SMH February 9, 2013

Deborah Snow: Jacqui Nelson, a St Ives parent, approached a friend, Catriona Wallace, who had founded Kids in Philanthropy, an initiative aimed at connecting children with charitable projects in their own city.

This led to a meeting with an adviser, Kristi Mansfield, who helped identify a project with which the Nelsons and nine other families could engage.

Ten families have each pledged $5000 a year, a total of $50,000 annually, to seed a project in south-western Sydney which will run after-school classes for four primary schools in Fairfield. The money pooled by the ''giving circle'' will buy computers, fruit and provide other amenities for the program.

 

Living in the heart of the city but there's nowhere to learn SMH February 10, 2013

Amy McNeilage: In her first week at high school, Kenya Peterson spent more than an hour travelling to school each day. But she's not enrolled at an out-of-area school, and she does not make the trek to a private school.

The local comprehensive public high school for the year 7 student who lives in Potts Point is the Balmain campus of Sydney Secondary College, which her mother Georgina Brown thinks is ''ridiculous''.

So ridiculous, in fact, she joined the campaign for an inner-city high school a year ago.

Ms Brown and other inner-city parents say the area's lack of high schools is causing transport headaches for their teenagers. In the first week of the school year, Kenya was left to find her own way home three times when her school bus was deemed too full. ''They're just starting high school,'' Ms Brown said. ''They already have enough on their plate without having to worry about things like this.''

Transport for NSW said it would monitor the issue. ''It is always a concern if a student is left behind,'' a spokeswoman said. (Editor: This really isn’t good enough!).

 

Childish behaviour as parents worsen cyber-bullying SMH February 5, 2013

Deborah Gough, The Age: Parents who buy into their children's online disputes can continue the tirade long after their children have made up, warn bullying experts.

Judi Fallon, manager of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation's eSmart program, said parents can exacerbate cyber bullying problems between schoolchildren.

 

High school students to get new lesson on how to be money savvy SMH February 5, 2013
Daniel Hurst:
Year 7 students will learn about the pitfalls of mobile phone plans as part of a new program designed to stop youth falling into a cash trap.

With a heavy focus on ''invisible money'', the lessons include hands-on comparisons of phone contract conditions, along with discussions about whether bottled water is worth buying.

Younger students are also learning about value for money by doing exercises such as planning and preparing a breakfast for kindergarten children on a set budget.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is rolling out its financial literacy program into selected high schools this term, following its launch in primary schools last year.

 

Computer cash in lap of chaos SMH February 3, 2013

Jessica Wright: The federal government's scheme providing high school students with laptop computers is on the brink of collapse, leaving parents with hefty bills and educators with a chaotic start to the school year.

Chatswood High School principal Sue Low said her school was providing laptops to students in year 9 but the uncertainty over future plans was unsettling.

"Laptops are now just as much of the culture of education as are pens and paper," she said. "To not have certainty over how we will administer laptops to our students is very disruptive, and we need that certainty as soon as possible.''

Parents face laptop slug as funds run dry The Age February 3, 2013

 (In Victoria) Schools are already telling parents they must lease approved laptops for pupils this year, at a cost of hundreds of dollars. Some are telling students to bring their own computers, raising a raft of problems around internet capacity, security and provision of software, as well as placing pressure on low-income families.


Mining firm signs deal with school SMH February 3, 2013
Heath Aston:
A central coast high school has become the first in NSW to enter a formal partnership with a mining company in a bid to boost the quality of the workforce.

Narara Valley High will tweak parts of its curriculum for years 7 to 10 to have school leavers better equipped for the booming coal industry.


Schools to have extra classrooms as north shore enrolments jump
SMH January 31, 2013

The Department of Education and Communities is in talks with local councils over land for a new school and expanding the grounds of existing schools on the north shore, as enrolments in the area continue to surge.

Extra demountable classrooms have been brought in to several schools in the area for 2013 to cope with growing numbers of young children in the region, eating into valuable open space.

Lane Cove West, Killara, Cammeray and Chatswood are among the schools which have been allocated the extra classrooms.

Northern Sydney had by far the highest growth in public school enrolments for any Sydney region between 2007 and 2012, more than twice the rate of Western Sydney.

A range of concerned parties launched a community campaign last year to tackle the issue, and the department has formed a working group with the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents & Citizens Associations to find solutions.

 

Behaviour study aims to discover future alcoholics and drug addicts SMH January 31, 2013

Amy Corderoy: Which of the thousands of fresh-faced children starting high school this week will grow up to be the rebels?

Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW are studying more than 3000 NSW high school students to try and discover whether personality traits predispose them to drug and alcohol problems, and if early intervention can prevent them.

 

Replacement for the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge

No more singing the blues for students as competition is revived SMH January 29, 2013

Jewel Topsfield: Late last year schools were told the music had died: after more than 30 years the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge had been rolled.

To the rescue comes  The Wakakirri Secondary School Challenge

Wakakirri has been asked to create a new event to replace the cancelled Rock Eisteddfod Challenge.  The aim of the Wakakirri Secondary School Challenge is to provide secondary school students with an opportunity to explore what it takes to produce a professional event.

A public meeting is being held in NSW and in VIC for all interested teachers and students to hear about proposed changes and have input before a final decision is made.

NSW Public Meeting: 14th February (Time: 4.30pm Venue: to be confirmed)

 

Show Dates for NSW

Sydney Sports Centre: Monday 5th – Thursday 8th August 2013

 

Ted Baillieu rejects radical push to start school year in March Herald-Sun January 29, 2013 – 11.26 am

The Victorian Premier was responding to calls from an academic who said students struggled to learn on extreme days. His comments come after Monash University education senior lecturer Dr David Zyngier, a former teacher and principal, said both young pupils and teachers struggled when the temperature peaked.

As 880,000 Victorian students begin returning to class from tomorrow, Dr Zyngier said a lack of airconditioning at many state schools made the problem even worse.

 

Schools spy on suspect parents SMH January 28, 2013

Briana Domjen and Katherine Danks: School principals are enlisting the help of private investigators to catch out parents who provide false addresses to secure a place for their child at some of Sydney's top schools.

An investigations firm caught out 23 parents who were fudging enrolment paperwork last year, with families in the eastern suburbs and Mosman among the worst offenders.

And it's not just the principals using such tactics - some parents are hiring investigators to make checks on prospective rivals who also want their child to attend a certain school.

It comes amid fierce competition for places at government-run schools such as Cheltenham Girls High School, Killara High School and Epping Boys High School as well as independent schools which perform well in NAPLAN and the HSC.

 

All gifted at this school Sun-Herald January 27, 2013

Heath Aston: A school in Mosman has expanded a program for gifted children to every pupil in the school.

Under the state government's Local Schools, Local Decisions policy, Beauty Point Public School is spending $45,000 on giving all 300 students a taste of specialised tasks normally reserved for the top 10 per cent of kids at other state schools.

 

Childcare costs push some into class Sun-Herald January 27, 2013

Amy McNeilage: The high cost of childcare is believed to be a key reason parents in Sydney's south-west are more likely to send their children to school at a younger age than those in the more affluent northern suburbs.

Kindergarten classes in south-western Sydney have twice as many children under five than those in northern Sydney, enrolment figures from the Department of Education and Communities show.


Delayed start not always a good idea
Sun-Herald January 27, 2013

Cosima Marriner: Parents are increasingly delaying starting their children at school by a year, even though education experts warn holding a child back generally results in no long-term learning advantage.

As school starts back this week, up to a fifth of kindergarten students will be entering school a year later than they were eligible to attend.

 

Aspiring students thrown a lifeline Sun-Herald January 27, 2013

Melinda Ham: Pathways colleges give those with a low ATAR a second run at university.

 

Education in China

Elite Shanghai school sets the top global benchmark SMH January 26, 2013

John Garnaut, China correspondent: It takes more than ferocious tiger mothers and rote-learning children to enable Shanghai Middle School to stake its claim as the most successful in the world.

It is leading an education revolution, rolling slowly across elite schools in China's wealthy cities, by breaking out of the Confucian mould.

''We encourage students to be innovative, have their own independent thinking and command 21st century skills,'' says principal Tang Shengchang. ''The main thing is to broaden their viewpoint and open them to international ideas.''

The new emphasis has seen Shanghai students jump to the top of world tables in maths, science and literacy, say international education officials, while the performance of Australian students has declined.

Barry McGaw, former director of the education division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which conducts the PISA surveys, is now driving the new national curriculum as chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.

He says the top-performing nations can demonstrate a demanding study-ethic, as in north Asian nations, or high teacher status and salaries, as in Finland, but they all strive for and expect success.

''We've been trying to drive the level of ambition,'' says Professor McGaw, ''and we've got to raise the standard of our teachers.''

(And in Australia, we just seem to be treading water, which in real terms against other nations means going backwards – Editor)

Testing times inside the tiger's den SMH January 26, 2013

Few subjects command so much attention and create so much controversy across China as education, John Garnaut, China correspondent.

 

Cost of Schooling

Catholic parents told to expect increases as funding cut SMH January 26, 2013

Anna Patty: Cuts to education funding are contributing to an increase in student fees at Catholic schools in Sydney and forcing others in NSW to review their financial support for students to attend World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro. The Wollongong Catholic education system is reviewing the level of financial support it gives students to attend World Youth Day. (Government money should not be used to fund private overseas trips !!! – Editor)
Private fees mount as education costs soar SMH January 24, 2013 10.19 am

Jewel Topsfield, Craig Butt and Lara O'Toole: A parent whose child is born this year faces half a million dollars in school costs if they choose an independent school in Melbourne from pre-school to year 12.

The projected cost, which is likely to make parents question whether they can afford a private education, is roughly equivalent to the city's median house price.

A public education in Melbourne, while by no means free, is considerably cheaper, costing parents an estimated $65,484 by the end of 2030.

And parents whose children attend Catholic schools in Melbourne for their entire education can expect to pay an estimated $206,692.

The figures, which include fees, extra-curricular activities, clothing, travel and computer costs, have been calculated by the Australian Scholarships Group, based on an education costs survey of 14,000 parents in 2011.

Go to the article for NSW figures

$65,000 to school a child  Daily Telegraph January 24, 2013

Katherine Danks:  The cost of educating a child through public school is almost $65,000 - and is littered with hidden fees for excursions, technology and extracurricular activities.

While public education is supposed to be free, both primary and secondary schools can request contributions for education and sporting programs. Schools may also charge for the purchase of materials used in particular subjects. Parents say the real costs come from excursions, personal technology, travel and uniforms.

 

Paediatricians put a price on HSC SMH January 24, 2013

Josephine Tovey: Many HSC students who come from poorer backgrounds with medical or learning difficulties are missing out on special assistance with exams, according to paediatricians.

As reported in Fairfax Media on Wednesday, students from independent schools applied for disability provisions, which includes assistance such as rest breaks or a scribe, at almost twice the rate of public school students last year.

Dr Michael Freelander, a paediatrician at Campbelltown, said he saw ''lots of kids with disabilities who never get access to the provisions because either their parents or the school don't act on what's allowable''.

''They don't have families who can push hard enough, get the forms … take them along to doctors, interact back with the school.''


Students split on value of school SMH January 23, 2013

Daniel Hurst: Well-off school students and their disadvantaged peers are more sharply divided about the value of education in Australia than in most other developed countries.

A major new global study confirms students from higher socio-economic backgrounds are much more likely to believe school has prepared them for adult life.

Of the 34 nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australia was fourth behind the US, Mexico and Britain on a measure of this gap.

The results have renewed calls for Australia to step up its efforts to give all students confidence in the education system.

 

Unschooling truly in a class of its own SMH January 23, 2013

… … unschooled, … is a method of home schooling in which a child is free to pursue the things they want to learn without having topics and tasks forced upon them. To be legal in NSW, the method has to be approved by an inspector from the Board of Studies.

PM urged to spell out education reforms
SMH January 20, 2013

Daniel Hurst: The states have demanded the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, urgently spell out her signature education reforms amid fears time is running out to effectively implement the $6.5 billion in new spending on schools.

Uncertainty about the Gonski reform package has been highlighted by Queensland stating it may not include any extra money in its 2013-14 budget, despite Ms Gillard's desired deadline of introducing the reforms from the start of 2014.

Manoeuvring by Queensland and other states has fuelled doubts about whether a deal will be done, with key players saying the impasse needs to be sorted out within three months if the spending is to meet the deadline.

 

For-profit schools to cash in SMH January 20, 2013

Esther Han: Global education companies are planning to open Australia's first for-profit schools targeting local primary and secondary students as early as next year. Fairview Global, a for-profit schools network based in Malaysia, will send scouts to Australia within six months to find potential sites, with the aim of opening two schools next year and in 2015.

 

Campaign aims to make a difference for teachers Daily Telegraph January 17, 2013 – 12.20 pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: The ideas behind the television and cinema advertisements that kicked off the Teachers Make a Difference* campaign this week seem ordinary enough. One is about a teacher’s first day of teaching and the other is a teacher’s last.

See Teachers Make A Difference Advertisements

 

More demountables added to schools on the north shore North Shore Times January 14, 2013

Danielle Nicastri:  Students won't be the only new addition at schools when classes resume on January 29.

New demountable classrooms have been planned or installed for at least seven north shore schools to cope with enrolments this year.

 

Simple maths sums up as a prime mover SMH January 3, 2013

Jewel Topsfield: An easier maths subject will be introduced in years 11 and 12 under the national curriculum, raising fears of an exodus from the more difficult maths courses.

The Mathematical Association of NSW said there is concern the new subject - Essential Mathematics - will attract many able students turned off the less interesting and more difficult courses.

In a submission last year the association said Essential Maths was suited to students who learned maths at a slower rate and had not fully mastered the national curriculum to year 10.

It said some of its members believed Essential Mathematics should not contribute to the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, as more ''able'' students may be attracted to it for ''easy reward'' rather than attempting more challenging courses of more value in later studies.

 

Dud teachers are doing damage Daily Telegraph December 27, 2012

Bruce McDougall : Incompetent teachers on salaries of up to $100,000 have been allowed to stay in the classroom while Australian students slide down the international rankings in literacy and numeracy, a former NSW deputy director-general claims.

Trevor Fletcher, in charge of the state's schools for six years until 2010, claimed the failure to weed out dud teachers was inflicting "damage on young people and the status of education" in Australia.

Mr Fletcher, now running a large high school in South Australia, said the federal government's aim to get Australia back into the world's top five education nations by 2025 was a "sad joke".

"The truth is that not long ago we were in the top five," he said. "We need to fully understand that we have lost our way and get serious about addressing the real concerns.

"The national research highlighting the fundamental importance of quality teaching has been clearly articulated for many years but our governments have only ever paid lip service to the key findings."

Mr Fletcher said too many schools were led by "absent landlords and landladies" - principals who spent much of their time at conferences or collegial gatherings nominating each other for awards.

"I have encountered far too many situations where clearly incompetent teachers are still being passed around from school to school to inflict more damage on vulnerable students," he said.

 

Suspensions 'ineffective, unfair' SMH December 23, 2012

Anna Patty: A statewide survey of youth workers has found the vast majority believe students are being unfairly suspended from school and question the effectiveness of NSW policies.

The research by the Youth Action and Policy Association, found the reasons for suspensions included retaliating against a bully, arriving late to school on a regular basis, swearing and truanting.

It also found that there was a lack of understanding of the impact of homelessness and mental health problems on students who were suspended and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander children and those with disabilities and behavioural issues were overrepresented.


Something a little rank about our test fixation Daily Telegraph December 19, 2012 – 5.20 pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: Last week we lamented Australia’s performance in international tests. Everyone had different ideas about why we were going downhill but agreed our school children had to get better results.

This week in NSW we tell school leavers not to worry about HSC scores. Life is full of alternate pathways and second chances.

 

Intrepid comprehensive breaks into list of elites SMH December 20, 2012

The principal of Willoughby Girls High School is retiring this week on a high note, knowing she led the highest-ranked comprehensive public school in the state on the Herald's annual list of top performing schools as judged by HSC results.

The top eight schools were all academically selective public schools, led by James Ruse Agricultural High School, which was expecting a median Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of more than 99.

 

University entry score devalued by use of bonus point schemes SMH December 20, 2012

The ATAR, the scaled number which ranks students' HSC mark against their peers, is less important than ever.

The number of students claiming educational disadvantage for a boost of up to 10 points to their university selection rank has increased 26 per cent in the past three years, while the number of NSW and ACT applicants with early round offers before publication of this year's ATARs is up by at least 30 per cent on last year to nearly 8000.

 

Their numbers are up: girls scoop the pool in HSC maths SMH December 19, 2012

New breed of alpha girls dominates the HSC class of 2012 Daily Telegraph December 19, 2012

 

Performance of Australian Schools vs other countries

Year 7 students are slipping in maths SMH December 19, 2012

Jewel Topsfield: Year 7 students have become worse at maths since the introduction of national literacy and numeracy tests five years ago, according to the latest national snapshot.

NAPLAN was designed to assist schools to identify areas of weakness, monitor improvements and enable education systems to target resources where they are most needed.

However, the 2012 NAPLAN report reveals results have remained flat between 2008 and 2012 in many of the tests, which assess about a million students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 every May.

The great race to the top of the class SMH December 15, 2012

Australia faces a huge battle to catch up with other nations, write Josephine Tovey and Amy McNeilage.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, wants Australia in the top five in these tests by 2025. The task has been set for Australian children to compete with Korean, Finnish and Singaporean children in 13 years.

One approach to competing with these countries will be learning from their success. Most have not always performed so well, but introduced reform has turned their results around. But experts say we should avoid their worst excesses.

The chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Professor Geoff Masters, says it would be a mistake to simply imitate the education systems of high-ranking countries.

An education analyst Ben Jensen at the Grattan Institute recently wrote a paper on the success of east Asian education systems, and what Australia can learn from them … … this strategy is exemplified by Hong Kong, which went from 17th in the reading exam (PIRLS) just more than a decade ago, to first place this year.

At the turn of the millennium, Hong Kong embarked on comprehensive education reform.

High-stakes public exams were binned, in favour of school-based assessments such as oral presentations and projects. The focus of teachers was switched from what children learn to how they learn it.

Children in Hong Kong once learnt to read and write by endlessly copying Chinese characters. Under the reforms, there was a new focus on speaking, listening, and trying to foster a love of reading. Parental education played a role, with mums and dads learning how to develop their child's interest in reading.

 

Kids 'addicted' to fast food app Daily Telegraph December 17, 2012

Dietitians are pushing to ban a smartphone app that dishes out free hamburgers and fries at Hungry Jacks restaurants, saying children are becoming addicted to the promotion and are putting their health at risk.

 

Teacher quality under scrutiny SMH December 13, 2012

Josephine Tovey The quality of teaching, especially in primary schools, must be urgently addressed if Australia is to improve its dismal performance in international tests, experts say.

 

Time to declare war on illiteracy SMH December 13, 2012

Russell Marks: Anybody who has taught undergraduate university humanities courses during the past decade knows the depth of Australia's literary deficit.

For years, tutors and lecturers who grade written work by first-year students have been shaking their heads at students' inability to write.

I don't mean an inability to build and sustain complex arguments through 5000-word essays, or an inability to critically analyse discursive constructs in order to identify dominant ideological frames. Teaching these high-level analytical skills should be the normal business of university humanities departments.

What I mean is that a majority of 18-year-olds who enrol in most first-year humanities subjects are unable to reliably construct a simple sentence.


Second chances - life lesson more important than HSC
SMH December 18, 2012

Josephine Tovey: While her former classmates were studying for their Higher School Certificate and anxiously awaiting their results, Sally Dowling was waitressing in cafes, acting in the theatre and working as a bookie's clerk at a racecourse.

Ms Dowling left North Sydney Girls High School at the beginning of year 11 after her marks ''went downhill''. After three years doing odd jobs she took herself off to TAFE to do her HSC. At 43, she is a successful Crown Prosecutor.

At high school, Dr Rosie Ross was told by one teacher, ''You're not very smart, you're not going to get very far in life''.

She also left school in year 11, and only decided to go back and finish high school at 42. She worked hard beside students half her age, and won a place to study medicine at the University of NSW at 45.

Now, at 53, she relishes every day as a doctor.


Annual lockdowns part of the drill in NSW schools
SMH December 19, 2012

Dijana Damjanovic: Children as young as four practise lockdown drills in schools across NSW. The Department of Education introduced the drills for kindergarten to year 12 about a decade ago to ensure safety in the face of threats on school grounds and in the surrounding area.

The drills are held at least once a year and police are informed before the exercise ''so that members of the public do not become alarmed,'' said a department spokesman.


Bullied students fall behind in class
SMH December 12, 2012

Benjamin Preiss: Australian students who say they are bullied often at school perform poorly compared with students who feel safe.

New international tests on reading, maths and science found the academic performance of year 4 students dropped significantly when they experienced frequent bullying.

Fix the great divide in Australian schooling and rankings will follow Daily Telegraph December 12, 2012 – 5.22pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: For the past twenty years Australia has been increasingly running a two-tiered schooling system and we are now paying the price.

The latest international measures in maths, science and reading literacy show us so far down the rankings that we are now performing at a level similar to Slovenia, Serbia and the Czech Republic.

Our top educators have been telling us for years we were digging ourselves into a hole and governments have ignored them.

Even Slovenia and the Czech Republic are not stupid enough to plough millions of public money into their wealthiest schools - where it makes no difference to standards - while their neediest school are neglected.

 

Schools left in limbo by lack of principals SMH December 12, 2012

Anna Patty: A lauded strategy to give unprecedented authority to 15 new ''super'' principals at the state's most disadvantaged schools has left communities in limbo before the start of the new year.

The state government has appointed just four of 15 executive principals who were to be hired on salaries of $200,000 a year in an attempt to reverse an entrenched culture of low expectations and poor results. They are offered a $50,000 performance bonus at the end of their contract, making them the highest-paid public principals in the state.


Student testing to step up notch
SMH December 12, 2012

Opinion: Martin Dixon – Minister for Education in Victoria

Setting the bar too low is no way to improve pupils' performance long-term.

Today we measure NAPLAN tests by the number of students failing to meet the national minimum standard. The problem is that the national minimum standard is so low that achieving it virtually guarantees Victorian students will fall further and further behind their neighbours in Asia, Scandinavia and Canada.

 

PM's education goals mired in underachievement SMH December 11, 2012

Opinion: Professor Geoff Masters - chief executive, Australian Council for Educational Research.

In her address to the National Press Club in September, the Prime Minister set an ambitious goal for the nation: to be ranked as a top-five country in reading, mathematics and science by 2025. In setting this goal, Julia Gillard noted how education was able to transform the lives of individuals and how the quality of a country's educational institutions affected national economic performance. “To win the economic race,” the Prime Minister observed, “we must first win the education race”.

International test results released this week highlight the magnitude of the challenge we face in achieving this goal … the findings are sobering. Australian year 4 students were significantly outperformed by students in 21 countries in reading, 17 countries in mathematics and 18 countries in science. At year 8, Australia was significantly outperformed by six countries in mathematics and nine countries in science.

Genuine and sustainable school improvement depends on old-fashioned capacity building. For governments, this means raising the status of teaching as a career, attracting highly able people into teaching, ensuring that all teachers have expertise in the subjects they teach, developing teachers' skills in using effective teaching techniques and providing career paths to keep outstanding teachers in classrooms.

School improvement also depends on building the capacities of school leaders to establish and lead improvement agenda, marshal the support of school communities, create cultures of high expectations, build and lead professional teaching teams and promote the use of effective, evidence-based teaching in every classroom, every day.

 

Australian educators told to question research underpinning current ideas about schooling SMH December 5, 2012 – 6.46 pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: If you believe we could spend less on schools and get better results or that Shanghai has the best maths teachers, it is time to think again.

Our current ideas about education need to be severely questioned according to one of Australia’s education superstars, because many are based on shonky or incomplete research.

University of South Australia’s Emeritus Professor, Alan Reid, speaking at an education researchers’ conference in Sydney this week, pointed out the research showing Shanghai is top of the world in maths does not take into account that out-of-school tutoring is rife in Asian countries.

Every child who sat international tests making Shanghai schooling a world winner could have been doing more work out of school than in school to get such high results.

 

We need look only to Australia's past to give public education a future SMH December 4, 2012

Opinion: Former High Court judge Michael Kirby who will receive the NSW Department of Education's Meritorious Service to Public Education Award on Tuesday.

It is time for Australians to rediscover the original ideals and optimism of public education. Because of pressure groups and wedge politics, the grand objectives have been forgotten or frustrated of late. Where did we go wrong? How can we reverse our present direction?

laws and budgetary allocations will not ultimately change Australia's educational doldrums. Such initiatives must be accompanied by a revival of the idealism and optimism of the movement that created Australia's public school system in the first place. Nothing less than a confident return to the idealism of those early days will do. Rebuilding public education in Australia is in the interest of us all.

Capacity crisis set to worsen in north SMH November 27, 2012

Sarah Whyte: It was like a scene out of Yes Minister at last night's meeting at Willoughby Girls' High School as 200 angry parents, members of Parliament, mayors and local councillors converged to debate the capacity crisis in northern Sydney schools.

there was only one answer the parents and teachers wanted to know: Where is the space for their children to be educated?
The president of the Willoughby Girls High School P&C, Steph Croft, told a cheering audience public schools on the lower to mid-north shore had the fastest growth of student numbers in the state. ''There has been complete lack of planning in 15 years,'' she said.

The lower north shore has experienced a 23 per cent growth in student numbers in the past six years, according to Ms Croft.

''The situation will continue to deteriorate as the state government's Sydney metropolitan plan will force another 44,000 new residential dwellings into the lower north shore area.''

School review urges overhaul of design standards SMH November 27, 2012

Anna Patty: Forty-year-old design standards for NSW public schools have left sports high schools without enough showers, agricultural high schools lacking agriculture equipment and regular schools having outdated tape decks and video equipment.

The first major review of NSW public school design and building standards since their introduction in the 1970s has also found a public boarding school without internet access, despite requiring students to use the internet for their homework.

The review, obtained by Fairfax Media, has urged that the ''one size, fits all'' standards be overhauled and updated to meet the needs of today's students.

State looks at plans to cope with expanding schools SMH November 26, 2012

Anna Patty: Twenty-seven P&C groups have joined forces to campaign for new facilities and will hold a public meeting on Monday night at Willoughby Girls High School.

The MP for Willoughby, Gladys Berejiklian, will join local mayors and representatives from teacher and school principal associations at the meeting. Willoughby and North Sydney councils have postponed their regular Monday night meetings to attend the community meeting.

The president of the Willoughby Girls High School P&C, Steph Croft, said public schools on the lower to mid north shore ''are now in crisis, experiencing the worst overcrowding and lack of capacity … in the state''.

All comprehensive high schools and most primary schools were now full and an alliance of 27 local public school P&C associations was calling for capital works funding to increase capacity, Ms Croft said.

 

School groups give Premier an F over budget cuts SMH November 19, 2012

Anna Patty: An unprecendented coalition of 11 education groups representing public, independent and Catholic schools has accused the state government of evading its legal and ethical responsibilities to provide a quality education to all children.

New TAFE position slammed SMH November 19, 2012

Around 3000 people gathered in Sydney to protest $1.7 billion cuts to eductation funding Daily Telegraph November 19, 2012

3000 protest in Sydney over education cuts SMH November 18, 2012 – 12.58pm

"What you'll see here today is a groundswell of public opinion against these cuts - parents, teachers and the wider community coming together to say these cuts cannot be justified," Opposition Leader John Robertson told the crowd.
NSW government remains firm on education cuts
SMH November 18, 2012 – 11.47am

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli says a protest in Sydney over education cuts will do nothing to change the government's mind.

Premier Barry O'Farrell is slashing the state's education spending by $1.7 billion, impacting on schools, public and private, as well as TAFEs.

The government has remained firm since it made the announcement in September, despite criticism from teachers and the risk of industrial action.

"Of course we have heard the message," Mr Piccoli told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

"We are in difficult budget times and I think the responsible thing to do is to take measures in the back office, in the bureaucracy, to make sure we've got those dollars to invest in the front line," he said.

"This year we've got more than 500 more teachers than we had last year."

 

National campaign warns schools they could be short-changed $600 for every student Sunday Telegraph November 18, 2012

Samantha Maiden:Labor MPs will kick-start a national campaign this week warning schools risk being short-changed (an average of) $600 for every student - $2 billion in total - unless the parliament embraces a new funding deal.

According to the data, private schools would be the biggest losers, because they are forecast to lose $1.4 billion over four years under the current arrangements or $1,100 per student.

Public schools are forecast to lose $700 million or $300 on average per student.

Education Minister Peter Garrett will release the new modelling today urging the Coalition to back a new needs-based funding model.

"This new modelling reveals schools could be more than $2 billion worse off unless changes are made to the funding system designed by the Howard government," Mr Garrett said.

 

New Greens bill to enforce seatbelts on country schoolbuses Daily Telegraph November 18, 2012

Linda Silmalis: School children travelling on country buses will be forced to wear seatbelts under a Greens bill to be introduced into the state parliament later this week. Under existing road rules, restraints are mandatory for passengers travelling on coaches - but children are exempt on bus routes.

 

Teachers on report: pupils to give ratings SMH November 18, 2012

Farrah Tomazin: Students in Victoria will be asked to rate their teachers and the results will be used to push underperforming schools to lift their game.

In a move that has reignited tensions with the teachers union, the Victorian state government will survey students on how their teachers perform, and then use the information to shape the way staff should improve in the classroom.

The president of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, Frank Sal, welcomed the changes. He said ''performance management'' was not a new concept, but ought to be streamlined, and ''getting feedback from students should really be a component of that. Teachers need to recognise that they need to be involved in performance development in an ongoing way so they really meet the needs of their kids.''

Parents Victoria spokeswoman Gail McHardy said it was critical for students to have a voice in shaping their education. Being surveyed and interviewed about their teachers' performance ''gives them the opportunity to share what things are working and where things may need to be further explored'', she said.

Policy paper proposes:

Creating a code of conduct for parents as a condition of enrolment.

Head-hunting business leaders to drive reform in schools.

Clearer report cards for students and an ''uncluttering'' of the school curriculum.

Getting principals to review each others' performance and hold one another to account.

The policy paper is underpinned by the Coalition's desire to give principals greater autonomy and make schools more accountable for their results.

See Victorian Government's policy paper Towards Victoria as a Learning Community

The teacher's teacher SMH November 17, 2012

A single comment on a report card helped shape this educator's career, writes Linda Morris.

Professor Robyn Ewing holds unorthodox views on teaching and learning, her commitment to child-centred learning and teacher innovation challenging ''overly'' prescriptive approaches to our national curriculum, teaching standards, testing and reporting. Given her way, she would let teachers creatively adapt the curriculum to the passions and needs of the class they teach.

Is she subversive? ''I like to think I'm an innovator,'' she responds, selecting her words carefully with a hint of amusement on her face.

 

Grand ideas, but where is the money? SMH November 16, 2012

Ken Merrigan – Comment – The Age Education Editor: Who’d be a state school principal? Long hours, angry parents, bolshie teachers, loads of responsibility. No wonder many school leadership positions are proving hard to fill.

 

Nothing binding in Gonski bill: Pyne SMH November 16, 2012

Bianca Hall: The Gonski legislation contains no legally enforceable obligations on the states or school sector, a draft shows - but the government says they will be added later.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, who distributed a leaked copy of the draft legislation yesterday, dubbed the draft legislation ''all foam and no beer''. ''This is not an act, it is inaction,'' Mr Pyne said. ''Nothing in it is binding.''

Piccoli won't support bill based on Gonski review SMH November 15, 2012

Anna Patty, Bianca Hall: A row has broken out between the state and federal governments over a new system of schools funding on the eve of its introduction to Federal Parliament later this month.

Even after the federal government introduces the landmark legislation, key details about the level of funding and indexation - and how much the states and territories will be expected to pay - will remain unanswered.

 

No room for ball games or running at north shore's crowded schools

Mosman Daily November 16, 2012

Parents say overcrowded public schools are being forced to give up play space to demountables to cope with growing student numbers.

The cramped playgrounds have led to an increase in playground injuries, according to executive member of the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents and Citizens Association Steph Croft.

Ms Croft said there had been an explosion in student numbers on the north shore in the past six years - Neutral Bay Public School has had a 36 per cent increase in enrolments while North Sydney Demonstration School has been forced to accommodate an extra 170 students.

Crowded schools' fun ban: No ball games or running for students in booming primary schools News Limited Network November 16, 2012 4:14PM

Simone Roberts, Mosman Daily: Parents say overcrowded public schools on Sydney's north shore are being forced to give up play space to demountables to cope with growing student numbers. Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents and Citizens Association executive member Steph Croft said cramped playgrounds had led to an increase in playground injuries.

 

In praise of earning self-esteem SMH November 15, 2012

Harry Wallop isn't convinced that people do better when constantly complimented.

 

Rewiring the brain to learn SMH November 5, 2012
Elisabeth Tarica:
A controversial treatment for people with learning disabilities is gaining traction in Australia.
(Canadian Arrowsmith Program)

Debra Gilmore knows better than most the anguish, despair and frustration felt by children with learning disabilities and their parents. It goes with her job, as head of diverse learning needs at the Catholic Education Office in Sydney. It also goes with her experience as a mother.

Her son Robert, now 17, has struggled since he was three with a receptive language disorder, a condition that causes him to grapple with the most basic instructions, leaving him frustrated and angry as he fell behind academically.


Boom in demand for after hours school care Daily Telegraph November 3, 2012

Katherine Danks: Parents are offering bribes - or being forced to show proof of working hours - to get their children into limited out-of-school hours care.

A crisis point in raising children Daily Telegraph November 3, 2012

Editorial: One of the burdens of democracy is that politics becomes cyclical. Decisions are made and then unmade, policies are implemented and then reversed. Children are the foundation stone of our society. For most of us our relationships and our values are shaped by them and for them. They inform when we work and where we live.

Now, as revealed today in one of the most important stories of our time, it appears we have reached a crisis point in our capacity to raise our children. Not as individuals or families mind you, but as a society.

 

Asian language plan calls for smart thinking Daily Telegraph October 31, 2012 (5.25 pm)

Maralyn Parker –article and blog: Most of us seem to like Julia Gillard’s idea to introduce Asian language studies from kindergarten to every Australian child.

The earlier you start, the easier it is to learn another language, and learning a second language helps with your first language - because it makes you think about how language works. It is good for developing thinking skills in general.

None of this has stopped the usual naysayers coming up with their lists of reasons it won’t work, however.

I can imagine anyone who sat through those tiresome Japanese lessons in junior high school a decade or so ago might think it is difficult. I have to point out it is still compulsory to learn another language in either Year 7 or 8 in NSW - way too late to turn children on to a new language.

The world of teaching and learning has moved on from only a decade ago. Learning a language today is easier and more fun than it has ever been.

Now there are interconnected classrooms locally, nationally and internationally. The online universe abounds with virtual worlds, exciting new educational games and endless opportunities to play in safe spaces.

Then there is the technology to share teachers and expertise as they have never been shared before.

There certainly won’t be a need for an Asian language teacher in every one of the ten thousand schools across Australia to make Gillard’s plan happen.

 

It’s raining money

NSW Auditor-General's Report to Parliament 31 October 2012

NSW's surprise surplus after $1b budget error ABC News October 31, 2012

State political reporter Sarah Gerathy:The Auditor-General has revealed that the New South Wales Government has made a $1 billion mistake in its sums, and the budget is actually in surplus.

Peter Achterstraat's audit of the state's finances found that data entry errors, mistakes in spreadsheets and poor reconciliations were responsible for much of the disparity in projections.

There were 37 errors of more than $20 million each.

When the Treasurer Mike Baird delivered the budget in June, he forecast a deficit of $337 million.

But Mr Achterstraat says with the corrected figures, the budget is in surplus by $680 million.

He says the poor accounting is not acceptable.

"The NSW Government is a billion-dollar business, it's not a school tuck shop."

$1b error: NSW swings from deficit to surplus SMH October 31, 2012 -1.28pm

Anna Patty: The government had allowed the budget deficit to bounce around "like a pinball machine", said Peter Achterstraat as he announced a budget result that was $1 billion better than predicted in the 2012-13 budget papers published in June 2012.

The NSW government has revenue of about $60 billion a year and employs nearly 400,000 public servants.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird says $1 billion accounting error will not see him reconsider service cuts Daily Telegraph October 31, 2012 - 3.04pm

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird says the government will not reconsider billions in cuts to education and health despite the auditor-general finding the state's budget is actually in surplus.

The NSW budget is $1 billion better off than announced in June with massive data and accounting errors largely to blame, the NSW Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat's latest report has revealed.

 

Australia in the Asian Century

Target Asia: education the key SMH October 29, 2012

Phillip Coorey:  Every school will be made to teach at least one priority Asian language under a national Asian studies curriculum, as part of a comprehensive embrace of the region aimed at exploiting its rapidly growing wealth over the next decade-and-a-half.

Launching the white paper Australia in the Asian Century yesterday, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said the curriculum changes would be compulsory in return for state and territory governments and private school organisations receiving Commonwealth funding for education which was soon to be boosted.

"Success for an open Australia in a middle-class Asia starts in the classrooms, training centres and lecture theatres in our nation,'' Ms Gillard said.

A sound vision needs real funding SMH Editorial October 29, 2012

THE Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has adopted a strikingly optimistic tone with the launch of yesterday's white paper, Australia in the Asian Century. No longer is our geography a curse but a boon, she argues, because our proximity to the burgeoning middle classes of India and China will put us in a prime position to meet the demand of those populations for high-quality goods and services.

As the paper points out, true national security has as much to do with trusted networks and deep and broad channels for dialogue as it does with defence spending. The provision of Hindi as a priority language for study in schools is a bold and welcome move. But as with the broader ambitions for Asian language study, urgent steps are needed to build the dwindling cadre of qualified teachers.

Julia Gillard reveals plan to 'Asianise' Australia news.com.au October 29, 2012

Mark Kenny: Julia Gillard has outlined an ambitious plan to "Asianise" the Australian economy and education system to tap into the vast middle-class markets that will emerge in China, India and Indonesia in the next two decades.

The vision, much of which is already underway, includes plans to free up tourist and business travel within the region, to lift Australia's tax-free threshold "to at least $21,000", to scrap inefficient state taxes such as stamp duty and to have Australian schools engage with at least one Asian school to promote language learning.

It would also provide Australian students with continuous training in Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese throughout their schooling.

Students will engage with Asian languages in Julia Gillard's plan Daily Telegraph October 29, 2012

Phillip Hudson: Teaching every student a key Asian language and making every school have a sister-school in Asia is at the heart of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's plan for Australia to win from global change.

The white paper goal to make Australia an "Asia-capable workforce" starts with children in kindergarten and runs through their school years to university and beyond.

Ms Gillard announced every student from kindergarten to Year 12 would be given the choice to study at least one of four priority Asian languages - Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese. They would also learn Asian history and culture to acquire a "sound working knowledge of Asia".
Every Australian school will also be required to have a partnership with one in Asia. The report praises Leongatha Primary School where students use Skype to connect to a class in Jakarta.

Ambitious goals will demand big change SMH October 29, 2012

Matt Wade: By the end of next decade there'll be 3 billion middle-class consumers in our region - about six times more than there are now. The Asian century white paper maps out ways for Australia to capitalise on this tsunami of new spending power building on our doorstep.

Our economic guardians at Treasury say that, for Australia, the impact of Asia's historic transformation is occurring in three waves.

The third, and potentially most significant, wave will result from higher demand for high-quality products and services, particularly education, tourism and business services, as Asia's middle class grows bigger and richer.

Language studies plan backed despite high cost SMH October 29, 2012

Benjamin Preiss: The Federal Government's plan to allow all students to study an Asian language would cost billions of dollars, an Asia policy expert says.

Swinburne University Asian policy Professor Ken Chern praised the government's ''ambitious'' strategy to build stronger ties with Asia but said it would require a major commitment.

Language policy will cost nation 'billions' SMH October 29, 2012

Professor Ken Chern praised the government's ''ambitious'' strategy to strengthen ties with Asia but said it would require a major financial commitment.

 

Bashed schoolboy loses his payout SMH October 29, 2012

Louise Hall: A western Sydney high school student who suffered brain damage after a fellow student attacked him has had a $318,000 compensation payout overturned on appeal.

 

Victoria: New rules for private schools SMH October 28, 2012

The Federal and Victorian governments have vowed to do more to prevent the closure of private schools, and are considering joint investigations of at-risk schools, tighter financial oversight and greater state intervention powers, following the shock collapse of two Melbourne secondary colleges.

 

'Too controversial' schools lecture invitation dropped - Victoria SMH October 27, 2012

Benjamin Preiss: One of the world's leading education scholars has had his invitation to speak to Victorian principals revoked amid fears that his views on performance pay ''may be too controversial''.

 

North shore schools take overcrowding fight to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli North Shore Times October 24, 2012

Rohan Smith: The  push to fund new classrooms in north shore schools was taken to the office of the Education Minister last week.

Adrian Piccoli met with local P&C members on Thursday to hear first-hand accounts about the overcrowding crisis.

He was joined by P&C presidents from Willoughby Public School, Willoughby Girls High and Mosman High and the chairman of the school council at Cammeray Public School.

North Shore and Willoughby ministers Jillian Skinner and Gladys Berejiklian were in attendance, along with senior department officials.

 

The mess of NSW public school fee policy Daily Telegraph October 17, 2012 (5.19 pm)

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: The NSW Government should put public school fees on its list as it overhauls education policies across the state.

The current policy is confusing and ineffective. Some schools that could, never collect fees and others are draconian in the measures they take to get paid. There are no clear guidelines about what could be compulsory charges and how schools should go about setting amounts.

The amount of contributions collected by each public school for 2011 can be found HERE

 

How our schools compare to the world's biggest SMH October 23, 2012

In sheer size alone, NSW’s most popular schools are not a patch on the world’s biggest. India’s City Montessori School has a roll-call of more than 45,000 students, 2500 teachers, 3700 computers and 1000 classrooms – granting it the Guinness World Records title for biggest school this week.

By comparison, the state’s biggest school is small fry: Northern Beaches Secondary College had 3751 enrolments across five campuses last year – the only school in NSW to top 3000 pupils.

A tally of school enrolments in 2011 by the NSW Department of Education has found the state’s top 10 schools by size were:

1. Northern Beaches College, 3751
2. Georges River College, 2612
3. Tuggerah Lakes College, 2553
4. Chifley College, 2490
5. Nirimba College, 2472
6. Callaghan College, 2132
7. Pymble Ladies’ College, 2124
8. Cherrybrook Technology High School, 2037
9. Malek Fahd Islamic School, 2007
10. Barker College, 1933

The title of the state’s smallest school was shared by Ebor Public School and Sherwood Cliffs School, which each had only two students enrolled last year.

 

High-rise plans for city's most cramped schools Daily Telegraph October 18, 2012

Katherine Danks: Classrooms will be built amid apartments and shops in a revolutionary new style of school being canvassed by the state government.

Ultimo Public School featured.

Think of the principals involved in selling off schools, Barry Daily Telegraph October 17, 2012 (5.19 pm)

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: Anyone who has ever come up against a community mobilized by an issue influencing their school knows how powerful school communities can be.

Inner city citizens can be particularly politically savvy as Ultimo public school parents are about to display in their showdown with the state government over the appalling proposed sale of part of their school grounds to fund a new high rise school.

 

O'Farrell slashes 85 Staff and Millions from the Board of Studies - as part of $1.7 Billion cut to education in NSW The International News Magazine October 16, 2012

Story replicated from a NSW ALP Media Release.

 

Victorian Principal hits out at 'useless testing' SMH October 15, 2012

Kevin Pope, the principal of Meadow Heights Primary School, says the standardised tests, which are held every May in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, do not contribute positively to education.

''It dumbs down learning and narrows the curriculum. What about thinking, curiosity, music? Its narrow Anglo focus also means it's not inclusive,'' Mr Pope says in a set of papers to be launched tonight as part of the Say No to NAPLAN campaign.

 

Big term looms for state's principals SMH October 8, 2012

Anna Patty: School principals will start choosing one out of every two new staff members from today at the start of what Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said will be a ''big'' school term for public education.

''The most significant thing that happens on the first day of term is that principals can select every second member of their own staff,'' Mr Piccoli said.

Half of a school's staff will continue to be selected through the department of education's incentive transfer system.

''We are making it more attractive for teachers to go west,'' Mr Piccoli said. ''They will be given higher priority [in the transfer system].''

Also from today, 229 schools will start testing a new schools funding system in NSW. ''So, fourth term is a big term in public education,'' Mr Piccoli said.

Mr Piccoli, who recently announced a $1.7 billion cut to the NSW education budget, said his department had reduced the cost of consultancies by two thirds this year, compared with last year. Together with a range of strategies, this will save $200 million in administration costs.

Professional teacher associations are expected to be recruited to help provide support for teachers to introduce the new national curriculum in 2014.

Mr Piccoli is expected to announce a strategy to provide the professional development later this week. ''I am very conscious of the need to support teachers in schools as we implement the national curriculum in 2014,'' he said.

 

Students left to their own devices SMH October 8, 2012 Worth a read

Linda Morris: While technology could revolutionise learning, budget constraints are impeding its uptake.

… … … Both Scratch and the Boogie Board are being used by students of Mowbray Public School in Lane Cove for different educational outcomes. The Boogie Board helps students' fine-motor skills and is useful for small-group activities, maths games and in brainstorming sessions.

A Wednesday lunchtime group of 20 year 5 and 6 boys is using Scratch graphics and art to create simple games. ''They share their ideas and mentor each other on a group blog, working on their games at school and at home,'' the assistant principal, Sarah Critoph, says. Next term, Mowbray will hold its first gaming day, where students from kindergarten to year 6 will play the boys' games throughout the day.

''Scratch is also being used in our gifted and talented programs this year,'' Critoph says. ''Early stage 1 and stage 1 [kindergarten and year 1] students are using Scratch for storytelling, while stage 2 and 3 [years 3 and 4] students are designing apps for people requiring communication support. The problem-based learning approach engages students in solving real-life issues with a clear purpose.''

For a decade or longer, Australian schools have been said to be on the cusp of technological revolution. But for all the promises of a paradigm shift in the chalk-and-talk mode of teaching, of more flexible and interactive forms of learning and the breaking down of walls between school and the wider world, the classroom looks much as it ever did, give or take a whiteboard or classroom computer.

 

Minding your language a virtual reality - Victoria SMH October 7, 2012

Farrah Tomazin: The Victorian state government will resort to using ''virtual classrooms'' - where multiple schools share the same teacher over the internet - as it may not have enough qualified staff to fulfil its promise to teach every child a second language.

Before the last state election, Ted Baillieu promised a languages revival in which every Victorian student up to year 10 would be required to take on a language by 2025, starting with prep in 2015. But with department figures showing almost 60 per cent of secondary school students do not study a language - and almost a third of primary schools don't offer them - the government concedes it will have to get creative to deliver its goal. Instead, more schools might have to use videoconferencing, where students from different classes tune in to a real-time lesson being conducted by a teacher at another school.

Some classes have already adopted this method - Dimboola Memorial Secondary College provides German to about eight primary schools; Mount Clear Secondary College provides Chinese to about seven primary schools - but the program will be vastly expanded over the next few years as the government moves to arrest the decline of languages in Victoria.

 

Global guests from China, US and Papua New Guinea visit north shore schools North Shore Times October 8, 2012

Danielle Nicastri: Lindfield Public and St Ives High School


Year 4 pupils in indecent assault claim SMH October 7, 2012

Rachel Browne, Lisa Davies: Police have investigated an allegation of indecent assault involving young students at an exclusive private boys school on Sydney's north shore.

 

Extra students to be squeezed into existing schools SMH October 6, 2012

Anna Patty: The average primary school class size will increase from 24 to 31, according to the NSW Opposition.

Infrastructure NSW this week recommended that 90 per cent of the extra 250,000 students expected over the next 20 years should be squeezed into existing schools.

Opposition leader John Robertson yesterday said this would increase the existing student population of 752,000 by 225,000 - an increase of 30 per cent.

The NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who recently announced a $1.7 billion cut in the education budget, has guaranteed that class sizes will not increase between now and 2016.

The opposition spokeswoman for education, Carmel Tebbutt, said the government last year reported 400 new schools would be needed in NSW over the next 15 years. However the Infrastructure NSW report says just 29 new schools are expected to be built, including eight in regional areas, in the next decade.

 

Schools must find space for 225,000 more students SMH October 4, 2012

Anna Patty: An extra 225,000 students expected in NSW over the next 20 years will have to squeeze into existing schools, creating pressure to increase class sizes, a report has found. An infrastructure taskforce recommended 90 per cent of an extra 250,000 students should be taught in existing schools.

Download State Infrastucture Strategy – “First Things First

Quotes from the report:
(Page 11): Infrastructure NSW’s assessment of the State’s existing

infrastructure has highlighted critical infrastructure deficiencies in urban road capacity. It has also identified major deficiencies in the capacity of bus and train services to the CBD, regional rail, regional water and wastewater, flood mitigation and in the capacity of hospitals and schools.

(Page 12) Social Infrastructure

Population growth means that NSW’s school population will continue to rise. Infrastructure NSW recommends that 90 percent of additional places are accommodated within existing schools, leveraging the existing infrastructure and achieving the better learning outcomes associated with larger schools.

(Page 32)A broad range of hard and soft infrastructure is needed to support a growing innovative economy, such as world class broadband  communications, investment in vocational and skills education, improved connectivity for export and import of skills. Automating “hard”  infrastructure - roads, bridges, railways, electricity networks, hospitals and schools - can achieve significant productivity gains through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in infrastructure

design, operation and optimisation. A major study has found that this could improve existing infrastructure performance (lowering operation costs and increasing capital utilisation) by 15 percent.

(Page 42) Schools Issues

––Maintenance around 1.5 percent of asset value needs to be supplemented by higher minor works capital.

––Utilisation of primary schools above 100 percent in metropolitan areas.

––Existing facilities designs do not reflect technology-driven changes to how teaching and learning occur.

(Page 51) School populations in Global Sydney are expected to grow by 15 percent and demand is expected to grow by 17 percent in the next

ten years. This is discussed Section 14.

(Page 53) Five key priorities - Infrastructure NSW has identified five infrastructure

priorities to support this rapidly growing region - including:

  new schools and hospitals in growing suburbs

(Page 56) Infrastructure Deficiencies – Sydney North - … … school

Capacity. Also identified in Sydney West Central and Sydney South West.

(Page 62) 4.4.5 Education

School populations in Greater Sydney are growing at twice the rate of the rest of NSW, reflecting high levels of population growth as shown in Table 4.3. Parts of the Greater Sydney area are experiencing very high capacity utilisation in primary schools including the Northern region (110 percent) (works planned Lindfield UTS site and other unspecified), West Central region (104.5 percent), and South West (103 percent).

A large program of work to expand the capacity of existing schools is planned, in addition to new schools across the metropolitan area.

Sydney’s education infrastructure needs are discussed in more detail in Section 14.

(Page 173) Summary – Section 14.

• NSW’s school population is expected to grow by around 250,000 in the next 20 years, with more than a million students in 2031.

• Infrastructure NSW’s recommended strategy is for 90 percent of new students to be accommodated in existing schools, leveraging the existing infrastructure, with some conversions to renew the portfolio of education without increasing its

footprint. Increasing the average size of schools makes better use of existing assets and provides better learning outcomes.

• In addition, 29 new schools, including eight in regional areas, are expected to be built across NSW in the next 10 years.

• A new classroom design for technology driven teaching methods and learning is recommended as an urgent priority. Input from the NSW Government’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Board, industry and the private

sector will ensure the standard is innovative and reflects the next generation’s use of technology.

• Strategies are recommended to increase the use of school facilities by the community, such as playing fields and libraries.

• Local decision-making about minor capital works and infrastructure priorities will help to rapidly bring NSW schools up to the new national minimum standard. School principals and TAFE directors will have authority to prioritise work to meet local needs.

 

Teacher Quality – Is ATAR the be all and end all

'Toxic teacher' warning as debate rages on lifting uni entry marks SMH October 3, 2012

Catherine Armitage, Rachel Browne: The nation's elite universities warn that Australia is at risk of training a generation of ''toxic teachers'' who will pass their own deficiencies at school on to their students.

The executive director of the Group of Eight research-focused universities, Michael Gallagher, said Australia was ''at risk of producing a cohort of ''toxic teachers''.

''The next generation of teachers is being drawn from this pool'' of people ''who have themselves not been very successful at school,'' he said.

Much of the growth in teaching enrolments since 2007 has come from school leavers with scores in the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) range of 50 to 70, prompting the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, to start a debate about minimum education standards for teachers.

Petty elitists need to be taught value of diversity SMH October 3, 2012

Opinion - Greg Craven, vice chancellor of the Australian Catholic University: A tiny cabal of budget-cutting state ministers, micro-managing bureaucrats and bitter educational exclusionists want to crash the party. They think Australians are just too dumb for mass university education.

Enter the NSW government with its Maoist-sounding paper Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, which agonises over a supposed flood of inferior students into teaching courses and ponders defences to repel the barbarians.

The government favours simple answers. Only set the highest possible minimum Australian tertiary admission rank cut-offs for teaching degrees, and all will be solved.

Diversity is the answer. If we can use a combination of entry ranks, portfolios, school results, interviews and so forth, at the point where they converge, we will find a good teacher. The only problem is that good selection systems are challenging and cost money.

 

 

College closes as enrolments fall SMH October 1, 2012

The Sydney Adventist College in Strathfield is closing its doors after 70 years due to declining enrolments.

Advertisements for the 1.6 hectare site appeared last week. The campus will close at the end of the year.

 

History war claims by John Howard soundly rejected by ACARA Daily Telegraph September 28, 2012 – 12.47pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: Claims that the new national curriculum for history is “unbalanced” and “bizarre” were rejected today by Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Professor Barry McGaw.

The new K-10 History curriculum “does not prejudice our Western and Judeo-Christian heritage. Their influences on Australian culture and our legal and political systems are clearly dealt with, “ according to Professor McGaw.

Former prime minister, John Howard, said today that the new national history curriculum marginalises the historic influence of the Judeo-Christian ethic in shaping Australian society and virtually purges British history from any meaningful role”.

 

Accommodation crisis in North Shore public schools

Hear Steph Croft’s interview with Adam Spencer on ABC 702 26 September 26, 2012, plus Tim McCabe from the Department of Education and Communities. http://tinyurl.com/NSR-PC-260912

Barry O'Farrell at odds with parents over solutions to overcrowding crisis in north shore schools North Shore Times October 3, 2012

Danielle Nicastri: Parents are at odds with Premier Barry O'Farrell over solutions to address an overcrowding crisis within north shore schools.

A letter signed by 24 P and C associations on the north shore said funding to replace some of Killara High School's demountables is not enough to accommodate the current or future student population.

Premier Barry O'Farrell said the government is looking into building a school on the UTS site in Lindfield and has allocated funding to replace some demountables at Killara High School

 Parents groups have said these are not enough to address an overcrowding crisis in schools on the north shore.

 Premier O'Farrell said the parent group's claims were “not true''.

Willoughby Council backs school mum Steph Croft's fight for funding to remove demountables North Shore Times September 28, 2012

Rohan Smith: Parent Steph Croft took the issue of school overcrowding to Willoughby Council this week and came away with a staunch ally.

The Willoughby Girls High P&C President told the Willoughby Council meeting on Monday overcrowding in north shore schools was "the worst in the state".

Her request for aid from the council was met with unanimous support, with most councillors speaking on the issue. "You won't have a problem with that," Mayor Pat Reilly said.

Overcrowded north shore school forced to ban running in playground North Shore Times September 28, 2012

Danielle Nicastri: Children are being restricted from running around during school lunchtimes because of the severity of overcrowding, a parents' alliance has revealed.

An alliance of 24 north shore school P&Cs says overcrowding is creating health and safety problems for children.

It sent a letter to all north shore MPs, detailing the extent of overcrowding in local public schools.

The parents are calling for "emergency capital funds" to provide new buildings for students.

Willoughby MP Gladys Berejiklian moves to help P&C group in fight for emergency school funding North Shore Times September 28, 2012

Two days after the North Shore Times broke the story about an alliance of 24 P&C associations demanding emergency school funding, P&C representatives met with Willoughby MP Gladys Berejiklian.

She told them she would organise a meeting on the issue between Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and P&C members.

Parents ready to mount a campaign Daily Telegraph September 26, 2012

Andrew Clennell: The classroom shortage in the Liberal heartland of Sydney's lower north shore is so acute even demountables are not doing the job, with students being taught in libraries and computer rooms.

As Education Minister Adrian Piccoli came under fire for dumping plans to replace demountable classrooms in NSW, 24 parents and citizens councils have taken their fight to local MPs, including Premier Barry O'Farrell, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts.

The group - the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents and Citizens Associations - has written a letter to the MPs saying schools in the area are packed to overflowing and the government needs to institute emergency funding to provide more classrooms.

They are calling for a lift in the education capital works budget - which The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday had been cut by $200 million - and have already met Ms Berejiklian with their concerns.

The letter reveals not one high school in the area received a BER building.

Search for offices to rent as schools run out of space SMH September 26, 2012

Rachel Browne: The NSW Department of Education and Communities is considering leasing office space to accommodate public school children on Sydney's north shore, which has experienced the highest rate of student growth in the state.

All five comprehensive high schools in the (mid to lower North Shore area of the) northern Sydney region are full, as are most primary schools, according to numbers compiled by the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents & Citizens Associations. Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents & Citizens Associations executive member Steph Croft said the Department of Education would have to lease commercial premises to accommodate students.

Schools made to build halls they didn't need Daily Telegraph September 26, 2012

Andrew Clennell: Public schools were discouraged from using $3.5 billion in Building the Education Revolution funds to replace outdated demountable classrooms or ageing toilets and told to build "iconic" libraries or halls.

The department of education went to the Commonwealth with a plan to clear their $1 billion school maintenance backlog with BER funds but the federal government insisted on building halls and libraries, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli claimed yesterday.

"They had to build new buildings. They didn't want to build toilets because what Labor MP wants to open a toilet," Mr Piccoli said.

The former project director of the BER in NSW, Angus Dawson, backed Mr Piccoli's version of events, saying: "The BER in NSW was delivered in line with the guidelines and the guidelines would not have allowed us to replace the demountable program and the guidelines would not have allowed us to do backlog maintenance in schools."

Schools stuck in a rut as government leaves kids in temporary classrooms Daily Telegraph September 25, 2012

Andrew Clennell: Nearly 5000 demountable classrooms and toilet blocks in NSW schools are unlikely to be replaced.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has declared that any future demountable replacement will have to be done in the existing Education Department capital works budget. But the works budget is being cut this year from $752 million to $543 million, as Building the Education Revolution money runs out.

Crowded north shore schools in a state of crisis North Shore Times September 19, 2012

Danielle Nicastri: An unprecedented alliance of 24 north shore P&C Associations have joined forces to fight for government funding to alleviate overcrowding in public schools.

Many schools have reached crisis point, with one looking to hire office space to accommodate classes next year.

 

NSW in the firing line over school halls project SMH September 27, 2012

Peter Martin: Were the Building the Education Revolution projects run badly? Only in states where governments chose not to run them, according to new research published today that targets NSW and Victoria for special criticism.

The analysis by the left-leaning Centre for Policy Development finds the Labor governments in NSW and Victoria performed the worst on just about every measure when it came to handling the funds doled out during the 2008 financial crisis to build new school halls.

Evidence from the BER program leads to two major conclusions:
•    Successful governments didn’t try to be too small: The state governments that were able to manage the risks of the program internally – instead of paying the private sector to take primary responsibility for program management – performed better; and
•    Participation matters: Close consultation with the final users of the infrastructure, the school principals and school community was another key to good performance.

 

Premier loses support base over big cuts to education SMH September 24, 2012

Anna Patty: More than 70 per cent of people who voted for the O'Farrell government last year would not have done so had they known about the $1.7 billion in cuts it would make to the education budget, according to a poll commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation.

Time for silent majority to shout and be heard Daily Telegraph September 19, 2012 6:14 pm

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: A young public school teacher wrote to her local member (a Liberal) this week to protest about the state government’s cuts to public education funding.

She was stunned to get a form letter back full of concern over the fallout to Catholic schools. Families who send their children to public schools can’t be mobilized as easily as Catholic and Independent school communities, and this is a direct result. Pollies are much more likely to hear from private schools and their parents when policies affect them. This is because NSW public school principals and teachers are bound by an outdated Code of Conduct.  It forbids them to comment publicly about government policies and decisions.

 

Putting year 12 in perspective SMH September 17, 2012

Opinion: Stressed students need to be reminded that the HSC, although important, isn't the be-all and end-all of career success, writes Zohra Aly.

 

In a debate about schools, why aren't lessons being learnt? SMH September 17, 2012

Opinion: Education standards will decline under the O'Farrell government's 'devolution' policy, writes Mihajla Gavin, an honours student in work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney.

 

Schools in sex education revolution Daily Telegraph September 17, 2012

 

FUNDING CUTS TO SCHOOLS

Schoolyard brawl SMH September 15, 2012

Excerpt from article – read more by clicking the link Schoolyard brawl

The private sector taught the O'Farrell government a very public lesson over its plans to strip millions out of the education budget, write Anna Patty and Sean Nicholls.

Within 48 hours of that initial meeting with Piccoli, Catholic bishops and parish schools had mobilised parents. The news raced through social media websites. Fisher issued a statement, also sent home with children, asking parents to lobby their local MP.

By Friday afternoon MPs were being bombarded with calls and emails from furious parents, principals and teachers demanding they lobby Piccoli to overturn the decision.

Newcombe says he has never seen a campaign move so quickly.

''Within a few days there was just an enormous reaction from the non-government school community,'' he said.

In turn, furious Liberal backbenchers began threatening a revolt, warning of motions of no-confidence in Piccoli in the party room and attacking his credentials as a conservative minister.

After days of declaring that ''no decision has been made'', Piccoli held a media conference on Tuesday this week to outline cuts - and reveal what appears to be a major backdown.

Instead of losing $67 million each year for four years, non-government schools would lose $116 million over the same period through a freeze on annual funding increases, he said.

The annual cuts had been more than halved. The power of the independent schools lobby had prevailed. But Piccoli's announcement came with another, even bigger, shock.

The Department of Education would shed 600 staff from state and regional offices and 800 TAFE jobs would be lost during the next four years. Another 400 jobs would go as a result of a new online management system, bringing the total from the department to 1800.

If Newcombe and Croke were shocked that a Coalition government had slashed funding, they were even more surprised that the Labor opposition had rushed to their support.

''This has certainly clarified state Labor's attitude to independent schools,'' Newcombe says. ''It will make governments of all persuasions realise the funding of government schools is extremely sensitive and not to be meddled with.''

In its recent submission to the Gonski funding review, the NSW government argued Australia was being left behind by the education investments of competitor nations, and funding needed to rise by at least $10 billion a year just to reach the average of OECD nations.

Students go backwards in national test scores SMH September 15, 2012

Rachel Browne: Results from this year's NAPLAN tests show that most NSW students have gone backwards in reading, spelling and numeracy over the past five years.

The federal Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, said the $1.7 billion cut to education funding in NSW meant students may slip even further.

Mr Garrett will meet NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, in Canberra on Monday to discuss the impact of the cuts.

Tests show NSW kids can spell successful in summary of NAPLAN results Daily Telegraph September 15, 2012

Carleen Frost, Bruce McDougall: NSW students have blitzed the country in the annual NAPLAN results - producing the nation's top spellers and ranking first in more than half of all the other categories across all year groups.

Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett released a summary of the 2012 results yesterday which showed 92 per cent of students who took part in the tests across the country were at or above national minimum standards.

"Since last year we've seen statistically significant improvements in year 3, 5 and 7 spelling and year 7 grammar and punctuation," he said.

But the good news was tempered by claims the O'Farrell government's cuts to education would see a dramatic increase in class sizes.

Bottom of Form

Tip of the iceberg: warning 1200 more education jobs to go SMH September 14, 2012

Anna Patty: Drastic job cuts are ''just the tip of the iceberg'', a former Education Department finance manager has warned after the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said NSW had to learn to live within its means.

Ken Dixon, a former general manager of finance and administration, said the government's decision to cut 400 administration jobs from the department was ''drastic''. He said a software program had been introduced to manage human resources, finance and payroll systems - to take the place of 1600 jobs.

Children can't get to school without buses: O'Farrell SMH September 13, 2012 – 1.19pm

It's not much use having good schools in Sydney if you can't get to them on buses and trains.

That's partly how NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has explained the government's decision to cut $1.7 billion from the Education Department's budget.

Premier Barry O'Farrell to cop a caning over education funding cuts Daily Telegraph September 13, 2012

Alicia Wood, Andrew Clennell and Tyron Butson: Premier Barry O'Farrell is under siege - even from within his government - over a decision to cut 2000 education jobs and rip $1.7 billion from the education budget.

Liberal MPs signalled yesterday they may oppose the cuts as the Premier launched a rearguard action.

In a surprise move, he appointed Treasurer Mike Baird as Industrial Relations Minister to try to sell the government's public sector reforms - stripping the portfolio from Greg Pearce. Government sources said Mr O'Farrell feared a Labor WorkChoices-style campaign could gain momentum and believed Mr Baird could be the man to counter it.

But some MPs questioned why the Premier, after nearly two years in office, had not gone for a broader reshuffle, including axing Education Minister Adrian Piccoli over his handling of the cuts.

Many MPs are concerned education is being cut at a time when the government announced a $137 billion, largely unfunded transport plan and as the North West Rail Link, servicing just one part of Sydney, sucks up $8 billion.

Education must pay for government's sacred cows SMH September 13, 2012
ANALYSIS: Sean Nicholls, State Political Editor:
Making the "tough decisions" ... O'Farrell government's rhetoric.

Standing before his fellow MPs at a joint party room meeting on Tuesday, outlining his education cuts, Adrian Piccoli received very little love.

The Education Minister was grilled for more than two hours over the decision to cut $1.7 billion from the department's budget, including $116 million in funding to independent and Catholic schools over the next four years.

But amid all the concern, it was a comment by the Pittwater MP, Rob Stokes, that stood out.

''I can't see why building the north-west rail line and keeping the [electricity] poles and wires is more important than education,'' a source quoted him as saying.

The answer, of course, is that despite the O'Farrell government's rhetoric about making the ''tough decisions'' to recoup a collapse in GST receipts, it is also ignoring a range of alternatives - the sacred cows of the O'Farrell government.

Cuts were no surprise, but the outrage and pain certainly were SMH September 13, 2012

Funding cuts a brutal hit to public schools Daily Telegraph September 12, 2012 (5.48 pm)

Maralyn Parker article and blog: Public schools across NSW today are feeling abandoned and conned by the Barry O’Farrell Government.

The impact of the state funding cuts of 3 per cent is far greater to public schools than any other school sector very simply because the state government is the prime source of funding for government schools.

Public schools in NSW depend on the NSW State Government for around 85 per cent of their total funding. On the other hand Catholic and Independent schools depend on the state for a much smaller proportion of their total funding - mostly around 10 per cent or less. Get that into perspective.

For public education, including TAFE, the cut is $1.6 billion - compared to $116 million for Catholic and Independent schools combined.

Double whammy as school cuts hit private schools twice SMH September 12, 2012

Phillip Coorey, Anna Patty: Reduced education spending by state governments in recent years will cost private schools about $150 million in federal funding this year, a figure that will worsen once the latest funding freeze by the O'Farrell government is taken into account.

Figures obtained by the Herald show the growth in federal funding for schools will fall by 2 percentage points this year because it is tied to the rate of state funding which has declined by that amount.

Our big spend on private schools SMH September 12, 2012

Jewel Topsfield and Benjamin Preiss: Australia spends a higher proportion of public money on private schools than other developed countries except Chile and Belgium, according to the latest global education snapshot.

The report also found that while Australian graduate teachers are paid relatively well, their salaries slump compared with teachers in other OECD nations as they gain experience.

In 2009, Australia spent 6 per cent of its gross domestic product on education, which was below the OECD average of 6.2 per cent and placed it 18th out of the 31 nations.

Minister Adrian Piccoli wearing the dunce hat, again Daily Telegraph September 12, 2012

Andrew Clennell:  Yet another O'Farrell government minister on training wheels appears to have been played by Treasury and senior bureaucrats.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has twice proven himself the fool, once by leaving disabled kids stranded at bus stops and again by telling Catholic and independent schools about proposed funding cuts before telling his colleagues - allowing schools to mount a successful campaign against him.

The Coalition party room was in uproar yesterday over an original proposal to cut $67 million a year in an education budget of $53 billion - a 0.1 per cent cut.

MPs were told by Catholic schools, rather than the minister, what was going on.

They were flooded with calls from constituents.

It was not worth the pain for such a small cut, especially when parents at the schools involved are the Coalition's core constituency.

School funding cuts are a hard knock for students Daily Telegraph September 12, 2012

Andrew Clennell and Alicia Wood: Parents already struggling with the rising cost of living now face increased school fees after the state government yesterday slashed education funding by almost $2 billion.

A total of 1800 jobs will go - bureaucrats, public school administration staff and TAFE teachers - while Catholic and independent schools will lose $116 million over four years and TAFE fees will rise 9.5 per cent.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli promised not one public school teacher or teacher's aide would be sacked - but could not make the same promise for independent schools.

Mr Piccoli and Premier Barry O'Farrell faced a revolt in the Coalition party room over the cuts, which appear greater than those foreshadowed in the June budget.

Rising costs will force children to leave Daily Telegraph September 12, 2012

Bruce McDougall: Thousands of parents may be forced to withdraw their children from Catholic schools because of soaring fees - putting crowded public schools under pressure.

Parents yesterday said many of them would be unable to afford increases which education chiefs said would be a consequence of a $116 million cut in funding to Catholic schools over four years.

O'Farrell takes axe to education SMH September 12, 2012

Anna Patty, Sean Nicholls and Phillip Coorey:

A funding cut of $1.7 billion for NSW public and private schools has angered parents, teachers, Catholic bishops and government MPs who have been bombarded with complaints.

The federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, who phoned Mr O'Farrell on Friday to lobby him about the proposed cuts, yesterday encouraged his NSW MPs to lobby their state counterparts. He told a Liberal Party meeting he was concerned because the party had a proud history of funding independent and Catholic schools. ''It's in our DNA,'' Mr Abbott was quoted as saying.

$1.7b cuts to Catholic, public schools Daily Telegraph September 11, 2012 – 2.18pm

Andrew Clennell, State Political Editor:  Education Minister Adrian Piccoli is detailing massive cuts to the public school sector as well as cuts to independent and Catholic schools.

Mr Piccoli said the total cuts the government would be nearly $1.7 billion over four years.

The cuts came in around the $40 million a year mark for four years, instead of $67 million per years as was originally foreshadowed.

The cuts come after the government promised frontline services would not be affected by large budget cuts announced in the June budget.

NSW to slash $1.7b from education funding SMH September 11, 2012 – 5.01pm

Anna Patty: Education spending in NSW will be slashed by $1.7 billion with independent schools expected to share the pain with the public system.

Premier Barry O'Farrell has described the cuts as "difficult but necessary".

The Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said he would cap per capita funding for independent schools at the current level, which will save the government $116 million over four years. Public schools would lose $201 million from their budgets.

"It will not be capped forever and the cap won't come into effect until the first of July 2013," Mr Piccoli said.

"The intention of these changes is that the impact on non-government schools is the same as government schools of around 3 per cent."

Piccoli planned to cut 'an extra $150m' SMH September 11, 2012
Anna Patty: The head of the NSW private school lobby said yesterday the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, told him he planned to cut an extra $150 million over four years from independent and Catholic schools.

Geoff Newcombe, the executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, said this would be in addition to a cut of $80 million.

He said this suggested state schools would lose $320 million over a four-year period. Under the existing funding structure, independent schools automatically receive 25 per cent of the amount given to public schools.

 

Queensland: Words 'penis' and 'vagina' to be used in school lessons as part of Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum The Courier Mail September 11, 2012

 

SMH Education Feature

Lesson learnt: 13 years may not be enough SMH September 10, 2012

Caroline Milburn: Julia Gillard has outlined a herculean task for the nation's educators.

School principals and staff who have turned demoralised schools into thriving, confident places estimate it takes about 10 years of intense, hard work to achieve sustained improvement.

This article sets out the strengths and weakness, and provides an overall assessment of  the Federal Governments response to the Gonski Report by three leading educators, namely:

Sheree Vertigan, president of the Australian Secondary Principals Association

Professor Toni Downes, president of the Australian Council of Deans of Education

Professor Stephen Dinham, chair of teacher education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Melbourne University


O'Farrell won't bow to independent school heat SMH September 10, 2012

Josephine Tovey - State Political Reporter: The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has vowed not to be intimidated by sectional interests amid rapidly escalating tensions with the private and Catholic schools over budget cuts and accusations his government is betraying its base.

Letters were issued to every Catholic parish across the state yesterday, encompassing tens of thousands of parishioners, and some priests used their sermons to denounce the rumoured $67 million cuts, which arose out of a confidential briefing with the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, last Tuesday.

In just three days, a massive campaign has been mounted, prompting angry phone calls and letters from parents to MPs across the state. A letter from the Catholic Education Commission of NSW to all parents warned them the ''biggest threat to NSW Catholic schools in decades'' would result in a fee increase of up to $496 per student.


Pyne softens Coalition stand on education
SMH September 10, 2012

Michelle Grattan, Jewel Topsfield: Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne has left the way open for a Coalition government to keep in place a Labor deal on a new model of school funding ''if it works for us''.

Mr Pyne told the ABC: ''We're not in the business of simply repealing legislation or models for the sake of it. If it works for us, we will keep it.''

In a July interview with The Age Mr Pyne indicated an Abbott government would repeal the legislation. He said that ''anything the government did that undermined non-government school funding and was forced on parents we will dismantle''.

Yesterday Mr Pyne said a Coalition government would look at exactly what Labor had done in education - the agreements made with the education sector and the states.

''If it fits within our policy of teacher quality, a robust curriculum, principal autonomy and ending the discrimination against children with disabilities, then we will honour it.''


No fair go at school: Gonski SMH September 9, 2012

Peter Munro, Rachel Browne: Increasing segregation of students has led to a two-tiered education system with a widening gap between the ''haves'' and the ''have-nots''.

Australian students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are up to three years behind students from more privileged backgrounds in literacy levels, according to figures compiled for the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling. Poor students also lag well behind their wealthier peers in science and maths and are only half as likely to attend university.

Carmen Lawrence, the director of the centre for the study of social change at the University of Western Australia and a member of the Gonski review panel, said the figures busted the myth that Australia offers a fair go for all.

 

Independent schools join condemnation of funding cut SMH September 9, 2012

Rachel Browne, Heath Aston: Independent schools have thrown their weight behind a groundswell of opposition to the NSW government's plan to cut $67 million from Catholic and private schools.

Treasury documents show that at least $40 million will be cut from the Education Department's budget this year. The executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Geoff Newcombe, said these cuts would not affect the number of teaching staff, unlike cuts to the Catholic and independent schools, which represent 34 per cent of students.

''The difference is, with the cuts to the state schools, that's coming out of the bureaucracy, those cuts are being made outside the school gates. For us, that's not the case. These cuts will mean a reduction in front-line staff,'' he said.

 

The invisible backpack, and why it makes the education gap hard to close SMH September 9, 2012

it will take more than money, said Monash University education expert David Zyngier. ''Children come to our classrooms with what has been called the 'invisible backpack' and some come with their backpack full of privilege and others come with a backpack of disadvantage,'' he said.

Those backpacks weigh more heavily on Australian children than their peers in Canada, Finland, Shanghai and Korea. Students' backgrounds account for 55 per cent of performance differences between schools in the OECD's developed industrial economies - in Australia it's 68 per cent.

 

Man in a hurry SMH September 8, 2012

Andrew Stevenson - Education Editor:

Having a choice is a luxury that not every parent can afford, Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli tells Andrew Stevenson.

''I always tell people I'm not bound by any ideology. I'm not bound by a conservative ideology. I sleep well at night no matter the decision if it's in the best interests of students,'' he says.

''I'm not looking for some short-term confected outcome that looks good in a press release. That's the approach that has in many ways hampered education policy. When you look around the world, the things done to produce big changes [in student performance] have taken at least 10 years before you even start to see the consequences.''

Top of Piccoli's list is his policy to give school principals greater autonomy. Critics argue it is a precursor to cutting education budgets and putting the blame on principals when they can't deliver, but Piccoli believes that, in time, greater flexibility will see schools deliver better education. A review of teacher quality and a trial that gives unprecedented authority to 15 principals in struggling indigenous communities will both take years to bear fruit.

Piccoli says he's happy to wait - even if he's no longer in the job to see the benefits.

 

How this student proved a teacher wrong smh.com.au September 8, 2012

Tony Wright - National affairs editor of The Age: Stacey Duddy carries the words of the vice-principal at her old school within her heart: ''You'll never amount to anything.'' …. …. But how did she turn around her life so remarkably?

She was, she said, given a gift beyond price by a little-known not-for-profit charity called Hands On Learning, which works to keep at-risk students in school. ''I learnt the value of self-worth''. (Method: Hands on Learning is a one-day a week in-school early intervention program that significantly increases attendance and retention of students in the middle years most at risk of becoming early school leavers).

Yet a new study by Deloitte Access Economics has found that in the 13 years Hands On Learning has been operating, it has contributed $1.6 billion in ''workforce outcomes alone'' in saving students from dropping out of school and foundering. And that represents only the 3082 students who have taken part in the program.

Of these, 95 per cent finished high school and their post-school unemployment rate was just 2.2 per cent compared with 10.8 per cent for Australians aged 15-24. Last year, Hands On Learning students recorded an 80 per cent reduction in disciplinary detentions compared with their previous year at school.

The Deloitte Access study calculates that 70,000 of the 290,000 15-year-old students in Australia today are likely to drop out before completing high school.

 

Education in diplomacy as states set to deal separately SMH September 8, 2012

Jewel Topsfield, Bianca Hall:  The federal government has moved to diffuse tensions over school funding by agreeing to negotiate separately with each state over what school improvements would be required to receive additional money.

 

Is poor grammar affecting your career? Daily Telegraph September 6, 2012 8.48am

Sarah Michael:  The lack of basic literacy skills among some younger employees and recent graduates has become such a problem for businesses that some are introducing language and grammar lessons.

 

The PM’s plans to implement Gonski gives hope to public schools Daily Telegraph September 5, 2012 6.59 pm

Maralyn Parker Blog and article: There was one chance left for Australian public schools and Julia Gillard gave it to them this week

The prime minister’s national plan for school improvement, based on the Gonski recommendations to overhaul school funding, is giving hundreds of government schools across the country hope that things will change for them.

This latest plan is even better than Gonski recommended. Gillard has promised an increased loading, from 10 to 50 per cent per student, for schools that enrol higher numbers of disadvantaged children.

So schools that carry the biggest load of disadvantaged children will get even more.

Like many public school supporters I want the legislation passed and for the prime minister to get on with it. Forget any surplus, invest in schools and teachers.

 

Well worth a read

A $1m question: What is an education worth? Daily Telegraph September 5, 2012

Jessica Irvine - The Daily Telegraph’s  new economics editor:  

Who wants to earn a million dollars?

Forget TV game shows or get-rich-quick schemes, studies reveal the true path to riches in this country lies in education.

Over her lifetime, a woman with a bachelor's degree will earn about $800,000 more than a woman who does no study after Year 12, according to a report by economist Andrew Norton. For men, the gap between university grads and school leavers is even bigger at $1.1 million.

But it's not just uni degrees. The returns from investments in education are evident at a secondary level as well.

The debate about education funding is not some feel-good, airy-fairy debate about spending money on kiddies. It must be based in the economic reality that better educated children earn more money.

 

Catholic schools face cash fears Daily Telegraph September 5, 2012

Simon Benson, National Political Editor: Catholic parents could be forced to pay for proposed new federal funding standards through higher fees unless their 1705 schools received a "significant" boost in grants.

The National Catholic Education Commission has sent an internal document to its school directors warning Catholic schools, which represent more than 704,000 students across the country, would not meet the proposed school resource standard.

 

World rankings a lesson in valuing role of teachers SMH September 5, 2012

Rachel Browne: Teachers in Shanghai spend between 10 and 12 hours on class time each week and yet their students are ranked highest in the world.

Australia sits in ninth place on the PISA rankings, with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, stating she wants to see the country in the top five in reading, mathematics and science by 2025. But education experts are cautious about the $6.5 billion plan, saying it will take more than money to address Australia's declining ranking.

The school education program director at the Grattan Institute, Dr Ben Jensen, analysed the performance of the top four Asian countries for the report Catching Up: Learning from the best school systems in East Asia, published this year.

He found Shanghai, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong supported teacher training and development. ''These four systems all focus on things that are known to matter in the classroom, including a relentless practical focus on learning and the creation of a strong culture of teacher education, research, collaboration, mentoring, feedback and sustained professional development,'' he wrote.

 

Gonski School Funding Review

P&C Gonski interview on ABC 24

Surrounded by danger? Simply call the crusade Daily Telegraph September 7, 2012 9.48am

Simon Benson: If Julia Gillards national crusade on education has a familiar ring to it that is because, as a political concept, it is not exactly new.

The risk for Gillard’s education targets, which followed two other big announcements over the past few weeks, namely the NDIS and dental health - is that no one believes them.

There is no question Gillard believes in the principles behind the reforms, bearing in mind that reform is change with improvement rather than change just for the sake of it. But the politics behind this frenzied need to talk about anything else than carbon tax or asylum seeker boats, appears all short term.

Race up the rankings is really a class issue SMH September 6, 2012

Opinion – Paul Sheehan: The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, might be careful what she wishes for when she says she wants Australia to climb into the top five on the league table published by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Heavy on rhetoric and short on substance, try again Ms Gillard SMH September 4, 2012

Opinion – Jewel Topsfield, The Age: The Prime Minister has laid down the gauntlet to the states in a speech on school funding heavy on rhetoric - Australians are supposed to join a ''national crusade'' to eradicate the ''moral wrong'' of a denied education - and low on substance.

Gillard’s never-never school crusade Daily Telegraph September 4, 2012 4.13am

Piers Akerman - Blog: Julia Gillard deserves a big “F” for her response to the Gonski education review. She promised another education revolution by 2025 – for those who can’t count, that’s 13 years in the future – but she couldn’t say how it would it be funded when the current funding arrangement expires at the end of next year.

Big fat zero for Gillard SMH September 4, 2012

Opinion - Tim Colebatch, The Age's economic editor:

The best parts of Julia Gillard's response to the Gonski report were the parts of the Gonski report she adopted. The worst was pretty well everything the Prime Minister added to the plan - or left out of it.

Few issues, maybe none, matter more for the long-term future of our economy than reducing the enormous waste of lives and talent when our young leave school without the basic skills, self-discipline and positive approach they will need to carve out useful and rewarding careers.

The OECD estimates that if we could lift all year 9 children to a minimum level of 400 points on its PISA scale of literacy, numeracy and scientific knowledge - on which the average Australian student scores 519 - it would add the equivalent of more than two years' GDP to our output over their lifetimes. The psychological benefits of giving everyone a good start to life are just as important.

Pay as you grow: a public private partnership SMH September 4, 2012

Jonathan Swan: ''Crusades'' are fine and wads of cash even better, but Tim Champion raised his eyebrows when Julia Gillard floated her ''six-year transition'' and ''13-year goal'' to change the way schools are funded.

''My concern is the urgency with which this government is approaching it,'' said Mr Champion, whose children attend public and private schools.

Big earners to be hit by education 'crusade' SMH September 4, 2012

Only the best can teach at schools SMH September 4, 2012

Jessica Marszalek and Simon Benson: Would-be teachers will have to be among the top 30 per cent in literacy and numeracy to be accepted into university under the government's push to make Australian schools among the best in the world.

Education's top-five goal Daily Telegraph September 3, 2012

Simon Benson: Ambitious goals to lift Australian students into the top five countries in the world for education will be legislated as part of the Gillard government's new national schools reforms.

New national targets in maths, science and reading will be set to lift sagging education standards to among the world's highest by 2025.

But while they will be enshrined in an Act of Parliament, they will not be enforceable or tied to new funding increases which won't be fully funded until 2020.

I will boost school rankings - PM SMH September 3, 2012

Jacqueline Maley, Anna Patty: The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will pledge today to elevate the international standing of Australian schools so they rank among the top five systems in the world by 2025. The plan is part of the new school funding system her government intends to make law before the next election.

Audacious spending plans aimed at drawing out opposition SMH September 3, 2012

Opinion - Phillip Coorey: Today, Julia Gillard, as part of a social policy offensive designed to drag Tony Abbott on to Labor's turf, will flick the switch to education with the release of the government's response to the Gonski review into school funding.

 

School chaplaincy provider facing financial pressure SMH September 3, 2012

Ben Butler Business reporter: The organisation responsible for providing chaplains to Victorian state schools, using millions of dollars of federal government money, is under financial pressure, recording a loss for the third successive year.

The Council for Christian Education in Schools, which trades as Access Ministries, has received more than $21 million in federal grants since 2007, yet last year made a loss of $337,000.

 

Playing in the playground at school
Play time vital for children SMH September 3, 2012

Opinion: Playgrounds are a key part of the learning process, writes Susanne North.

There are different opinions among teachers about the purpose of recess and lunch time at schools. Some say that it is solely time to eat and just let off steam. Others regard it as valuable time where children can engage in much-needed child-directed free play, learn to socialise and expand their learning outside of the classroom.

Apart from being a fun activity, it is widely recognised that play is one of the most important ways in which brain development occurs in children.

Sadly, in some schools valuable recess and lunch time has been reduced in favour of more rigorous academic pursuit within the classroom. In other schools, running or ball games have been banned due to a perceived high injury risk factor.

A British company, Common Threads, has worked with more than 60 schools in Britain to introduce play during recess. It observed that children were more settled straight after playtime, collaborated better in projects and demonstrated much better problem-solving skills.

Conversely, a lack of play can result in challenging behaviour and negative performances in the classroom, according to an American educational psychologist, Anthony Pellegrini.

Three cheers for schools banning handstands and cartwheels Daily Telegraph August 29, 2012 5.32 pm

Teachers wanting to ban handstands and cartwheels, or anything else, in their school playgrounds get my support. Bring on the bans.

They do the job. They take the responsibility for those particular children in that particular playground.  Critics should back off or volunteer to take over playground duty themselves. Line up. Your school would love it.

Cartwheel ban turns the school rules upside down Daily Telegraph August 28, 2012

Rashell Habib and Rosemarie Lentini: Students have been banned from performing handstands and cartwheels in the playground of a Sydney primary school unless under the direct supervision of a trained gymnastics teacher.

In a newsletter sent to parents and posted on the school's website, principal Gail Charlier said it followed consultations with the Education Department's state schools sports unit

Parents described the ban as extreme and ridiculous as principals warned more schools would implement similar rules.

A NSW Federation of P&C Association spokeswoman said the decree was extreme. She said: "Parents always have concerns about the safety of their children but they don't want their children wrapped in cotton wool." NSW Primary Principals Association president Jim Cooper said: "The irony is while parents are aghast, there's a group of parents who, if a child has a little accident, they hold the school to answer," he said.

 

Education chief: tests no measure of schools SMH August 28, 2012

Anna Patty – State Political Reporter: National literacy and numeracy test results should not be used for school accountability, the state's head of education says.

The NSW Director-General of Education, Michele Bruniges, will tell a national education conference in Sydney today that the use of test data such as National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy results should not to be used as a measure of school performance.

''The first step in improving the capacity of teachers to make quality educational decisions is to support ongoing improvement in teachers' understanding and use of data,'' Dr Bruniges says. ''If we are really serious about school improvement and evidence-based teaching, then we must increase our efforts to make this data and research readily available.''

 

State takes control of teacher numbers and class sizes SMH August 24, 2012

Anna Patty – State Political Reporter: A new staffing arrangement for teachers was imposed on the profession yesterday, giving the state government discretion to control teacher numbers and class sizes.

The Department of Education gave the NSW Teachers Federation an ultimatum to sign a new staffing agreement by 5.30pm on Wednesday, but the federation refused. So the agreement was introduced as government policy instead of a formal industrial agreement, which means it does not legally bind the government.

 

Gonski review lost in political point-scoring, says Piccoli SMH August 23, 2012

Anna Patty – State Political Reporter: The NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, says Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have made ''awful'' comments on school funding this week and has criticised them for reigniting the debate over financial support for public versus private schools.

Speaking at a forum at the University of Sydney last night, Mr Piccoli accused both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader of losing sight of the recommendations made by the review headed by David Gonski.

''The greatest problem here is overcoming the politics. I think everybody actually knows what the right thing to do is: to have needs-based funding,'' Mr Piccoli told an event chaired by the dean of education and social work, Professor Rob Tierney.

Earlier, Mr Piccoli told Parliament the state government had welcomed the review, which promised to deliver more funding to public schools in NSW.

 

Class sizes at risk of rising: teachers SMH August 23, 2012- 1:01PM

A breakdown in negotiations between the NSW government and the teachers union has ended a staffing agreement that regulates class sizes and teacher numbers.

Teachers today warned there was nothing stopping the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, from increasing class sizes on a whim.

However, Mr Piccoli said he was committed to maintaining existing class sizes as policy.

In a letter to staff, Dr Bruniges said four months of negotiations with the teachers federation over new staffing arrangements arising from the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms had failed.

"Unfortunately these negotiations have not resulted in an agreement and as such the department will implement the new staffing procedures from Day 1, Term 4, 2012 by way of policy," she said.

"A key element of the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms is putting an end to the centrally determined one-size fits all staffing model.

"The minister and I have been very clear that the Local Schools, Local Decisions staffing reforms will maintain a statewide staffing system, which has greater opportunities for teachers to be selected at the local level to better meet student needs; maintain the department's class size policies, and provide greater flexibility for schools to determine the mix of permanent and temporary staff to meet student needs and workforce planning requirements."

Schools win power to hire own staff Daily Telegraph August 23, 2012- 4:00PM

BRUCE McDOUGALL: Government schools will be given more power to hire their own staff from early October after negotiations with the NSW Teachers Federation on the controversial plan broke down.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said today the ground-breaking new staffing policy would begin in NSW government schools on the first day of term four - October 8.
Mr Piccoli said schools would be able to fill at least every second teacher vacancy by local choice, class sizes would not be affected and teachers would still be able to transfer to another school.


Students benefit from taking charge, study finds SMH August 22, 2012

Giving vulnerable and disengaged students a leading role in research could not only improve their success in school, but help inform policymakers how best to respond to the needs of those children, a new study shows.

The Child-Led Research Program – a collaborative initiative of UnitingCare, the NSW Commission for Children and Young People and Southern Cross University – found that when school students took charge of their own research projects they were more willing to be involved, more interested in the outcome, and more likely to relate their experience to other areas of the classroom.

 

Learning Languages

'Education making us ignorant' SMH August 22, 2012

Peter Martin: Ken Henry, a former Treasury secretary, told a Canberra forum education was substandard and going backwards. "It may be that because of what's happening in our region, a sense of complacency has developed," he said. ''The economy is going pretty well - very well by international standards - but that has probably encouraged that view that somehow or another this is all going to fall into our laps.

"There is also a view … that we don't need to do much ourselves in language because everybody in the region is going to speak English. That's just nonsense. It doesn't go down well when you say it in Beijing, or even in Tokyo." He said he found it "quite extraordinary" that fewer high school students studied Indonesian now than did in the 1970s. "It is particularly extraordinary when so many more of us are travelling to Indonesia, although I sometimes wonder how many of those people who travel to Bali realise that they are in Indonesia," he said.

 

Funding for public education

Gonski's vision is being shrouded in fog SMH August 22, 2012

SMH Editorial: Tony Abbott’s attempt to ingratiate himself with private school parents by encouraging them to feel hard done by when it comes to federal handouts has been almost comical. He told a meeting of the Independent Schools Council of Australia on Monday that students attending government schools proportionally received a greater share of government funding than those at independent schools. "So there is no question of injustice to public schools here. If anything, the injustice is the other way," he said.

The trouble with this is it denies the evidence all can see: public schools are poorly resourced on average compared with the wealthiest private schools, which receive government help.

We are privileged - take from us and give to state SMH August 22, 2012

LETTERS (8)

… …I have two children attending a top private school which has about 2000 students. I would have absolutely no problem if $50 a year of funding for each child was reallocated to public schools

… …Perhaps Ms Gillard can raise the GST rate to Finland's 23 per cent to pay for this educational equality and excellence.

Partisan battles over school funding should get a big fat F SMH August 22, 2012

Lyndsay Connors and Jim McMorrow – Opinion: The debate over investment in schools is being hijacked.

If international comparisons are any guide, Australia is starting to pay a price for its long-standing inability to engage in informed and rational debate about its national public investment in schools. Yet it would appear that our political leaders want to keep things that way.

As the Gonski report makes clear, there should be a close alignment between the agreed goals of schooling and the resources available to schools to do the work needed to achieve those goals. Public funding proposals should be tested against such criteria as sufficiency, fairness, quality, transparency, efficiency and education value for money.

But the opposition's education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, has made it perfectly clear that the Coalition's response to the reforms is based on one narrow test: would any non-government school be worse off and thereby stimulated to raise its fees to parents?

More cash for poor schools Daily Telegraph August 22, 2012

BRUCE McDOUGALL: Some of the state's poorest public schools could receive a funding boost of more than $1 million a year if the Gillard government gives a green light to the recommendations of businessman David Gonski.

Tony Abbott 'won't take money off any school' The Australian August 22, 2012

Justine Ferrari & Milanda Rout: Tony Abbott yesterday reiterated his belief that public schools were not short-changed under current funding arrangements, yet maintained support for the system that he described as unjust to private schools.

The opposition was forced to promise no school would be worse off under a Coalition government after Julia Gillard construed the Opposition Leader's comments to an independent schools forum on Monday as an intention to cut funding to government schools.

But Mr Abbott's comments were contradicted yesterday by his education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, who said the current funding system for private schools was not unjust.

Mr Pyne gave an "absolute guarantee" that no school would be worse off under a Coalition government, saying it would maintain current funding plus indexation of 6 per cent to take account of rising costs. The commitment extends to only recurrent funding, and the opposition's proposed $2.8 billion cuts to school funding remain.

Following reports at the weekend that implementing the Gonski model without amendment would cut funding to one in three schools, public and private, Ms Gillard used her speech to the independent schools forum on Monday to promise increased funding for every school and extol the virtues of the sector, territory usually occupied by the Coalition.

Libs retreat on Abbott's school call SMH August 22, 2012

Jewel Topsfield and Bianca Hall: The Coalition has backed away from suggestions that private schools are hard done by, with opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne denying the current level of funding for independent schools was an injustice.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott created a furore when he contradicted the findings of the Gonski review and said there was ''no question'' of injustice to public schools when it came to the level of government funding - ''if anything the injustice is the other way''.

The Coalition yesterday went into damage control, issuing a statement pledging ''across-the-board increases for schools'' and guaranteeing that no school would be worse off.

School blue sees Abbott scramble SMH August 21, 2012

Phillip Coorey, Jewel Topsfield, Bianca Hall

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has gone into damage control after telling an education forum that the high level of public funding public schools receive is an injustice.

Addressing a meeting of the Independent Schools Council of Australia yesterday, Mr Abbott stressed the Coalition's opposition to the Gonski review's recommendation to overhaul school funding.

Leaders vie with each other to be teacher's pet SMH August 21, 2012

Andrew Stevenson, Education Editor - COMMENT

''I'm the best friend of private schools!'' the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced yesterday morning with some confidence.

After all, how many Labor leaders have seen the light on the hill shining from the glass of a new science lab built on the extensive grounds of a century-old private school that tops up the educational offering that $25,000 a year buys you with a healthy dose of federal funding?

But in the playground battle of politics, even that's not enough.

''No you're not,'' countered Tony Abbott. ''I'm an even better friend of private schools.''

The Opposition Leader now says private schools are missing out: they educate 34 per cent of students but receive just 21 per cent of government funding.

No future for Gonski unless private schools get more Telegraph August 20, 2012 (6.26 pm)

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: The battle over school funding in this nation reached a weird new level yesterday when the prime minister promised more money to the Australian schools that need it least.

This is a step up from the promise that no school would lose any money given previously by Education Minister, Peter Garrett.

In her speech to the Independent Schools National Forum, Julia Gillard said that every independent school would see their funding increased under her government’s plan.

There is simply no future for public schools without the Gonski reforms.
Public schools are now too dilapidated and too far behind.
But there will be no Gonski without the Catholic and independent sectors
signing ott on the model.
Don't be surprised if she goes further and matches the 6 per cent increase
to private schools offered by Christopher Pyne. Note that he has promised
nothing to public schools.

Abbott says Gonski reforms unaffordable SMH August 20, 2012

Jewel Topsfield: Opposition leader Tony Abbott says he is deeply sceptical about the affordability of school funding boosts recommended by the Gonski review and he believes public schools receive adequate funding currently.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged today that every independent school in Australia will see its funding increase no matter how wealthy.

In an unashamed pitch to the private school sector, Ms Gillard said the government's funding reforms would be "good news" for independent schools.

Private schools to get more funding SMH August 20, 2012

Jewel Topsfield, Education Editor for The Age:  The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will today reveal that every independent school will receive an increase in government funding regardless of its wealth.

The announcement, a significant victory for the private school lobby, goes beyond the government's previous pledge that no school would lose a dollar under funding reforms.

It is designed to head off the Coalition scare campaign that private schools would have to increase fees because their funding would not increase in real terms under the long-awaited overhaul of school funding.

PM's old school backs funding action SMH August 20, 2012

Jewel Topsfield, Education Editor for The Age:  The principal of Julia Gillard's alma mater, Unley High School, will today present the Prime Minister with a large cardboard cut-out of a raised hand in support of action on school funding.

A sea of hands with the names of all 6700 public schools will also be placed on the grass outside Parliament House in Canberra to mark six months since the release of the Gonski review into school funding.

Schools jittery as Gillard delays education reforms SMH August 18, 2012

Jewel Topsfield, Education Editor for The Age: 
The federal government has delayed its long-awaited response to the first major review of school funding in 40 years amid anger over lack of consultation and concerns some private schools would be worse off.

 

Teacher quality depends on culture of development SMH August 20, 2012

Tony Mackay:Research consistently finds that quality teaching is the leading in-school influence on student outcomes, with quality school leadership not far behind. All Australian governments recognise this fact and education ministers have recently endorsed two important statements on how to improve the quality of teaching and leadership in Australia's schools.

There is growing evidence that teachers thrive in a culture focused on improving teaching to enhance student outcomes and characterised by frequent feedback, coaching and access to high-quality professional learning. Ministers have endorsed the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework and the Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders, both developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

Taken together, these statements are a call to action for all involved in Australian education to create a culture of performance and development that gives every teacher in every school the support to grow and develop as a professional.

 

Learning is in the air SMH August 20, 2012

A TAFE institute is leading the way to an intangible, innovative classroom, writes Keeli Cambourne.

Taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by access to high-speed broadband, the Cloud 9 project aims to create a ''classroom in the cloud'', encompassing at least nine different technologies to provide a collaborative, experiential and self-motivated learning environment.

In practical terms, it will mean that teachers and students will be able to log on to full classroom resources from anywhere, says the acting learning and assessment development co-ordinator with TAFE NEI, teacher Lyn Graham.


Poor students miss out on teaching strategies SMH August 17, 2012

Andrew Stevenson, Education Editor: Students from poorer families are less likely to receive several sound teaching methods that have been shown to significantly improve reading literacy performance, according to a new NSW study.

Those students from the wealthiest quarter of the community are nearly 20 percentage points more likely to be asked to explain the meaning of a text. They are also 16 percentage points more likely to be asked questions that challenge them to get a better understanding of the text.

Students from poorer backgrounds are also missing out on being given the chance to ask questions about reading assignments and having a teacher who tells them in advance how their work is going to be judged.

Collectively, these four teaching strategies have been shown to have a significant effect on student performance in the most comprehensive international testing program, the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA).


Taking a break is secret to success SMH August 16, 2012

Nicky Phillips, Science Reporter: Forget what your teachers said, practice doesn't make perfect.At least it doesn't when you practise over and over again without a break.

Sydney scientists have found learning improves when students take a rest from continuous study or training.

''It seems intuitive that every minute of study should make you better, but, actually, if you do too much it might backfire and you end up wasting time,'' said the study's lead researcher, Dr Joel Pearson.

 

Military Academies to replace “failing” government schools: an idea coming to Australia? SMH August 15, 2012 (5.50pm)

Maralyn Parker – article and blog: If you are hoping Christopher Pyne will be our next Education Minister you will be interested in who might be giving him advice.*

If you are hoping not, pay even more attention.

Well-known English conservative thinker, Phillip Blond, is meeting up with Tony Abbott’s shadow ministry during his current visit to Australia - according to ABC Q&A this week.

Blond is an Anglican theologian who made his mark in education circles recently by recommending British armed forces set up and run special schools for Britain’s “deprived communities”. Phillip Blond’s ideas about the Big Society HERE

 

Game on, kids: NRL opens school of hard knocks SMH August 13, 2012

The goal is not to convert fans but to get more children reading, writing and talking. The current focus is on literacy, with a set of magazines for students called Rugby League Reads, which feature a range of text types and interviews with players about their reading patterns. Crinion hopes to add a numeracy program this year.


Zealots in school … Jesus loves me, this I know, cos he gave me a Freddo crikey.com August 13, 2012

Chris Fotinopoulos - a state schoolteacher in Victoria and Melbourne writer

As debate over religious education and chaplaincy programs in state schools attract public attention, religious representatives masquerading as youth workers are enjoying unsupervised access to students in certain Melbourne state schools without the knowledge of many parents and teaching staff.

 

Free courses from world's top unis a swipe away in online revolution SMH August 12, 2012

Amanda Dunn and Katie Cincotta

Global e-learning is transforming higher education.

Imagine a university degree that is like a passport: a subject from Swinburne stamped alongside another from Sydney University, with courses from overseas colleges such as Stanford or Harvard thrown in. You could earn your degree without travelling further than your laptop, and far more cheaply than on campus.

Far-fetched? The proliferation of websites offering courses from top universities - MIT and Stanford among them - and the globalisation of learning generally means this scenario may one day be possible. Higher education is in the middle of a digital revolution, and who has access to it, and how it is done, will shift dramatically in the next few years.

''The world of tertiary education is changing fundamentally, and the pace of change is greater than ever before,'' says Monash University vice-chancellor Ed Byrne, likening it to the 15th-century invention of the printing press. "People are being educated in a totally global context for the first time."

These changes mean that potentially millions of people who otherwise may have had no opportunity to access higher education can do so for free, via institutions that charge about $50,000 a year if you enrol on campus.

 

Teachers suspicious of quota for skills checks SMH August 10, 2012

Andrew Stevenson: Forcing more than 2500 public school teachers a year to attend performance improvement programs would ''result in better teachers'', a state government review says.

The NSW Commission of Audit final report recommends the education department improve its management of poor performing teachers and specifically endorses reviewing the performance of ''something closer to 5 per cent'', a huge increase on the current level.

Currently, 100 teachers a year are directed into 10-week Teacher Improvement Programs each year. Half of them return to work and half leave their jobs.

The proposal was rejected by the NSW Teachers Federation president, Maurie Mulheron, as part of ''the great distraction of teacher bashing''. He said a quota made no sense.

 

Ethics classes hidden from parents, say supporters SMH August 4, 2012

Sean Nicholls - State Political Editor

Proposed changes to the way parents are notified about the option of ethics classes in NSW schools have been criticised by supporters, who claim they are a deliberate attempt to stymie the classes' take up.

A government-initiated inquiry into ethics classes was held this year following calls for their abolition by the Christian Democratic Party MP, Fred Nile, whose party shares the balance of power in the upper house.

Inquiry rules in favour of school ethics classes SMH May 28, 2012

More media links for Ethics Courses

 

Different schools of thought on (SMH) promos SMH August 1, 2012

Judy Prisk - Readers' Editor: This arrived last week from a reader: ''Once again the Herald has published a special supplement on independent schools. This is the third recent supplement highlighting and promoting independent schools. Are they paying for these …? Why do you not promote the achievements of public schools?''

 

Improving teaching “Great Teaching, Inspired Learning” - Discussion Paper  

When good teaching falls victim to bureaucracy SMH August 1, 2012

Herald Editorial: Adrian Piccoli knows the problem: NSW needs better teachers. But he cannot do the one thing that would attract better qualified and more able personnel to the profession - raise their pay.

Instead he has published a discussion paper and called for public comments on other, cheaper ways to raise standards. They are well intended - as far as they go.The idea that the state government might restrict - in so far as it can - the number of university places available for teacher training ought to ensure that the cut-off mark for entry to teacher training will rise and, presumably, that the quality of teachers graduating will improve.

Quantity improves quality of teachers SMH August 1, 2012

Opinion: Some questions about teacher education in NSW are already being addressed, write Associate Professor Peter Aubusson, president of the NSW Council of Deans of Education and the head of teacher education at the University of Technology Sydney and Professor Chris Davison, vice-president of the council and head of the school of education at the University of NSW.

Experienced teachers face skills tests SMH August 1, 2012

Anna Patty, Jen Rosenberg: More than half the state's public school teachers may become subject to the same rigorous standards and testing used to assess and train new teachers, under NSW government proposals to improve teacher quality. Introducing an education discussion paper yesterday, the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said: ''Moving the teaching workforce not already part of the new scheme onto that scheme should be considered as a part of this process.''

Threats to teachers will produce reverse effect SMH August 1, 2012

SMH Letters: I am an ''exisiting'', ''mid-career'' teacher, greatly offended by Mr Piccoli's suggestions (''Minister targets inadequate teachers to improve classroom standards'', July 31). Really, a man with such a diverse vocational and professional background as Minister Piccoli should know better than to, yet again, threaten teachers with this muck.

Minister targets inadequate teachers to improve classroom standards SMH July 31, 2012

Andrew Stevenson: The NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, is planning to make bold changes to the way school teachers are trained, supported in the job, and managed out of it to lift teacher quality and improve learning outcomes.

Mr Piccoli wants to look at how underperforming teachers can be removed from classrooms as one element of a comprehensive review of how best to improve the quality of teaching in all schools in NSW.

''You've got to have a transparent, fair and fast process for removing teachers if you want to guard your standards,'' he said.

Lessons learned for the good of students Daily Telegraph July 31, 2012

An ideological battle has been under way for some time in NSW schools.

In one corner we have education unions who, as is their right, are pushing the cause of their members.

In the other corner we have governments seeking school reform, with the considerable support of parents' groups and other interested parties.

One of the primary issues of difference between these groups is the role of teachers.

Unions have long sought to protect their teacher members by making it difficult to judge teacher performances and to remove underperformers from the classroom.

Current union-supported wage structures for teachers are a one-size-fits-all model. In the interests of protecting lesser-performing teachers, their wages are generally equal to high performers of similar experience.

 

Disabilities

It's great to have a conscience, now tell us how we'll pay for it SMH August 1, 2012

Ross Gittins – Opinion.

An open letter to our politicians, from a mum SMH July 30, 2012

Opinion: Heike Fabig, the mother of three children, two of whom have a disability, and president of the Association for Children with Disability NSW.

I will not soon forget this Week of Tears. I doubt anyone not personally touched by disability can understand the level of despair many families descended into when the politicking began over the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Coalition vows it will wield razor to find disability funds SMH July 30, 2012

The federal Coalition says it will find the $8 billion-a-year extra needed to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme by slashing spending, while Labor says it wants the states to contribute.

 

High scores come at a higher cost SMH July 30, 2012

Educator Phil Beadle, a former British high school teacher of the year, questions China's tiger teaching methods.

It is high time we recognised that ranking ourselves against people who are wildly different from us culturally, and who are at a different stage of evolution as a society, is a mug's game … a mug's game that stops us developing our own cultural approach to education as being as good as it could be

Study plan to help dreams come true SMH July 29, 2012

Drew Rooke and James O'Doherty: Under the $1.5 million scheme, which will offer 180 placements, principals of low socio-economic schools will identify which students have the most potential to succeed in certain university courses.

These students will then be eligible for an early offer, provided they meet the reduced cut-off for their preferred degree.


No argument here, Smith's Hill girl is the clear winner
SMH July 28, 2012

Public school student Isabel Crawford from Smith's Hill High School beat students from public and private sectors to win this year's NSW Plain English Speaking Award.

 

Girls more forgiving, boys 'unlearn', education report finds SMH July 27, 2012

They may never earn as much but girls continue to be streets ahead of boys in educational outcomes, according to a new report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

Men also continue to have worse health outcomes than women and are much more likely to commit offences and be incarcerated.

Only 75 per cent of boys entering high school in 2011 were likely to continue studying until the end of year 12, compared with 84 per cent for girls, the Gender Indicators report says.

Girls generally adapt more readily to school than boys – which meant that good teaching practice is much more critical for young men, he said.

ABS Gender Indicators Report covers Economic Security; Education; Health; Work & Family Balance; Safety & Justice; and Democracy, Governance & Citizenship.

 

Coalition to dump Gonski reforms: Pyne SMH July 26, 2012

Jewel Topsfield: The federal Coalition has revealed it will repeal any legislation passed to introduce the Gonski reforms to the school funding system if elected to government next year.

However, opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, who believes the reforms would lead to higher private school fees, said the Coalition would support legislation extending the existing funding model for two years to allow the public to decide at the federal election which party's policy it supported.

''Anything the government did that undermined non-government school funding and was forced on parents we will dismantle,'' Mr Pyne told The Age.

The Coalition has pledged to retain the existing funding model, even though the Gonski report said it was ''unnecessarily complex'' and lacked ''coherence and transparency''.

The Coalition would re-introduce an establishment grant for new private schools, valued at about $500 per student for the first two years.

A Coalition government would also introduce a voucher system for students with disabilities as promised during the 2010 election campaign. Students with disabilities would receive an education card worth up to $20,000 a year, which would follow the child whether they went to a public or private school. ''The way children with disabilities are now funded is nothing short of a national scandal,'' Mr Pyne said.

 

Resource Allocation Model – Fact Sheets

 

Some clever ideas in the new plans for funding NSW public schools Daily Telegraph July 25, 2012 6.01 pm

Maralyn Parker – Article and Blog

There are several bright ideas included in the new funding model for NSW public schools announced this week - undoubtedly timed to coincide with the COAG meeting where NSW refused to agree on a national disability insurance scheme, and no mention was made of Gonski.

Definitely the best part of the proposed NSW public school funding model is the notion of a standard cost for a NSW public school teacher and how it will be used to stop principals cashing in their experienced teachers when they take over their school staffing budgets in the future.

Schools from the wealthier suburbs will still take bigger slice of the latest school funding cake SMH July 25, 2012

Andrew Stevenson: Many schools on Sydney's outer metropolitan fringe will continue to receive less funding than comparable schools in wealthier suburbs under a new NSW government funding regime.

NSW ups the ante on school funding SMH July 24, 2012

The NSW government has stolen a march on the Commonwealth, outlining a new education financing model before federal cabinet can agree on a formal response to the Gonski review of school funding.

In term four this year NSW will implement a resource allocation model in 229 schools, providing a base allocation for every school and loadings for those with indigenous students, those with disabilities, low proficiency in English or from low socio-economic backgrounds.

"Funding will ensure no principal need worry about the cost of a teacher, leaving principals to choose teachers based on teacher quality and skills required to best meet the needs of their students," Mr Piccoli said.

The deputy president of the teachers' federation, Gary Zadkovich, said the announcement was ''all about glossy spin on what we still characterise as a means over time to reduce expenditure''.

 



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