Toli Papadopoulos, Author at Education Matters Magazine - Page 166 of 172
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Toli Papadopoulos

Mount Bundy's bull

Trip report: 2015 Top End tour

Teachers from around the country shared an experience combining the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Northern Territory, including visits to a cattle station, a cultural cruise in Kakadu, as well as participating in an immersion program in Katherine.

Among those educators to join in on the experience was Megan Webster, from Galen Catholic College in Victoria. Megan explained that the trip offered “lots of educational benefits that would complement a range of subject areas”, and would “also assist with student personal development”.

“As an Indonesian and Humanities teacher, I have been able to discuss what I’ve learned about the live cattle trade with my students, following the visit to Mount Bundy Station near Darwin,” Megan said.

“Since returning from the trip, I taught my students how the Northern Territory (in particular Arnhem Land) has been linked to Indonesia for many, many years before white settlement – the students loved hearing about the similarities in language and culture.”

Coby Beames from the Torrens Valley Christian School found all of the experiences offered were amazing, saying “what a beautiful place the NT is”.

“The things that I liked most would be the Indigenous interactions we had with the various tour groups, cooking, site seeing, sharing stories, listening to culture and learning about a different way of life; such a precious gift,” she said.

It is this cultural element that is particularly expansive for both educators and students who experience the tour. At the centre of this experience lies the wisdom and stewardship of traditional owners, who play an integral role in preserving the integrity of the Territory’s National Parks such as Kakadu and Nitmiluk.

On top of the National Parks experience, educators also had the chance to get ‘up close and personal’ with the local wildlife at Crocodylus Park and Territory Wildlife Park.

In fact, Coby found that there were myriad opportunities to “link curriculum with the tours”.

“From History, Geography, Science, Language, Indigenous Culture, Civics and Citizenship, Religion to Home Economics, there was something for every class,” she said. “If I were to take a Middle School class on such a tour, I wouldn’t go past the Nitmiluk tour’s Footstep program. This is an all-inclusive Indigenous experience which would see the students immersed in culture in a meaningful way.”

Those who have attended say they continue to draw benefit from having developed new contacts in the Northern Territory and indicate they look forward to drawing on the expertise and experience of NT Learning Adventures for future educational trips.

“When my school is ready to organise a trip to the Northern Territory, I have a great understanding of what programs are on offer, suitable accommodation options and transport for students and staff,” Megan said. “Tourism NT’s ‘NT Learning Adventures program’ offers a variety of suitable education programs and can point you in the right direction of how it can be arranged”

“The 2015 NT famil tour was an amazing trip,” echoed Coby. “Tourism NT organised such a great itinerary and we experienced so many diverse activities in the five days. This is a trip not to be missed, I would go again in a heartbeat!”

Learn more about NT Learning Adventures.

Burning cash

Budget blowout for Victoria's eduPass program

eduPass has been put on hold after burning through its initial $2.6 million budget. According to reporting by the Herald Sun, auditors have now been called in to investigate the “severe financial mismanagement” of the project, which was first scheduled for completion in 2015. The Herald Sun has cited ‘leaked departmental documents’ that show only 27 per cent of the project has been completed with its entire budget gone, despite first estimates putting the cost of eduPass at just $1.6 million. The independent audit has thus far recommended additional funding is needed to complete the job, which could bring the bill up to $4 million. “Additional funding was required, as the complexity and scope of the project expanded,” Education Department spokesperson Steve Tolley told the Herald Sun. “The increased cost will be absorbed internally.” The events follow on the misguided Ultranet initiative, which was scrapped in 2013 after $240 million had been invested into the failed project.]]>

Burning cash

Budget blowout for Victoria’s eduPass program

Initially designed as a more secure method for teachers to access the Victorian Education Department’s online services network, eduPass has been put on hold after burning through its initial $2.6 million budget.

According to reporting by the Herald Sun, auditors have now been called in to investigate the “severe financial mismanagement” of the project, which was first scheduled for completion in 2015.

The Herald Sun has cited ‘leaked departmental documents’ that show only 27 per cent of the project has been completed with its entire budget gone, despite first estimates putting the cost of eduPass at just $1.6 million.

The independent audit has thus far recommended additional funding is needed to complete the job, which could bring the bill up to $4 million.

“Additional funding was required, as the complexity and scope of the project expanded,” Education Department spokesperson Steve Tolley told the Herald Sun.

“The increased cost will be absorbed internally.”

The events follow on the misguided Ultranet initiative, which was scrapped in 2013 after $240 million had been invested into the failed project.

Australian flag

Election Week One: Turnbull's $73.6bn promise

our update of two weeks ago, the Federal Budget announced an increase of $1.2 billion over three years for school funding, but it comes with a number of caveats. The amount was announced as part of an overall budgetary commitment of $73.6 billion – the total amount the Commonwealth is planning to provide schools over the next four years. The majority of this money was already budgeted for. The additional $1.2 billion promised by the Coalition will be delivered using state and territory assessments of the neediest schools, as was recommended by the Gonski review, along with a number of other conditions (such as a standardised Year 1 assessment of literacy, phonics and numeracy against national standards, as well as a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy skills for Year 12 students). While the additional funding has been welcomed, it has also been noted that it only partially restores the funding cuts introduced by the Coalition in 2014. By comparison, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor have promised an additional $4.5 billion over two years, which is slated to include $1.8 billion for regional and country classrooms. While more money sounds like it will produce a greater windfall for Australian schools, the priority in which they receive these funds is still determined by the individual states and territories, not by the Commonwealth, thereby producing markedly varied results across the country. The argument being made by the Coalition and a host of pundits is simply that increasing funding does not necessarily increase the performance of schools and, in turn, the academic performance of students themselves. However, this is exactly what the Gonski review was supposed to achieve and it is this element of the academic system that needs to discussed in detail by the major parties. For yet another election campaign, we can all expect to hear the term ‘Gonski’ much more in the weeks to come.]]>

Australian flag

Election Week One: Turnbull’s $73.6bn promise

The marathon campaign in the lead up to July’s Federal election has already yielded some indication of what to expect from the major parties with regard to education spend and policy.

As mentioned in our update of two weeks ago, the Federal Budget announced an increase of $1.2 billion over three years for school funding, but it comes with a number of caveats.

The amount was announced as part of an overall budgetary commitment of $73.6 billion – the total amount the Commonwealth is planning to provide schools over the next four years. The majority of this money was already budgeted for.

The additional $1.2 billion promised by the Coalition will be delivered using state and territory assessments of the neediest schools, as was recommended by the Gonski review, along with a number of other conditions (such as a standardised Year 1 assessment of literacy, phonics and numeracy against national standards, as well as a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy skills for Year 12 students).

While the additional funding has been welcomed, it has also been noted that it only partially restores the funding cuts introduced by the Coalition in 2014.

By comparison, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor have promised an additional $4.5 billion over two years, which is slated to include $1.8 billion for regional and country classrooms.

While more money sounds like it will produce a greater windfall for Australian schools, the priority in which they receive these funds is still determined by the individual states and territories, not by the Commonwealth, thereby producing markedly varied results across the country.

The argument being made by the Coalition and a host of pundits is simply that increasing funding does not necessarily increase the performance of schools and, in turn, the academic performance of students themselves. However, this is exactly what the Gonski review was supposed to achieve and it is this element of the academic system that needs to discussed in detail by the major parties.

For yet another election campaign, we can all expect to hear the term ‘Gonski’ much more in the weeks to come.