Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students
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Labor promises to fully fund Gonski

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has brought school funding to the fore of Labour’s election campaign by committing to fully fund the Gonski reforms in a package that will cost $4.5 billion over school years 2018 and 2019 and a total of $37.3 billion a decade.

The Coalition has so far only committed to fund four years of Gonski, not the full six years. Labour has also promised to reverse the $30 billion reduction to school funding over the next decade revealed by the Coalition in its 2014 budget.

Entitled Your Child. Our Future, Labor’s education plan has set key benchmarks that indicate by 2020 it will ensure 95 per cent Year 12 (or equivalent) completion and by 2025 Australia will return to the top 5 countries in reading, maths and science.

Despite admitting there are some instances around the country where the implementation of Gonski funding has improved outcomes in schools, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the government does not believe increased funding automatically improves educational and student outcomes. The government has refused to commit to the final two years of Gonski funding.

“So what we need to focus on, and what the Turnbull Government has been focussing on, are the things that matter in relation to improving student performance: the right curriculum in schools, the best quality in our teachers, the engagement of parents, [and] the autonomy of school communities to be able to set a course that’s relevant to their school,” Birmingham said.

“The opportunity to create the right type of environment to meet the innovation challenges of the future, to create an entrepreneurial spirit, to ensure people are studying science and maths and technology and engineering – skills that will equip them for the future – these are the things we should focus on first. And in those areas that we know will actually make a difference to student outcomes and school performance, you then make funding decisions as to how you support them.”

Federal President of the Australian Education Union (AEU), Correna Haythorpe, welcomed Labor’s plan and said Gonski funding is the only way to ensure all children have a chance to make the most of their potential.

“The education of our children is too important to be a partisan political issue,” she said. “We need [Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull to back the full Gonski, not just stick to [Former Prime Minister] Tony Abbott’s policy of ending needs-based funding after 2017 and cutting real funding to schools.

“Minister Birmingham needs to recognise that Gonski is delivering results in the States where funding is going straight to schools. He and Malcolm Turnbull have a stark choice – do they continue investing in programs that are helping students, or do they abandon them?”

Secondary schools, the health and physical education learning area and ACHPER

The importance of quality health and physical education delivery in secondary schools cannot be understated to ensure students are given developmentally appropriate opportunities to engage in active play and positive health choices, writes Alison Turner, ACHPER National Executive Director.

How often do we open a news article and hear of the concerns that face our children and youth regarding Health and Physical Education (HPE) issues? Reports range from articles focused on sedentary living, disengagement with physical activity, bullying, obesity, mental health and general student wellbeing in schools. Often secondary schools and teachers can be expected to provide a “cure” for all social determinants of health and wellbeing. HPE is a learning area that can support children and adolescents in the choices they make and can manifest in the skills, knowledge and understandings that will ensure students are equipped to make decisions that will impact on their own health and wellbeing choices, hopefully for life.

As the leading professional association representing teachers and other professionals working in the fields of HPE, ACHPER is invested in making a difference to schools, teachers and students. The “available for use” (not yet endorsed) Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education delivered through the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is being implemented in schools with diversity amongst states. ACHPER has been proactive in advocating for the value of the HPE learning area, developing partnerships that can contribute to a school’s HPE, sport, health promoting frameworks and activity. ACHPER also delivers professional learning opportunities to specialist HPE teachers, with the aim of contributing to enhancing teacher knowledge, skills and understandings.

Secondary schools, in all states other than South Australia, now include Year 7. This systemic adjustment exposes Year 7s to HPE specialist teachers with pedagogy that may enhance delivery of an integrated HPE curriculum. Secondary schools also have the opportunity to deliver senior schooling courses in the context of HPE to give student pathways for ATAR and vocational education and training courses.

The importance of HPE

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians is strong and clear in its intention for all young people to be supported through education to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008). The Foundation – Year 10 (F-10) Australian Curriculum: HPE has been developed with this goal central to its construction.

HPE is the curriculum area that engages students in worthwhile learning experiences to develop skills, knowledge, self-efficacy and dispositions that will enable young people to live healthy and active lifestyles. The HPE learning area supports students to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing and also engage in lifelong activity.

A unique aspect of the F-10 HPE learning area is the wide range of learning contexts that provide substantial opportunities for developing interpersonal and collaborative skills, good communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills. Movement is a powerful medium for learning and, through it, students can develop and practise a range of personal, social and cognitive skills. HPE is a contributor to the development of resilience strategies and skills for conflict resolution and assertiveness.

With senior schooling HPE courses delivered by state authorities, senior students have the opportunity to prepare for their own career pathways in movement, sport science, health promotion and holistic careers by engaging with the skills and knowledge developed in the HPE learning area.

Challenges in the provision of HPE as a learning area in secondary schools

Schools are challenging as well as highly-rewarding environments. Secondary schools and teachers have much asked of them to deliver a holistic scaffold that will ensure students will develop the confidence and capabilities in all learning areas. A ‘crowded curriculum’ is a phrase often reiterated and recognised universally. Schools have community demands placed upon them to address each and every student’s needs. ACHPER also recognises the responsibilities for teachers in their preparation and delivery of relevant curriculum for 21st century student and current health and physical education agendas. Active and healthy students will have the skills, knowledge and understandings to engage their own and other health decisions. Activity choices in schools may present options to engage and motivate students who may historically and culturally have disengaged from traditional sport models.

Sport often enhances school and community engagement, however may not cater to each and every student. Movement and health is vital to all students. The HPE learning area, teachers and schools are aware of the responsibility to support students through education to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. For this to be achieved, the importance of quality HPE delivery in schools cannot be understated to ensure children are given developmentally appropriate opportunities to engage in active play and positive health choices.

How can ACHPER support secondary teachers in HPE?

ACHPER advocates for HPE, provides partnership links with education authorities, National Sporting Organisations and other health stakeholders, and also delivers professional learning and resources that can enhance school HPE and teacher quality.

ACHPER supports the Australian Curriculum: HPE in its current ACARA form with curriculum content identifying what teachers are expected to teach and students are expected to learn in HPE from F-10.

Learning in HPE is enhanced when secondary teachers are aware of the five interrelated propositions underpinning the Australian Curriculum: HPE; focussing on the educative purposes, developing health literacy, including a critical inquiry approach, taking a strengths based approach and valuing movement. This has been the focus of much of ACHPER professional learning both at the state branch level and through our international conferences. ACHPER will continue to unpack the five propositions and will support teacher understanding of the implications these propositions have for the HPE learning area. Professional learning support for the delivery of senior schooling courses is also available to enable teachers to have current knowledge about the delivery of ATAR and VET based certificates.

Whilst we recognise that some decisions are best made at the state and school level, ACHPER also believes that it is necessary for schools to provide opportunities for physical activity participation throughout the year. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (Department of Health, 2014) highlight the need for minimisation of sedentary behaviour and engagement in regular physical activity to gain health and wellbeing benefits. Schools are important environments for establishing community linkages and access to lifelong physical activity participation by fostering opportunities to appreciate and value movement. This is best delivered to students by teachers.

A school environment, curriculum and parental expectations make schools vibrant and evolving communities. ACHPER would like to advocate strongly for HPE as a learning area and other enrichment activities such as sport, dance, outdoor education and evidence-based health programs, to be a crucial element of your school. With the innate enjoyment that children and young adults have for movement, it is essential that HPE be supported through every school environment to ensure that every student has the skills, knowledge and understanding to be engaged, confident and capable learners.

References

Department of Health 2014, National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians, Canberra: Australian Government. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs 2008, Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Retrieved from here.

Alison Turner is the National Executive Director of the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation Inc. (ACHPER). She is originally from Adelaide where she was educated and completed her tertiary studies before teaching in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. She has held various positions including that of Principal Consultant HPE K-12 for the WA Department of Education 2008 – 2012 and recently has led the Active Living WA project as the principal policy officer for this project.

With a background in elite level Volleyball and coaching, she has been Vice President of the WA Branch of ACHPER, member of course advisory committees for writing and developing senior school courses in West Australian Certificate of Education Senior School courses in Physical Education Studies, Health Studies and Outdoor Education, worked with gifted and talented programs including the establishment and review of specialised programs in WA secondary schools, worked as a sessional lecturer at Edith Cowan University in Health Studies from 2009 -2011 and led the WA education department consultation processes during the development of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education.

About ACHPER

Celebrating its 60th year in 2015, the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation Inc. (ACHPER) aims to promote active and healthy living for all Australians through education, advocacy, partnership and professional practice. ACHPER is represented at a National level, and also has branches in each state and the Northern Territory.

ACHPER has direct contact with over 30,000 HPE professionals and reach to over 3.5 million Australian students in over 9,000 schools throughout Australia. These contacts include specialist and generalist Primary and Secondary HPE teachers, academics and tertiary educators leading HPE teacher training, Principals, students, sport coaches, and education policy and curriculum leaders. We are a member based, not-for-profit organisation with a significant profile across the country.

ACHPER also deliver resources, blogs and ongoing opportunities to enhance teacher quality through our website and our two National publications; The Active and Healthy Magazine and the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport and Physical Education. By offering continuous and current information to teachers, it provides members with the opportunity to tap into the ACHPER academic networks and current evidence-based information that may influence their practice. For further information, please visit www.achper.org.au.

Alison Turner Headshot

The VET challenge

Considerable debate continues about the value of vocational education and training (VET) and in particular the value of VET delivered to secondary students. “Vocational education is central to Australia’s economic growth and business productivity. The VET reform agenda is multi-faceted but focused on getting better outcomes for students, employers, training providers and taxpayers.” (Australian Government, Department of Education and Training, July 2015)

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Students’ motivation and engagement in writing: Do they have the ‘write’ stuff?

Students’ motivation and engagement in writing: Do they have the ‘write’ stuff?

Professor Andrew J. Martin and Dr Rebecca J. Collie
School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia

Dr Jen Scott Curwood
Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia

The importance of writing
Writing is a core literacy skill that all students need to master to be able to function effectively in school, the workplace, and the community. It is also a major focus of national educational bodies. In Australia, for example, writing is included as one of four core areas assessed in the nationwide tests of student achievement (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy [NAPLAN]), and students are expected to know how to write within diverse creative, informative, and persuasive genres.

However, many students struggle with writing, including spelling and grammar as well as audience and purpose. Consequently, there is a need for more research to understand how writing outcomes may be improved, especially since written tasks are often how students communicate their knowledge about a particular topic or discipline within both formative and summative assessment tasks.

In particular, motivation and engagement have been identified as key factors important for improving writing outcomes. Here we summarise findings of a recent Australian study of writing motivation and engagement published in the international journal, Educational Psychology (Collie, Martin, & Curwood, 2015). This study identified the motivation and engagement factors important for students’ writing success.

What is writing motivation and engagement?
Writing motivation refers to students’ inclination, energy, and interest in writing and writing tasks – including essays, stories, short answers, and reports. Engagement refers to the writing behaviours and writing strategies that follow from their writing motivation. While students may take part in very different writing tasks depending on the subject area, their ability to craft a creative story in English and to produce a detailed report in science (for example) are in part dependent upon the attitudes, behaviours, and emotions relevant to writing and writing tasks.

Most writing motivation and engagement research has focused on individual aspects of motivation and engagement – for example, only on self-belief or confidence in writing, or on students’ valuing of writing, or on writing fear and anxiety. To best understand writing motivation and engagement, it is important to look at a wide range of writing motivation and engagement factors. The Motivation and Engagement Wheel (Martin, 2003, 2010) captures this range of motivation and engagement factors.

The motivation and engagement wheel
The Wheel (below) identifies positive and negative aspects of students’ motivation and engagement.

In most research and student assessment, this Wheel applies to school generally (i.e., motivation and engagement at school) or in particular school subjects (e.g., in mathematics, English, history, and science). The study published in Educational Psychology investigated the Wheel’s factors in the writing domain, as follows:

Self-belief. Self-belief is students’ belief and confidence in their writing tasks and in their ability to write.

Valuing. Valuing refers to how much students believe that writing is useful, relevant, meaningful, and important.

Learning focus. Students who are learning-focused are interested in learning how to improve their writing, develop new writing skills, and do a good job for its own sake and not just for rewards or the marks they may get for their efforts.

Persistence. Persistence is how much students keep applying themselves to their writing, even if that writing task is difficult or challenging.

Planning (and monitoring). Planning refers to how much students plan their written work, and monitoring refers to the strategies used to keep track of their written work and their progress.

Task management. Task management refers to how students use their writing time and organise their writing task.

Anxiety. Anxiety has two parts: feeling nervous and worrying. Feeling nervous is the uneasy or sick feeling students get when they think about or do their writing tasks. Worrying is their fear about not doing very well in these writing tasks.

Uncertain control. Students have an uncertain or low sense of control when they are unsure how to write well or how to avoid writing poorly.

Failure avoidance. Students are failure avoidant when the main reason they apply themselves to their writing is to avoid doing poorly or letting others down.

Self-sabotage. Students self-sabotage when they do things that reduce their success in writing tasks. Examples include putting off doing their writing or wasting time while they are meant to be writing.

Disengagement. Disengagement refers to thoughts and feelings of giving up in writing tasks, detachment from writing tasks, feelings of helplessness as they approach their writing, and little or no involvement in writing tasks.

Assessing students using the Motivation and Engagement Scale
The Motivation and Engagement Scale (Martin, 2016) is used in schools (e.g., by teachers, counsellors, psychologists) to assess students on each part of the Wheel. There is a primary school version (Motivation and Engagement Scale – Junior School) and a high school version (Motivation and Engagement Scale – High School). Students answer a set of questions for each part of the Wheel and receive a score that can be compared against Australian norms. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. There are 11 parts of the Wheel and thus students receive 11 scores. Students’ scores can be used to provide educational assistance, information to teachers and parents, or to benchmark year groups or the entire school.

Our study published in Educational Psychology used the Motivation and Engagement Scale to assess students’ motivation and engagement in writing. This article describes our major findings using the Motivation and Engagement Scale in this way.

Students in the study
Our study involved 781 male high school students from one government school located in a middle class area of Sydney. Students had an average age of 14-15 years and were in grades 7-12. Students were asked to complete the Motivation and Engagement Scale as well as numerous other survey items that explored various literacy outcomes, including their enjoyment of writing, their involvement and participation in writing tasks, their writing resilience in the face of difficult writing tasks and challenges, and their literacy achievement.

What did we find?
Key writing motivation and engagement factors: We found that the 11 parts of the Motivation and Engagement Wheel were indeed relevant to the writing domain. It is certainly the case that writing motivation and engagement are underpinned by the following positive factors: self-belief, valuing, learning focus, planning (and monitoring), task management, and persistence. It is also the case that there are some motivational barriers to writing, including: anxiety, failure avoidance, uncertain control, self-sabotage, and disengagement.

Effects of writing motivation and engagement: We found that the positive writing motivation and engagement factors were associated with greater enjoyment of writing, greater participation in writing tasks, more positive writing goals, more resilience when faced with difficult writing tasks, and higher literacy achievement. Notably, we also found that the negative writing motivation and engagement factors were associated with less enjoyment of writing, less participation in writing tasks, less positive writing goals, less resilience when faced with difficult writing tasks, and lower literacy achievement.

Conclusion
Our research has highlighted very clear and specific motivation and engagement factors relevant to students’ writing. The research also showed that these motivation and engagement factors are significantly associated with many important writing outcomes, including literacy, which in turn shapes student achievement across multiple subject areas.

Given writing and writing tasks are central to students’ success at school (and beyond), practitioners are to be mindful of the important motivation and engagement factors relevant to writing. Our results provide information to practitioners to help the students who struggle with writing, while maintaining the positive experiences of those who are writing well.

References
Collie, R.J., Martin, A.J., & Curwood, J.S. (2015). Multidimensional motivation and engagement for writing. Educational Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01443410.2015.1093607
Martin, A.J. (2003). How to motivate your child for school and beyond. Sydney: Random House/Bantam.
Martin, A.J. (2010). Building classroom success: Eliminating academic fear and failure. New York: Continuum.
Martin, A.J. (2016). The Motivation and Engagement Scale. Sydney, Australia: Lifelong Achievement Group (www.lifelongachievement.com).

 

 

 

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Reproduced with permission from A.J. Martin and Lifelong Achievement Group (download Wheel from www.lifelongachievement.com)

St Peter’s Girls’ School deploys Parallels Desktop® for Mac Business Edition

The challenge for St Peter’s Girls’ School was to provide a stable platform that enables Mac OS and Windows environments to co-exist, providing teachers the option to switch between operating systems seamlessly as needed.

St Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School is an independent school based in South Australia. It offers South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) as well as being an authorised International Baccalaureate (IB) World School teaching both the Junior School and the Diploma Program in Years 11 and 12.

Business challenge

St Peter’s Girls’ School is one of Australia’s most innovative girls’ schools, acclaimed for its academic excellence, caring atmosphere and strong community spirit. The school provides the highest quality education from Pre-School to Year 12 in a stimulating, caring and supportive environment.
Known for providing quality education, the school also maximizes each student’s learning potential by leveraging on IT as a teaching tool. In recent years, the use of Macs at St Peter’s Girls’ School has increasingly proved effective, both as a teaching and learning tool.

“The school’s growing Mac user base, the increasing frequency of use by staff, and the inevitable need to support Windows-based business critical applications had likewise increased management issues, causing tremendous strains on the school’s IT department,” St Peter’s Girls’ School Information and Communication Technology Manager, Nicolas Cronis, said.

“We needed a cost effective, easy-to-use solution to manage the school’s current stable of 100 staff machines running both Windows PC environment and Mac OS X® platform, without disrupting operations or draining resources. Also, as the school is expecting additional computers in 2015, scalability was also a critical requirement for us.”

The challenge for IT was to provide a stable platform that enables Mac OS and Windows environments to co-exist, providing teachers the option to switch between operating systems seamlessly as needed, enabling them to be as effective as they can be in doing their jobs – without being restrained by operating system and computing environment issues.

Solution

After careful evaluation of a number of similar solutions, St Peter’s Girls’ School chose to deploy Parallels Desktop® for Mac Business Edition, which allows teachers to run Windows and Mac applications seamlessly side by side without rebooting, thereby enabling them to provide a richer teaching and learning environment. A proven solution of choice for many of the world’s top educational institutions that have adopted a multi-platform approach, the Parallels solution also met the school’s other critical requirements, such as the scalability and stability of the platform.

“Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition is the ideal solution for educational institutions looking to adopt a multi-platform approach to teaching and learning,” Cronis said. “A stable, easy to manage platform that gives teachers the flexibility to run and switch between their Windows and Mac programs as needed without re-booting, it is an enabling tool for teachers that help increase their productivity and effectiveness in their ability to perform their jobs.”

Results

Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition enables teachers at St Peter’s Girls’ School to run both Windows and Mac OS X applications seamlessly without the need for IT intervention.

“With Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition, teachers at St Peter’s Girls’ School have never been more flexible in creating teaching aids that make teaching more fun, interesting, and effective,” Cronis said. “In addition to its reliable performance, the solution is easy to use, allowing files to be dragged and dropped across different operating systems.”

Parallels is delivering solutions that are facilitating a richer, more diverse teaching and learning experience for teachers and students, respectively. Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition features security management that allow the school’s IT administrators to have full control over device access by assigning specific rights to teachers. It also lets IT centrally configure and control what teachers can have on their Mac or desktop PC.

Following the introduction of Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition for teachers, St Peter’s Girls’ School is looking forward, hoping to extend the same deployment for its growing number of student Mac users, who also require access to Windows-based productivity applications.

Working with parents to solve BYOD frustrations

With research showing almost one quarter of Australian parents have purchased the wrong electronic device for their school child, or a device that doesn’t do what is needed, experts suggest principals and teachers should work closely with parents to ensure greater awareness surrounding the purchase of BYOD technology.

Pip Cleaves, parent, head teacher and Senior Education Consultant at Design, Learn, Empower recommends that teachers and principals have open discussions with school communities about BYOD technology requirements, share the required specifications of the technology, offer recommendations with variety in price, and ensure parents know exactly what a device will be used for to ensure purchased devices suit the learning needs of their children.

“Having the wrong device can be likened to bringing the wrong exercise book to school,” Cleaves explains. “For teachers this means they have to be prepared for both paper and non-paper based learning.

“Taking extra time to prepare for the paper based classroom, when the norm is digital, is an extra complication that does not ensure equity in learning experiences. This is difficult for teachers to deal with and they tend to feel a little frustrated.

“When all students bring devices that ensure solid digital learning experiences, then this can ensure a teacher can focus on student outcomes and growth, not preparing for the minority that are not able to join in learning experiences with their peers.

“Talking with parents and ensuring they are aware of what a student needs to do on a laptop, and speaking about what sorts of things a child likes to do with technology when learning, is an important role of the 21st Century Teacher.”

New research from Microsoft Australia has revealed that individual learning requirements are not a top priority for parents when purchasing devices for the classroom.

Price was ranked as the first priority, followed by speed and performance, their child’s learning style, then brand and popularity. The research also revealed over a third of Australian parents are getting little to no guidance when purchasing the correct device for their child, with nearly half ‘in the dark’ when it comes to the technology needs of their children.

Cleaves said sharing websites such as Devices for Schools is a good start as it helps parents think of their child’s learning and see what device is most likely to suit their child.

“Research points out that over 85% parents will spend up to $1000 on devices,” she said. “This all adds up to an expensive decision for parents if they get it wrong. Schools need to work to ensure as much information and choice as possible is available for parents so that they are making informed decisions, not emotional decisions based on their child’s friends or the trendiest device on the shelf.

“Ensuring parents know what a device will be used for, and how learning will be done on a device will help to ensure they make decisions that help their student to achieve the best outcomes they can.”