Following a meeting of Australia’s education ministers, the national online rollout of NAPLAN has been postponed until 2021, after connectivity issues and computer glitches impacted numerous students who took the test online earlier this year.
The New South Wales Department of Education and Teachers Mutual Bank have launched a joint initiative in a bid to find five extraordinary teachers keen to inspire students across the nation through a new educational YouTube channel. Read more
Two NSW schools have taken a new approach to student learning and engagement after partnering with Arcare Aged Care in a unique program that paired students with aged care residents to teach them about a lifetime so different to their own.
Last month the NSW Early Education Minister, Leslie Williams announced $115 million in funding for Start Strong, a program designed to make early education more affordable for all NSW families, while removing nearly all fees for Aboriginal families and low-income families.
Now the NSW Government is launching what is described as a ‘thought-provoking campaign’ that draws attention to the importance of early childhood education.
The campaign, dubbed ‘It Makes You Think’, has a stated aim of increasing the amount of hours children are enrolled in day care or community preschool in the year prior to entering primary school.
“A child needs a great parent, and a great teacher. Many do not know that a preschool program, whether it’s in a dedicated preschool or a through long day care, provides the foundation for your children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievements at school and in life,” said Mrs Williams.
“It’s a confusing area and there are many myths about cost, availability and the real benefits to children – which is why it’s so important to break down the barriers.”
One of the key statistics underpinning the campaign is the fact that 90 per cent of brain development occurs before the age of five years – and this is the kind of detail that the NSW Government hopes will impress upon parents the importance of ensuring their young children gain maximum benefit from early education.
“Our social and emotional skills known as ‘soft skills’ are critical to success in school and life – for instance how to control emotions, take turns, share with others and pay attention to instruction, actually begin forming in childhood and learning these skills in preschool could prevent harder problems later in life,” explained Mrs Williams.
“Unlocking a child’s brain is the key to helping parents understand why early learning is such a must for their child’s development.”
Other Facts from ‘It Makes You Think:
- Kids who participate in early childhood education are more likely to have an IQ score higher than 90 at age 5
- Preschool puts disadvantaged children at a level playing field with other children
- In the first 3-5 years, there is a dramatic growth spurt, as approximately 90-95 per cent of cells organize and create pathways to more sophisticated brain functions
- A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to 3 – producing 700 new neural connections every second
- Young children have a unique ability to learn more languages easily and their vocabulary often quadruples between the ages of 2 and 4
Beginning in January 2017, the Start Strong initiative will deliver $115 in funding over 18 months to reduce the cost of early education and encourage parents to enroll their kids in 600 hours of early education each year.
The NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Services (BOSTES) has released draft syllabuses for 17 HSC courses in English, history, maths and science in a bid to modernise education for the ‘Asian Century’.
BOSTES President Tom Alegounarias said in a media release that the draft syllabuses allow for deeper learning opportunities to students and “a richer engagement in the subjects they choose for their senior years of school”.
“Increasing content depth also supports more analytical assessment enabling us to also redesign High School Certificate (HSC) exam questions.
“For maths courses, common content and marking is being introduced to ensure students studying the higher level maths courses are recognised and to reduce any perceived incentive to study maths below their ability for an ATAR advantage,” Mr Alegounarias said.
Proposes Changes at a Glance:
- English – Mandatory unit will focus on spelling, grammar, vocabular and punctuation
- Mathematics – Statistics to be included in all courses. Increased emphasis on problem solving
- Science – Promotion of critical thinking over rote learning of facts
- History – Further opportunities to study Asian history, feminism and Indigenous leaders. Also, deeper analysis of WWII and its impact
Speaking to AAP, Mr Alegounarias also indicated that revisions to English seek to overcome a 30-year trend in education “to underplay grammar”.
BOSTES has proposed modern history electives to highlight the role of women and Indigenous leaders such as Pemulwuy, Eddie Mabo and Faith Bandler, but some syllabuses in technology and Asian language courses won’t be reviewed until next year.
Once confirmed, the new syllabuses will be taught to Year 11 students in 2018, giving teachers a year to adapt.
The drafts are open for public consultation until August 31.