Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students
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History Syllabus Needs Rethink – Abbott

Tony Abbott has urged a rethink of the national history curriculum, saying it underplays the heritage of Western civilisation, gives too much focus to trade unions and overlooks conservative prime ministers.

The Opposition Leader said while he would not dictate changes, the Coalition believed it was “possible to do better” and was entitled to say “maybe you ought to have a rethink”.

NAPLAN Scores Suffer

Prolific absenteeism is crippling the academic performance of thousands of school students and contributing to Australia’s slide down the international education rankings.

A major study of 415,000 school students conducted over five years to 2012, “Student Attendance and Educational Outcomes: Every Day Counts”, has linked increasing rates of absenteeism with declining scores in national literacy and numeracy tests.

The study conducted for the Federal Government by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Western Australia warns: “Parents need to be aware that when their child misses school it can have an ongoing impact on their learning.

“Even small amounts of unauthorised absence from school were associated with substantial falls in average Naplan (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) test scores.

Parents and educators are so concerned about the levels of school absenteeism they have called for a whole of community campaign to ensure children attend class on every day of term.

Schools have revealed they are not only grappling with hardened young truants – they are increasingly complaining that some parents encourage their children to skip class to go shopping, attend a birthday party or take an early holiday.

About 33,000 teenagers are absent from school every day in NSW, according to NSW Education Department data that shows attendance rates can be as low as 70 per cent.

President of the Australian Primary Principals’ Association Norm Hart said it was extremely important research.

“It is absolutely critical that we address this matter – kids are away from school too much and the community is too lenient and too forgiving,” he said.

“They (the Telethon Institute) have found a direct link between student absenteeism and Naplan scores.”

Abbott's School Plan Sham

The education union has launched an advertising blitz warning voters not to trust Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s ‘sham’ promise to match Labor when it comes to schools funding.

The Australian Education Union has placed the ads in major papers across the country, claiming voters have a ‘stark and important’ choice to make this election about the future of schools.

The ads claim an Abbott government would invest $2.8 billion in schools over four years to compared to Labor’s pledged $10 billion over six years.

After months of insisting the current funding model wasn’t broken, the coalition this month vowed to honour and match the school funding agreements entered into under Labor’s Better Schools plan.

Mr Abbott said as far as school fund was concerned, he and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd were ‘on a unity ticket’.

The AUE’s president Angelo Gavrielatos rubbished the claim, and warned parents not to be misled by Mr Abbott’s efforts to take education off the election agenda.

‘This is no unity ticket on schools funding,’ he said in a statement on Wednesday.

‘Overall, the Coalition plan for extra schools funding comes up $7 billion short.’

The union is particularly concerned by the coalition’s plan to cut short the six-year deals already signed by federal Labor and the NSW, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania and South Australian governments.

Meanwhile, the Australian Salary Packaging Industry Association has also run full-page ads against the Rudd government’s changes to the fringe benefits tax.

It says the changes mean the cost of living for thousands would increase and there’d be job losses in associated industries.

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Abbott’s School Plan Sham

The education union has launched an advertising blitz warning voters not to trust Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s ‘sham’ promise to match Labor when it comes to schools funding.

The Australian Education Union has placed the ads in major papers across the country, claiming voters have a ‘stark and important’ choice to make this election about the future of schools.

The ads claim an Abbott government would invest $2.8 billion in schools over four years to compared to Labor’s pledged $10 billion over six years.

After months of insisting the current funding model wasn’t broken, the coalition this month vowed to honour and match the school funding agreements entered into under Labor’s Better Schools plan.

Mr Abbott said as far as school fund was concerned, he and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd were ‘on a unity ticket’.

The AUE’s president Angelo Gavrielatos rubbished the claim, and warned parents not to be misled by Mr Abbott’s efforts to take education off the election agenda.

‘This is no unity ticket on schools funding,’ he said in a statement on Wednesday.

‘Overall, the Coalition plan for extra schools funding comes up $7 billion short.’

The union is particularly concerned by the coalition’s plan to cut short the six-year deals already signed by federal Labor and the NSW, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania and South Australian governments.

Meanwhile, the Australian Salary Packaging Industry Association has also run full-page ads against the Rudd government’s changes to the fringe benefits tax.

It says the changes mean the cost of living for thousands would increase and there’d be job losses in associated industries.

Australia Costly For Foreign Students

Australia has topped the US and Britain as the most expensive country in the world for foreign students, an international report has found.

But the falling currency and improved visa processes could soon see a resurgence in numbers.

The report comes amid concern among education groups that Australia is losing its competitive edge in attracting international students. They want the next government to review Australia’s visa system and ”aggressively promote” Australian education overseas.

The average cost of university fees and living expenses in Australia was $US38,000 ($41,700) a year for international students, HSBC research found. In the US, costs were $US35,000 a year while students in Britain paid $US30,000.

The total number of international students enrolled in Australia has fallen almost 20 per cent since the peak of 472,214 in 2010, data from federal government agency Australian Education International showed.

”While Australia has continued to enjoy higher economic growth than other Western markets over the past five years, this has also led to a higher Australian dollar, which has placed a strain on the price competitiveness of our export sectors, including education,” HSBC’s head of retail banking and wealth management in Australia Graham Heunis said.

International Education Association of Australia executive director Phil Honeywood said Australia had one of the ”most expensive, slow and inflexible” visa systems in the world. International education returned $15 billion a year to the economy and employed more than 100,000 people, he said.

But the sector lacked a ”strong government champion” and support offered to other industries, including tourism, mining and manufacturing.

The education groups, which include representatives from the TAFE and private sectors, said public and private education providers were burdened with a ”multitude of costs associated with regulation”.

The Council of International Students Australia’s immediate past president, Aleem Nizari, said working visas for foreign students who had finished their degrees remained a pressing issue. He said many employers were also confused about the post-study work visa. The lack of clarity made it difficult for graduates to gain work experience before returning home. 

UniSA On Path To Learning Excellence

EMPLOYING 100 extra professors, creating a birth to year 12 school and introducing three more regional campuses are a part of an ambitious new, five-year action plan for the state’s biggest university.

University of South Australia Vice-chancellor, Professor David Lloyd, said the new plan – which sought input from 8000 current and past students, staff and the business community online – was “ambitious but achievable”.

The revolutionary plan aims to make the institution Australia’s “university of enterprise” which would position it among the nation’s best.

The five-year blueprint, titled Crossing the Horizon, was officially approved yesterday and also includes plans to build three new regional campuses at yet to be revealed locations, new UniSA-branded accommodation sites and a new sports and cultural complex which would include a gym, pool and theatre which would be open to the public and known as the “Great Hall”.

It also plans to increase its international student cohort up from 24 per cent currently to 30 per cent in 2018 and expand its presence overseas, particularly in China.

The new plan also seeks to appoint more industry and professional leaders on its expert advisory boards, and create competitive internship or work experience opportunities for all students.