Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students
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Respect Our Staff

Queensland Minister calls for respect for teachers

During an estimates hearing at Parliament House this week, Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones denied she had not done enough to try and protect teachers from violent parents and students.

In 2015, 150 parents were banned from schools in Queensland as a result of violence or threats against teachers, while 174 teachers received compensation as a result of being assaulted by students.

While ABC News reports these figures are ‘down on previous years’, LNP education spokesperson Tracy Davis raised the issue with Ms Jones in parliament this week, saying: “It’s almost like fight club”.

Ms Jones responded that everything she had done since achieving her office was “all about empowering teachers and supporting teachers in our classrooms and schools”.

The hearing coincided with Ms Jones’ launch of a new campaign for Queensland’s state schools, dubbed ‘Respect Our Staff’, which is designed to encourage the entire community to prevent the abuse and violence that is regularly directed towards teachers.

“We need to work together to set positive examples for our children, and demonstrate respect for staff and for our schools,” she said.

“This campaign reminds everyone in the school community that we can all play our part in making working and learning environments safe for all students and educators.”

The campaign will consist of social media advertising and print posters that will be displayed at schools to serve as a reminder to parents, students and staff to treat each other with respect.

indigenous history to be taught in HSC

Changes to HSC syllabus to take effect in 2018

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.

School starting age lower

Tasmanian Government releases school starting age 'fact sheet'

Anne Barwick told The Mercury that the proposed change has “the potential to impact children negatively”. “A high percentage of Tasmanian children access kindergarten – a non-compulsory year – and this change equates to children as young as three years, six months being integrated into a school environment,” she said. Further concerns have been raised by the union for childcare workers, the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations, Rural Health Tasmania and the state Opposition, causing the Government to respond with a new fact sheet on the initiative. Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced the fact sheet, saying it aims to dispel concerns raised by detractors of the plan.

“The Government is proposing to lower the compulsory starting age for prep by six months — not 18 months as is being falsely claimed by some,” he said.

“This means instead of starting prep at the age of five, Tasmanians will start at the age of four and a half years. This is a very significant but by no means a radical change, this simply brings Tasmania in-line with the rest of Australia.”

Mr Rockliff confirmed Ms Barwick’s concerns, however, stating that parents will have the choice to send their kids to kindergartner sooner, starting at the age of three years and six months. The Mercury reports that Opposition education spokesperson Michelle O’Byrne contends the initiative is not backed up by solid evidence.

“All that Tasmanians have been told by the Government is that the justification for changing the school starting age is that it will bring the state into line with the rest of the country … there is no definitive Australian school starting age.”

A “Stop lowering the school age in Tasmania” petition organised by United Voice has so far been signed by 2,561 people. The school starting age fact sheet can be found on the Tasmanian Department of Education website.]]>

School starting age lower

Tasmanian Government releases school starting age ‘fact sheet’

Tasmania’s State Government has moved to allay concerns that the proposed new starting age for schoolchildren could be detrimental to kids’ health.

Earlier this year, Tasmania’s Premier Will Hodgman announced the Government would lower the starting age from five to four years and six months, following a review of the Education Act.

At five years, Tasmania currently has the oldest minimum starting age for schoolchildren of any other state or territory in Australia.

However, Early Childhood Australia’s Tasmanian branch President Anne Barwick told The Mercury that the proposed change has “the potential to impact children negatively”.

“A high percentage of Tasmanian children access kindergarten – a non-compulsory year – and this change equates to children as young as three years, six months being integrated into a school environment,” she said.

Further concerns have been raised by the union for childcare workers, the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations, Rural Health Tasmania and the state Opposition, causing the Government to respond with a new fact sheet on the initiative.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced the fact sheet, saying it aims to dispel concerns raised by detractors of the plan.

“The Government is proposing to lower the compulsory starting age for prep by six months — not 18 months as is being falsely claimed by some,” he said.

“This means instead of starting prep at the age of five, Tasmanians will start at the age of four and a half years. This is a very significant but by no means a radical change, this simply brings Tasmania in-line with the rest of Australia.”

Mr Rockliff confirmed Ms Barwick’s concerns, however, stating that parents will have the choice to send their kids to kindergartner sooner, starting at the age of three years and six months.

The Mercury reports that Opposition education spokesperson Michelle O’Byrne contends the initiative is not backed up by solid evidence.

“All that Tasmanians have been told by the Government is that the justification for changing the school starting age is that it will bring the state into line with the rest of the country … there is no definitive Australian school starting age.”

A “Stop lowering the school age in Tasmania” petition organised by United Voice has so far been signed by 2,561 people.

The school starting age fact sheet can be found on the Tasmanian Department of Education website.

Thumb-sucking research from NZ

NZ researchers find nail-biting, thumb-sucking behaviour reduces allergy risk

A new study from the University of Otago, New Zealand, found kids who exhibit thumb-sucking or nail-biting behaviours could be less at risk of developing allergies later in life.

The findings are just one result from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study, a long-running data collection exercise that has followed the lives of 1,037 participants born in 1972 and 1973.

The paper, which appears in the August issue of the US-based journal, Pediatrics, suggests childhood exposure to microbial organisms via thumb-sucking and nail-biting could reduce the risk of developing allergies.

Parents of the participating children were asked to report their thumb-sucking and nail-biting behaviour at ages 5, 7, 9, and 11 years of age. Each of the participants was then checked at page 13 and 32 years old for ‘atopic sensitisation’, which is a positive result on a skin prick test to at least one common allergen.

Results show that the prevalence of sensitisation was lower among children who had sucked their thumbs or bit their nails by 38 percent, compared to those who didn’t at 49 percent. Children who were reported to both suck their thumbs and bite nails had an even lower risk of allergy at 31 percent.

Lead author of the study, Professor Bob Hancox said the exposure to microbes as a result of these behaviours may alter immune functions, resulting in the children becoming less prone to allergy.

“The findings support the “hygiene hypothesis”, which suggests that being exposed to microbes as a child reduces your risk of developing allergies,” he says.

At the same time, Professor Hancox and the other co-authors of the report stress that their findings aren’t grounds for encouraging children to acquire these habits, as it’s not clear as to the net health benefits of such behaviour.

Stephanie Lynch, a medical student who co-authored the study as a summer project, says “although thumb-suckers and nail-biters had fewer allergies on skin testing, we found no difference in their risk for developing allergic diseases such as asthma or hay fever”.

What does the new Victorian Curriculum mean for you?

This article has been provided courtesy of Jacaranda.

In September 2015, the Victorian Government announced the new Victorian Curriculum as a key pillar of its plan to become the ‘Education State’.

As many teachers will know, change in curriculum is not new in Victoria, and the state has long been at the forefront of innovation in curriculum development. A quick snapshot of the past two decades alone reveals a commitment to ongoing reform and to improving learning outcomes for students.

Here’s a summary of the major innovations:

1995: The Curriculum and Standards Framework (CSF) was first implemented in Victorian schools.
2000: The CFS was republished as the CSF II. The CSF described explicitly what Victorian students should know from years prep through to Year 10 in eight key learning areas.
2006: The CSF II was replaced by the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) which was built on the strong foundations of the CSF but also emphasised the interdisciplinary skills students needed to succeed in the world; skills such as how to relate to each other, how to understand the world and how to communicate ideas.
2013: The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (AusVELS) was implemented.
2015: The Victorian Government introduced the new Victorian Curriculum, which can be implemented from 2016 and must be implemented by 2017. The curriculum ‘is the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for life-long learning, social development and active and informed citizenship.’1

As with any curriculum change, there are differences will need to be factored in. While teachers in Victorian schools have proven themselves highly adept at incorporating practical and aspirational elements of each curriculum reform phase, managing the transition can be an overwhelming task. In particular, the 2017 Victorian Curriculum not only introduces several changes that apply across all learning areas, but a number of subject-specific changes as well.

Victorian Curriculum by Jacaranda.
Guide to the new Victorian Curriculum by Jacaranda.

The overall impact, therefore, will inevitably vary by subject. To find out what the 2017 Victorian Curriculum means for you, download Jacaranda’s fact sheet. There’s one for each learning area: Mathematics, Science, Humanities, English and Health and Physical Education. This definitive guide will provide:

      Summary of the key changes that all teachers must implement
      Description of the General Capabilities
      Outline of structural and content changes for each learning area
      Insights from our publishing team

 

We hope the fact sheet is a useful resource to help teachers gain confidence going into 2017. If you have any additional questions about what the curriculum changes mean for you, don’t hesitate to email us.

Reference
1. Source: http://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/