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Teacher-only excursions to the Top End in 2017

Tourism NT is once again seeking expressions of interest from secondary teachers interested in attending an exploratory, familiarisation excursion to the Top End next year.

The trips, which are held each year with an aim of showing educators what the Northern Territory is able to offer schools and their students, combine a mixture of natural and cultural experiences.

A spokesperson for Tourism NT described the opportunity as a “five-day journey around the Top End of the beautiful Northern Territory visiting some of the best educational experiences on offer to students on school trips”.

Trip itineraries are selected from experiences on offer with NT Learning Experiences, a group of local tour operators in the NT that have a passion about education, and have made efforts to align their experiences with the Australian Curriculum. Each teacher trip tries to fit in as many of these experiences as possible within the five-day timeframe.

“Past teacher trips have proved highly successful with many of the teachers falling in love with the NT endeavouring to get their school to visit the NT on a future school trip,” said the spokesperson.

Recent attendees from a 2016 trip had offered glowing feedback on the NT Learning Adventures teacher trips, with Kate Tyndall from Melbourne’s Travancore School saying it gave her her “a better indication of the outcomes, rather than reading about them online or in a brochure”.

“Meeting the activity leaders has also given me more confidence in reaching out to them in the future to discuss potential school trips,” said Ms Tyndall. “Not only was it a great professional opportunity, but I also appreciated the ability to meet other teachers in a different setting, which gave us the ability to reflect and discuss school trips and planning.”

In order to apply, or simply to enquire for further details, teachers are encouraged to email


CBA teaching awards

Nominations open for CBA teaching awards

On Friday, 28 October, the Commonwealth Bank unveiled the results of its latest survey, which highlights the impact teachers have on their students’ lives.

For example, the survey found half of respondents said their career was inspired by a favourite teacher, while 65 per cent believed teachers had a significant impact on their development in general.

To further support the work of exemplary teachers, the Commonwealth Bank has partnered with Schools Plus – an education not-for-profit organisation – to launch the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards.

The awards will provide Fellowships valued at $45,000 to each of the 12 award recipients, comprising of $10,000 to be put toward each individual’s professional development, $5,000 for a 12-month secondment and study tour in Singapore as well as $30,000 to go fund a project that improves student performance and wellbeing.

Commonwealth Bank’s General Manager of Corporate Responsibility, Kylie Macfarlane said in a media release that supporting good teaching meant supporting students.

“With Australian kids spending hundreds of hours at school during their lifetime, it was no surprise that almost half (46 per cent) say a great teacher motivated them to succeed.

“But what we also found was that the majority (78 per cent) of Aussies say great teachers are shaping the future of our country, and as we believe teachers are one of our most valuable resources, we couldn’t agree more.”

The results of the Commonwealth Bank’s survey were conducted ahead of the awards’ launch, with respondents drawn from across Australia.

Other results of the survey:

  • 87% of respondents believes teachers can improve a student’s future
  • 27% credit their own success to a teacher
  • Most felt the greatest impact by teachers when in their final years, saying their favourite teachers taught them in Year 10 (31%), Year 11 (29%) or Year 12 (28%)

Chief Executive of Schools Plus, Rosemary Conn said the new awards initiative are “an excellent way for all Australians to recognise their most inspiring teachers”.

Nominations, which are open to teachers from all sectors of the Australian schools system (whether government, Catholic or independent), are open until 30 November this year.

For more information or to nominate, see the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards website.

Seminar room, Shutterstock

Geelong Grammar to host Alfie Kohn seminar

Prominent American author Alfie Kohn has written 14 books on parenting, education and human behaviour and for the first time he’s visiting Australia to share his thoughts with local educators.

In a one-day event held at Geelong Grammar School’s Corio Campus, Mr Kohn is expected to lead an insightful seminar on ‘Rethinking the conventional wisdom about curriculum, assessment, and motivation’, beginning at 9.30am, 15 November.

The event is ticketed, with a cost for the full day of $198. However, educators are also invited to attend Mr Kohn’s free parenting lecture, to be held on the same evening.

“Alfie Kohn is one of the world’s leading thinkers on developing well-rounded, resilient and critical thinking adolescents,” said Justin Robinson, Director of the Institute of Positive Education. “He is concerned by many of the trends and practices evident in the majority of school education systems.

“We assume he will challenge some of our current practices and he will certainly provide us with significant food for thought. We hope participants will be inspired to return to their schools with the aim of cultivating the best possible learning environment for their students.”

For tickets, or to find out more about this upcoming event, see Geelong Grammar School’s Training Courses page.


Screenshot from The Conversation.

Gender imbalance: Recruiting more male teachers

This week, Dr Kevin McGrath from Macquarie University’s Department of Educational Studies, published a treatise on the issues and challenges related to hiring more male primary teachers.

His article, titled ‘We need to rethink recruitment for men in primary schools’ and published in The Conversation, summarises the status quo (just 19 per cent of full-time primary educators are male), and goes on to make a case for the kind of positive discrimination that is becoming apparent in other sectors and industries.

Dr McGrath uses two examples of Australian universities advertising for women-only positions within STEM disciplines, which historically have very low rates of female participation.

While these job advertisements have drawn some criticism, it seems they are lawful. As the education academic states:

‘It appears that these universities are using the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act – state legislation – to bypass national sex discrimination legislation and target employment opportunities to women,’ he writes, while admitting this approach is unlikely to be taken up by schools anytime soon. (The reason he gives, interestingly, is that schools should continue to hire based on merit, rather than gender.)

The reasons Dr McGrath provides for why more men should be encouraged to become teachers hinges upon research that he describes as ‘social, not academic’, as well as an appeal to the principles of diversity in society being reflected in the workplace.

‘Education is not “women’s work”, but it sure seems that way if you’re seven years old,’ Dr McGrath writes.

The article concludes with three suggestions for improving male participation in primary schools, which are: setting realistic goals, providing worthwhile incentives and improving the status of the profession overall.

Bronwyn Johnstone, Principal of Capalaba State College in Queensland, told Education Matters that the article reinforces the fact that schools must reflect broader society, and that a healthy balance of genders of teachers has been shown to benefit students.

Ultimately, Ms. Johnstone says, a balanced workforce should not be prioritised above the quality of teachers overall.

“I believe that a balanced work force is highly desirable however, what is most important is that each class has an excellent teacher,” she said. “A teacher who cares about all children in the class and believes every child can learn.”

Overall, Dr McGrath’s thesis is initially compelling, yet with so much work yet to be done in promoting gender equality for female participation in traditionally male-dominated job categories, it’s hard to see whether there exists much appetite for also promoting the opposite.

What do you think about this topic? Education Matters would like to invite primary teachers and principles to have their say on the matter. Email the Editor at


Edval's timetabling experts enhance efficiency

Edval’s new Timetabler-in-Residence service provides a new model for school timetabling by pairing decision-makers with timetabling experts to deliver efficiency and long-term cost benefits, writes David Elliot-Jones. The Timetabler-in-Residence (TIR) service is available to existing Edval customers and schools who intend to use Edval software for their timetabling needs. Edval will initially consult with interested parties to design a package and a price that reflects the size and complexity of the adopting school. A dedicated TIR consultant will attend necessary meetings and work mostly offsite to construct the initial timetable and will be available throughout the year to maintain the timetable according to shifting needs. Edval consultants have a wealth of experience gained through working both in and with a wide variety of schools and are timetabling year round. As such, they are often able to see alternative solutions to tricky timetable situations. They also have an in-depth knowledge of the software itself – solutions can be modelled quickly and easily for a school with the result that the school will have a higher quality solution that benefits all: students, teachers and the budget. Schools also benefit from the ‘hive mind’ of the larger Edval team. Edval consultants use their combined experience to solve tricky problems, and should the dedicated consultant fall ill or be momentarily unavailable, other Edval consultants will step in. Why Outsourcing the Timetable is More Intuitive A good school timetable should balance factors such as student needs, teacher requirements and resource availability, without losing sight of school priorities. The problem is that each of these factors are subject to change – especially during peak timetabling times – and in-house timetablers don’t always have the flexibility to adjust. Typically, schools allocate the timetable duty to teachers or non-teaching support staff. There are pros and cons to each of these options. Teachers can relate to school dynamics, such as student wellbeing, teacher needs and educational outcomes to deliver a realistic (and hopefully balanced) timetable. But equally, their ‘on-the-ground’ status can limit their timetabling capacity. Tough timetabling decisions can be disrupted by friendship or loyalty, and teaching can often take priority at crucial times when extras hours are required to test and action changes in the timetable. On the other hand, support staff can deliver relatively unbiased outcomes and are better placed to focus on the timetable during peak periods, but significantly lack the on-the-ground ‘know-how’ of teachers. For each of these options timetabling training incurs a cost and there is always the risk of staff turn-around or reallocation. Edval’s Timetabler-in-Residence service streamlines the timetabling process. Key-decision makers, paired with an Edval consultant, can have changes tested and actioned promptly (usually within 24 to 48 hours). In addition to their timetabling expertise, Edval consultants understand schools (most have worked in them) and will take extra care to understand individual school needs. Converting timetabling to work completed by a service is also more economical, since more hours can be applied when needed, such as during peak timetabling periods. Moreover, the offsite nature of the service eliminates structural issues such as the approval-process, bias and limited contact hours. Christian Brothers College: Early Adopters of Edval’s Timetabler-In-Residence Program Christian Brothers College, an R-12 Catholic school based in Adelaide, decided to trial the Timetabler-in-Residence service after Edval helped construct a successful 2016 timetable at a late stage in Term 4 last year. For the 2017 school year, following the resignation of the regular school timetabler, Assistant Principal of Learning Dr Sean Mangan assumed the timetabling responsibility in a decision-making capacity, pairing with Adelaide-based Edval consultant Debra Allen. “Deb’s strength is that she can dedicate her whole time to [timetabling], whereas my time is often pulled in lots of different directions, and I might not get the concentrated time that she can put in,” Dr Mangan said. “To have someone purely focussed on the best possible timetable for a school is a real advantage. Deb largely works remotely, so I’ll email her things and ask her to do them for me, and then she’ll get back to me fairly promptly.” At the time of writing, Christian Brothers College are holding student re-counselling for subject choices. With Debra on-hand to log prospective changes in real-time, the process has been markedly swifter than the previous year. Drawing from her extensive timetabling experience, Debra is also able to foresee any problems that may emerge with proposed changes and offer a broader insight to help inform the timetabling direction. “We have fortnightly meetings with executives where she puts on the screen what the line structure’s looking like, how many students have enrolled in these classes and which classes therefore are viable and which are not. She’ll give us a briefing and then we’ll discuss whether to combine classes to ensure their viability,” Dr Mangan said. Dr Mangan regards the Timetabler-in-Residence service as an investment to help cut staffing costs in the long-term. Even though the college is only three months into its year-long trial, he says that Debra is “already demonstrating” such savings. “Staffing is always your biggest cost in a school. Not that you want to reduce staff, but at the end of the day you have to run effectively and that’s probably the biggest economical saving we’re going to make [with the Timetabler-in-Residence service],” Dr Mangan said. A timetabler himself, with over ten years’ experience in previous roles, Dr Mangan was initially sceptical about outsourcing the timetable. “ I thought ‘I don’t want someone else doing our timetable, they don’t know the school, they don’t know the ins-and-outs and the politics and the part time needs and the different needs that staff have’,” Dr Mangan said. “But Deb has really gotten into the skin of the school by coming as often as she can to meetings and we’ll walk around the school and we’ll look at which buildings are going to be for which year levels – so she’s not just blindly timetabling.” The biggest benefit for Dr Mangan, however, has been the overall quality of the timetable, which he sees as enhancing student and teacher satisfaction, and improving efficiency. “The timetable is the engine room, operationally, for a school. If a timetable is running well, then generally the students have the subjects that they want, teachers are generally in the right subjects as well.”]]>

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