Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students

Teaching a mixed-year class: how to tell the time IN ONE LESSON



Larisa has 18 years’ teaching experience and currently has a mixed-year class comprising children from Prep, Year 1, and Year 2. She had heard about the EasyRead 3 Step Time Teaching System and was curious to see if it had any merit – this is her story.

Prep are not expected to learn anything other than o’clock. Year 1 move to o’clock, half past and a bit of exposure to quarter past and quarter to. Year 2 also do this and then start to move into 5 min increments etc.

It has been my experience with EVERY class that they really struggle with the concept of time, particularly minutes TO the hour.

After researching your system, I got our classroom clock off the wall and grabbed some whiteboard markers. I told the kids I was going to draw all over it but that it would help them learn to tell the time.

First I wrote the numbers (minutes) around the frame of the clock on the ‘past’ side, counting the minutes as I went. Then I started on the ‘to’ side doing the same thing.

After writing all the minutes on, I drew a line down the middle of the clock and wrote ‘past’ and ‘to’ on the glass and I then showed them their new clock.

I then randomly set the hands and modelled to them the 3 step process a few times…the lights started to go on in their heads!!!!

So I thought I would start with the Year 2s and I gave a time to each one and got them to use the 3 steps; 100% success here. Then Year 1s and Preps were keen for a turn so I did the same thing with them…helping them and explaining as I went.

We played a game with it, whereby if the kids got their turn correct they got a point. There were 16 kids in the class that day and the score was 16-0 to the kids. It was brilliant EasyRead 3 Step Time Teaching System works so easily and I was impressed with the immediate results.


Children’s wellbeing in the modern world



Australian kids have a very different childhood to their parents. A generation ago kids played in the streets, often out of sight and contact from their parents for hours on end. In many neighbourhoods today this would be regarded as parental negligence. Where once kids found their own way to school on foot or bike, today most kids are driven to school. The games they play are also different, the vast majority of game time is screen based – whether it is at home, in the car, or at a friend’s place – the screen is the focal point. All of this has implications for childhood learning and wellbeing and the role of schools, writes Anthony Phillips – Director, Camp Australia.
Many young families today have tried to follow the Australian dream and so look to buy their own home so that they can settle down and raise a family. With property pricing being what they are, this is usually a significant financial burden. There are a number of flow-on effects from this which significantly change the physical nature of childhood today:

  • In three out of five Australian families both parents work;
  • Housing blocks are smaller, houses are bigger, making backyards much smaller; and,
  • Safety concerns discourage kids being on the street or at home unsupervised.

While these are relatively easy for parents and teachers to comprehend, the impact of the internet and social media is perhaps less understood. While the internet provides children with access to an unprecedented level of information, it is not without its problems. Firstly many young children cannot distinguish between fact and fiction, or quality and nonsense on the internet. Secondly the internet makes the full breadth of human nature available to anyone who wants to see it – and unfortunately to many who do not. Subsequently the internet is not a safe neighbourhood. Social media is also proving to have some unforeseen consequences. One familiar to many schools, although more typically high schools, is cyber-bullying. One less understood by older generations is the relentless pressure on children to be ‘on’ because their peers are also their paparazzi. With modern phones, any mistake can be recorded and published on social media before the individual has even had time to recover their breath or get their bearings. With these things in mind perhaps we should be grateful that more kids are not suffering from stress and anxiety, rather than surprised that a few of them are.

Many parents are trying hard to ensure physical activity is part of the kid’s child-hood. It is one of the reasons that organised sport is such a major part of the lives of many children outside of school hours. However while this is commendable, structured sporting activities, particularly competitive ones, do not replace all of the benefits children were getting from unstructured play a generation ago.

Unstructured or free play allows children to explore and extend their physical and mental capabilities in their own way. Learning life skills like negotiation, compromise, leadership and teamwork in a variety of circumstances and often from a number of perspectives. For example a simple game of hide-and-seek quickly gives a child the perspective of both the hunter and the hunted. Imagination games allow children to explore the role and importance of rules as they create their own world order. They also help them to understand that in order to lead, one needs to have the ability to get others to follow. Many of these games by their nature combine physical and mental stimulation and activity in ways that build a child’s self confidence in both of these spheres.

It is perhaps a little ironic that after school care, which a generation ago was regarded by children as restrictive, is now one of the best opportunities a child has for free play. This is not to say that it is unstructured chaos, or a longer version of lunch time. However, quality after school care does provide children with a safe environment in which they are encouraged to explore their own ideas as well as new things. After School Care is not what it used to be, it delivers a safe, reliable and nurturing environment for kids to play and grow and it definitely makes kids smile – that is why we do it.

Anthony Phillips is a qualified teacher with over 30 years’ experience in education and school aged care services. As founder and Director of Camp Australia, a leading and trusted after school care organisation providing services to more than 600 schools. Through the Camp Australia Foundation Anthony also strives to positively impact the lives of children beyond the school yard fence.

NSW Govt reveals part of its Gonski spend


Sydney public schools will benefit from a $224 million New South Wales Government initiative that aims to improve the quality of teaching.

The program, dubbed Quality Teaching, Successful Students, was launched by the state’s Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and forms part of the funding promised to schools this year as a result of the NSW Gonski schools funding agreement.

It is currently being rolled-out across NSW and will enable more than 1,000 of the best teachers to mentor and coach other teachers.

Piccoli said the program will improve the skills of teachers and, in turn, improve learning opportunities for students.

“Experienced teachers have knowledge and skills that are even more valuable when they are shared with their colleagues,” he said.

The package enables selected teachers to:

  • Observe colleagues in their classrooms and demonstrate effective teaching strategies;
  • Monitor student performance data across the school to ensure teachers are focused on areas of need; and,
  • Collaborate with colleagues within their school and in other schools.

NSW Teachers Federation Deputy President Gary Zadkovich highlighted the importance of additional support being provided to primary schools.

“For many years the NSW Teachers Federation has been campaigning to achieve increased release time for executive teachers in primary schools so they have the opportunity to mentor and support teaching colleagues in enhancing teaching practice,” he told Education Matters magazine. “This is a welcome additional resource for primary schools and we believe it will greatly assist in further strengthening teaching and learning practice.

“This program will provide important support for teachers to engage in professional development, professional learning, to enhance teaching practice and improve student outcomes.

“It’s really important that teachers are provided with the time to work collegially in their workplace to enhance teaching practice. More time for teachers to collaborate, to share ideas, to support one another, to program cooperatively and develop more effective teaching and learning approaches is good for students and will overall enhance the quality of public education.

“This is also a very important example of the benefits of the Gonski schools funding system – $224 million of additional Gonski funding is going to greatly benefit public schools right across the state and this is yet another example of the importance of all governments around Australia committing to fully funding the Gonski model.”


Northern Beaches Christian School opens world-class education building


Sydney-based Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) is excited to announce the opening of its Manhattan building, an innovative approach to school design.

Designed by WMK Architecture, Manhattan is a world class, open learning and social space for both students and teachers. It is designed to help students discover and explore and to inspire them to take charge of their own learning, with expert guidance and support from the NBCS teachers.

“Our aim at NBCS is to make learning deep, engaging, relevant and fun,” Stephen Harris, NBCS Principal, said. “We wanted a building that will inspire our students by creating a wonderful learning environment and Manhattan is a fantastic addition to our school campus.”

The Manhattan building is designed to enable truly personal, authentic and customised teaching. There is clear evidence that well designed spaces have an immediate and positive impact on creative thinking, productivity and learning.

A vital element of the design, is the space known as the City which includes a café and a variety of connection spaces. This precinct is fast becoming the heart of the school community.

“We’ve designed an architecture of spaces, it’s not just buildings that define the heart of the school campus and lead the way for new innovative learning in Australia and worldwide,” Greg Barnett, Managing Director of WMK Architecture, said.

The building was completed on time, under budget and it meets very strict environmental and sustainability standards. Solar power provides the building’s energy needs during the day, rainwater is collected and all food waste is recycled.


Early uni places for Year 12s up for grabs in Victoria


Victorian-based La Trobe University has launched its annual Aspire Early Admissions Program that gives Year 12 students the opportunity to secure an early university place.

Now in its second year the Aspire program offers Australian high school leavers who volunteer and give back to their community the opportunity to secure their place at La Trobe before the completion of final exams.

In order to qualify applicants need to be a domestic Year 12 school leaver actively volunteering in the community. The level and length of their volunteering engagement, coupled with a school recommendation and minimum Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking (ATAR) grades, will form the basis of the assessment.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the program encourages volunteerism and education in Victoria, while supporting a diverse range of community organisations.

“At La Trobe, we are committed to making a positive difference to the world in which we live, and the Aspire program enables us to support the efforts of inspiring young people whose values and ambitions align with ours,” he said. “We want to encourage these community leaders of the future to come and study at La Trobe University.”

Stacey Cockram, who started at La Trobe this year under the Aspire program, has been a Surf Life Saving volunteer for five years and managed to successfully balance her studies with community work throughout her high school years.

“Receiving an offer from La Trobe to pursue a Bachelor of Outdoor Education, before ATARs were released, was a memorable milestone in my life,” she said. “I feel like it has really fast-tracked my career.”

Already in support of this unique program are the Country Fire Authority (CFA), St John Ambulance and the Duke of Edinburgh who are providing their secondary school student volunteers with priority access to the Aspire program.

Volunteers who have been committed to the CFA or St John Ambulance for a minimum of six months will automatically meet the community engagement requirement for the Aspire program. Duke of Edinburgh participants with a Bronze medal or above will also automatically qualify.

Martin Wells, Community Relations Manager and St John Ambulance Victoria, said the organisation is delighted to give its cadet volunteers an early university placement to reward them up-front for their selfless acts of providing First Aid in their community.

“Having already received significant interest from our cadets as they approach final year schooling, it is encouraging that they see value in this offer as much as we do,” he said. “It’s a real benefit to our cadets who work hard to be the difference in their community to have this opportunity with such a prestigious and well regarded institution as La Trobe University.”

Applications for Aspire are now open and if successful, students will receive an offer to study at La Trobe in September this year. For more information, students can visit the Aspire website and organisations interested in partnering with La Trobe can contact Melanie Edgar

Listening with intent – what your students can tell you about your practices

Often when delivering lessons teachers can be so caught up in the process that they forget to stop and try to perceive the learning’s impact from the eyes of their students and, writes Anthony Speranza, a teacher’s fundamental role should be to evaluate that impact on their students using a variety of sources, including with the assistance of students themselves.

Read more