Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students

Collaboration driving teacher professional learning

Teachers need to continually build their skills, be cognisant of new technologies and ideas, as well as engage with other education professionals in order to ride the tides of best and next practice in their chosen career, write Andrew Napier, Jodi Gordon-Moulds and Troy Thompson.

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Step 6 in digital marketing success: How to use email marketing effectively

In this article, we’ll discuss how to use email marketing for your school, and some of the lessons I have learned from being involved in hundreds of email marketing campaigns over the last fifteen years. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read the first four parts of this series: step 1step 2step 3step 4 and step 5.

Email works best when it is time relevant, better read and personal

I remember the days of the weekly printed newsletter, still warm and with that smell straight from the gestetner machine (that’s shown my age, hasn’t it?). Let’s skip forward to 2015, and now email is integral to most people’s lives.

This article will discuss ways in which your school can effectively use email to communicate better and faster with lower costs.

Have your emails read, not ignored

A great email adds value, is personalised, and timely.

Think about your own email behaviour, and which emails you open and which you delete before even reading.

The first goal we need to accomplish is have the recipient not delete your email, but rather open it and read it. There are five factors at play here;

What is in your emails? If they are not relevant, they will quickly become discarded. If you send irrelevant material to the wrong list too often, when you send something relevant, don’t expect anyone to read it.

It is easy with mail systems to break your audience into lists, so parents of primary students get one email, parents of high school students get another, and when a whole of school email needs to go out, send it to both lists at the same time.

Great email marketing software lets you test different versions of emails out, to maximise your open rates, and other goals. This is typically called A/B split testing.

Let’s look at the day and time received. For many, Monday morning is ‘go through a huge pile of emails, and cull viciously’ time, and Friday afternoons is ‘Think about weekend, ignore any emails coming in’ time. We know this by looking at statistics from our email marketing over the last few years.

We know most emails have a better chance of getting opened if they are sent Tuesday to Thursday. This is an old trick from back in direct mail days; people don’t respond well on Mondays and Fridays, as they do mid-week.

Another factor is how frequently you send them. More than weekly can be a nuisance, and less than quarterly means they are likely to forget who you are (unless your ‘from address’ is clearly their child’s school).

The ‘from’ address is vital. If I send an email to you from ‘Miles Burke’, there’s a greater chance of opening it, than if I were to send it as ‘Company you haven’t heard of’. In school situations, having the principal’s name or the school’s name increases open rates.

Subjects make all the difference

Lastly, and one of the most important factors, is the subject line. Instead of ‘News from school’, we have found that ‘Swimming Carnival Thursday, new term planner and school news’ works much better. It shows that there’s real content, not just yet another news item.

Even better, insert the recipient’s name in the subject line. We are all driven by ego to a degree; seeing your name in the email subject is a magnet to opening it.

Instead of;

‘Swimming Carnival Thursday, new term planner and school news’

Why not try out some personalisation in the subject, by using;

‘Miles, there is a swimming carnival this Thursday, new term planner and school news’

How to measure your email success

If you aren’t measuring your email, you are sending out blindly. Any good system will allow you to see who is opening your emails, and when. The absolutely worst way to send out newsletters or other emails is to use Outlook or your mail program; you don’t get an insight into who is actually receiving them, who is opening them, which ones are being trapped by software, or even worse, bounced because recipients’ details have changed.

Using your own mail program means you get all the bounces, and have to manually subscribe and unsubscribe people – not to mention the load on your IT infrastructure!


Sending emails is easy and if done right, very effective. They are great for time pertinent information, and are much cheaper to send than even the fastest photocopier or printer.

There’s even the inevitable loss in children’s school bags to consider as well!

Miles Burke is an Author, Public Speaker and Managing Director of Perth-based digital agency, Bam Creative. His team has created websites and digital marketing campaigns for dozens of schools, and their work has been featured in the media, won plenty of awards and most of all, helped schools demystify the digital marketing space to attract enrolments and better communicate to their communities.


Learning doesn’t get any bigger than this

Jonny Samengo, Executive Officer of Indigenous Education at The Scots College, Sydney, writes about a learning experience like no other.

The evening sky is immense, streaked with pink and purple. It meets the water with a dash of orange and cobalt blue. The hot, immense sun sinks slowly into the horizon. It feels like the water will sizzle and boil when the sun touches it. For some reason, the sun seems bigger, hotter and more powerful than we have ever seen before. Six teenage boys line the shore, looking in all directions and taking in the sheer scale of everything around them. Bigger, bolder, stronger, hotter. The silence is broken by the words ‘Hey boys, no backs to the water!’ The boys suddenly remember their lesson from earlier on in the day and spring round to face the ocean and sunset.

The lesson wasn’t about how to observe the onset of dusk, or how to take a good snap of a sunset, it was about a snap of another kind. Crocodiles. Never, ever, turn your back on the water, as you never know when one of those prehistoric, supersized creatures will get you. As they say, it’s not the crocs you can see that you should worry about, it’s the ones you can’t see.

Now, you don’t get to learn that in a Sydney classroom.

However, in many ways, this is a class room, just a very interactive, large one. These boys soaked up everything about Aboriginal culture; the moiety system, songlines, language, dance and history. In true Aboriginal style, these are not learned in separate classes, but all bound up together in a cultural unison that is simply breathtaking in being so holistic, delicate, intelligent and spiritual.

Where is this and how do I get there, I hear you ask. Well, it is in North East Arnhem Land and Culture College can take you there, accommodate you, teach you and even feed you too. All you need to be is a school age student with a willing school and thoughtful parents.

I run Indigenous Education at The Scots College in Sydney and we have 20 Indigenous boys on scholarship. Around half of these boys are from the Northern Territory. These brave, charming, energetic young men have captivated the attention of fellow Scots students and parents alike and have created a great demand to visit up North and find out more about these boys, their families, land and culture.

Culture College arranged the whole trip. Based out of Nhulunbuy, the College has taken over one of the old mine accommodation blocks in town and from there, we joined up with other local Tour operators, who scooped us all up in a 4×4 bus and took us, amongst other places to Nyinyikay, a very remote homeland of the Yolngu people. There we had a blissful four days and three nights of making spears, fishing, weaving, exploring and learning so many facets of Yolngu culture. Culture College have set up seasonal tents that house 4 students per tent in proper beds and standing room. Hot showers and flushing toilets are a short walk away (being careful to dodge the scurrying hermit crabs) and food is on constant supply, provided by the tour group. Cereal, toast and pancakes for breakfast, wraps for lunch and chicken and rice for dinner and variations on that theme.

If your school doesn’t do trips like this, tell them about Culture College. Maybe you will be lucky enough to join them on the trip as well. I’m sure you never thought you would end up back in a classroom, but you will be glad for this outdoor version. All who go will come back with great experiences, stories and learnings. Above all you will come back with a great respect for the Yolngu people and a renewed appreciation of what it means to share this great country with the oldest civilization on earth. Lucky us. We can all learn from that.

Culture College is an Arnhem Land-based Indigenous cultural and outdoor education immersion program tailored for secondary school students and designed to simultaneously educate and inspire our ‘leaders of tomorrow’ and to invigorate the local homeland economies in the Northern Territory.


The ultimate thermoplastic playground markings

At Project Playgrounds our aim is to encourage outdoor activity by making the school playground a vibrant, stimulating, educational and fun place to be.

New to the Australian market, but bought over from the UK where it has been installed in well over 700 schools, our product is without a doubt the future of playground markings.

Made from thermoplastic, the designs are initially cut out and then applied to concrete, bitumen, tarmac surfaces using heat to bond the thermoplastic with the ground.

Our thermoplastic markings require no maintenance – therefore saving your school money – and will become a capital investment for your school.

We can start applying our markings at the first bell and by lunch time the children can play! There is no need to wait till school holidays or wait for paint to dry, rendering your playground useless.

Far superior to paint, our vibrant markings bring to life any dull concrete surface and renew the look of your school.

The key feature of thermoplastic is its durability. Our markings are long lasting – they don’t fade and will last as long as the surface they are put on.

In addition, our markings are safe, non-toxic, UV stable and have anti slip properties – unlike paint which becomes extremely dangerous in wet weather when it is old and peeling.

We have all the traditional designs but can also create bespoke markings such as school logos or any other unique design.

The results are stunning and will delight your students! They are a hit with both students and teachers and our numeracy and literacy focused markings allow the classroom to be taken outside.

Give your children the playground they deserve and give us a call! 1800 264 307 or email us at for further information.



Landscapes designed to maximise play value

Jeavons Landscape Architects assist school communities to achieve high-quality outdoor environments for play and recreation, teaching and learning, and for social inclusion.

Our thoughtful designs respond to the school community and to the environment. We collaborate with students, staff and parents and prepare landscape master plans and detailed designs to solve complex landscape planning and site design issues.

We work with inter-disciplinary teams of educators, architects, and other designers.

Our award-winning, landscape architectural practice has more than 25 years’ experience and we work in urban and rural settings all over Australia. We enjoy working with:

• Primary schools (State, Independent and Catholic);
• Special schools;
• Secondary schools;
• Integrated campuses;
• Early Learning Centres on school sites; and,
• Existing schools and greenfield sites.

Our specialist skills include the following:

• Design of play settings to maximise play value, usability and inclusion;
• Design of outdoor learning spaces;
• Collaboration with children and adults;
• Design of sustainable, natural landscapes;
• Design for access and inclusion; and,
• Preparation of high quality technical drawings and specifications.

We also work in early childhood centres, children’s hubs, pre-schools and child care centres, therapeutic and sensory gardens, parks and playgrounds, and other community settings.

Telephone (03) 9387 7337, email or visit our website for more information.



Federal Government considering funding final two years of Gonski

During a visit to Tasmania Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Federal Government is considering funding the final two years of Gonski education reforms.

On his way to a radio interview in the town of Launceston the Prime Minister was confronted by protesters calling for the government to fund the full six-year implementation of Gonski funding which spurred ABC Northern Tasmania’s Leon Compton to ask whether the Government would commit.

“Well this is all being considered by the Government in the context of a very tight Budget,” Turnbull said. “Let me just say to you that the Federal support for education right across the board is increasing and it will increase in the future.

“But you know the challenge is managing it in an affordable way. So I don’t want to pre-empt what [Education Minister] Simon Birmingham would say on that but I would encourage you to talk to Simon, the new Education Minister about this and you know all I can say to you that, look my life was transformed by great teachers.

“I have got a lifelong commitment to education and supporting education and supporting means tested scholarships and things of that kind. David Gonski, by the way, happens to be a very old friend of mine, we have literally known each other, and I regret to say nearly fifty years, which is a bit frightening.

“But what David was saying was that we need more resources into education and it needs to be needs-based and you know, everybody agrees on that. The question, the debate is about how you address those needs and how do you ensure that money goes to where it is most needed and where it is going to have the most effect and how do you get the best educational outcome bang for the taxpayer buck? That is the question.”

The new Prime Minister’s slant is much different from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s blanket refusal to consider extending Gonski funding, giving the education sector renewed hope that the importance of needs-based funding will be recognised by the Federal Government.

The Australian Education Union (AEU), which has previously committed to make The Gonski Review and needs-based funding one of the key issues in the 2016 election, has welcomed new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement.

“The Federal Government must deliver the full six years of Gonski funding and we will be waiting to see how the new PM, and Education Minister Simon Birmingham, progress this issue,” Federal AEU President Correna Haythorpe said.

“Schools that have got Gonski funding are already using it to make a positive difference for their students.”