Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students

High school students demonstrate passion towards gaining real work experience




A recently-held online competition has demonstrated that Victorian high school students are passionate about gaining access to work experience in order to take charge of their own career path.

Victoria University’s Work Experience of a Lifetime competition – open to Year 10 and 11 students across the state – saw creative entries from students vying to win a high-profile work placement and mentoring opportunity with some of Australia’s top companies, including Mushroom Group, Leo Burnett, Nova FM and Honda.

Launched in partnership with agency Leo Burnett Melbourne the initiative aimed to help open doors for high school students who often struggle to identify their career passion and gain meaningful work experience.

Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University, Professor Peter Dawkins, said that school students should have the same opportunities as university students when it came to work experience.

“The opportunities presented through this competition gives students invaluable insight into what it’s like to work in some of the most exciting local industries and then make an informed decision about what they want to study or do after school,” Dawkins said. “Most Year 10 and 11 students try to secure two weeks of work experience each year which means that, in any given year, there may be more than 60,000 kids undertaking in excess of 4 million hours of work experience.

“We believe it’s important to help ensure that every hour of this is well-spent and that participants get the real world experience they need to succeed in their future professional lives.”

One of the competition winners, Mike Schumann from Camberwell Grammar School, undertook a week-long placement in July at Honda to work in the marketing field. He said the experience has furthered his interest in pursuing a marketing career and also helped him understand what he would and wouldn’t enjoy about being a marketing professional.

“Work experience was fantastic, because not only did it give me the opportunity to work with those directly involved in marketing, but it gave me a chance to see the tasks which they do on a weekly basis and the work that is involved,” Schumann said. “As a result of work experience, I acquired a great understanding of the work ethic, but more importantly, the type of personality required in marketing to be able to negotiate with a range of people.

“I learned that in marketing you have to be able to work as a team, listen to each other, and be open to creative, fresh ideas.”

Professor Dawkins said the quality and quantity of competition entries received demonstrated that Victorian high school students are passionate about gaining access to real world experience and to help support this determination Victoria University will be looking to make the Work Experience of a Lifetime competition an annual offering.

Visual excellence and peace of mind



The new Hitachi Ultra Short Throw LCD Projectors are here, featuring class-leading performance and visual excellence thanks to a host of all-new features. What’s more, it comes with a class-leading three years’ on-site warranty*.

The new projectors have the capability to provide vivid, eye-popping images in bright classrooms and meeting rooms, bringing greater impact and better class engagement.

Because Hitachi’s image processing technology enhances high-definition video and graphics, beautiful and stimulating images can be presented with their impact intact, without losing the colour information of the original image. Projecting high-definition in rooms of all types from small classrooms and meeting spaces to lecture halls and large meeting rooms.

Bright rooms are no longer a problem

Bright rooms present no problem to image quality. When average projectors are used in bright rooms, the darker colours of an image deteriorate and images become unclear. But with Hitachi’s HIGH DYNAMIC CONTRAST RANGE (HDCR) feature, blurred images caused by ambient room lighting or outside light sources are corrected and an effect similar to increasing contrast occurs. The result is clear images even in bright rooms!

The ACCENTUALIZER feature makes images look more real by enhancing (1) Shade, (2) Sharpness and (3) Gloss, to make pictures as clear as images on a flat panel device. The effects of the three levels can be adjusted according to your surroundings so that the colours of the projected images match the true colours of the objects they represent.

Easy to use in any location

• Front use

In multifunction spaces, meeting rooms and other places where wall or ceiling mounting isn’t practical you can place the projector on a desk or on the floor to quickly and easily project an image of 60 to 80 (2m) inches.

• Wall mount use

The wall mount unit (HAS-WN03X) option ensures that the projector can be installed in exactly the right position. The entire unit slides horizontally, and fine adjustments can be made to each axis independently.

• Tabletop use

The optional tabletop use kit (TT-03) option allows the projector to be used vertically. You can project a 1.5m (60”) image down onto a table.

Ultra Short Throw, for ultra-close performance

The projectors feature Ultra Short Throw, for projecting a 2m (80 inches) image from a very close 51.7cm (20.4inches), onto a wall or screen. A very economical use of classroom space.

Reduced glare and shadows, for a better experience

Ultra Short Throw greatly reduces glare from the projector’s light source, making it easier for the teacher to see the class. The class also has a clearer view because the shadows from the teacher’s hands and body are minimised. The result is a better classroom experience for everyone!

Powered Focus and Perfect Fit

POWERED FOCUS and PERFECT FIT features let you adjust the four corners and four sides of the projected image quickly and easily, using the hand held remote control.

2 HDMI input

The projectors are equipped with two terminals for the widely used interface.

16W internal speaker

A speaker and microphone terminal allow you to make comfortably make presentations using content with sound, or using a microphone.

Versatile and adaptable networking features

Wireless capability is an option

Connect to a computer using the optional USB wireless adaptor.

Easy WLAN connection

Searches available wireless networks and displays the list of SSIDs when used in Infrastructure mode. You just select an ISDD connection from the list.

Convenient networking

Manage and control multiple projectors over your LAN with Centralised Reporting, Scheduling, Email Alerts, and My Image (Image Transfer).

Smart device control

Plugging the USB wireless adapter to the projector and using the dedicated free online application developed by Hitachi lets projectors be controlled from a tablet or smartphone.

Moderator control mode

Setting one computer from the multiple computers (up to 50) that are connected to the projector as the moderator (host), make it possible for the moderator to project from all the computers.

ECO features that save energy

Saver mode

• Reduces projector lamp brightness and energy consumption on static pictures.

• Can darken the screen temporarily, so a teacher can gain the attention of the class while they speak.

Intelligent ECO mode

Changes the brightness of the lamp according to the brightness of the image. When a darker image is projected, less energy is used, eliminating unnecessary energy consumption.

The A-Series Ultra Short Throw range. A projector for every class and every application.






Give your students the best learning experience – insist on Hitachi Ultra Short Throw projectors!


Enhancing children’s wellbeing


Good mental health is essential for learning and life. Growing evidence shows that children who are mentally healthy are better able to meet life’s challenges, are better learners, and have stronger relationships.

The good news is that most Australian children experience good mental health. Schools, parents and families can also take concrete, positive steps to help enhance children’s mental health, wellbeing and learning outcomes.

KidsMatter Primary is a national initiative for primary schools that focuses on building and sustaining children’s mental health and wellbeing. It is widely implemented across Australia, with more than 2000 schools currently part of the KidsMatter network.

“When we focus on the wellbeing of our kids we see great results not only in student behaviour, but also in their ability to learn at school,” says Jeremy Hurley, KidsMatter Primary National Director.

KidsMatter is a whole-school framework that can be adapted to local contexts and is shaped by principals, teachers and wider school communities.

“We focus on what we call a whole-school approach. If you set the foundations right in primary school, kids carry that with them into secondary school and throughout their lives,” Hurley says.

“If we teach kids the right foundation blocks – like how to be resilient, self-aware and empathetic – we set them up for life.”

KidsMatter covers four areas where primary schools can improve children’s health, and minimise risk factors. These four areas make up the training available through KidsMatter:

  1. Building a positive school community
  2. Social and emotional learning for students
  3. Working with parents and carers
  4. Helping children with mental health difficulties.

The professional learning in schools is spread across two to three years. During this time, KidsMatter provides a range of evidence-based strategies, resources and support to suit different schools’ needs.

KidsMatter Primary is a collaborative initiative between beyondblue, the Australian Psychological Society and Principals Australia Institute, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and beyondblue.

Learn more about KidsMatter

If your school would like to find out more, start or continue its KidsMatter journey, events are held regularly throughout Australia.

Visit for more information.

Senate inquiry backs six years of Gonski funding

Prime Minister Tony Abbott must heed the recommendations of a Senate inquiry into schools funding which has backed the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding, the Australian Education Union (AEU) said.

AEU Deputy Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the findings of the inquiry reflected the views of thousands of teachers, students and principals who had made submissions calling for the Gonski funding to be delivered in full.

“The inquiry has made it clear that the Coalition’s plan to abandon Gonski will have a detrimental impact on students across Australia,” she said.

“As the inquiry’s report states: ‘Unless governments and schools can make long-term decisions and target those groups of students most in need, the gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged in the Australian school system will increase.’”

“There needs to be a long term commitment to Gonski and the six years of funding needed to ensure every school has the resources to educate every student to a high level.

“The inquiry found what we have now under the Abbott Government is a mess: no commitment to the six years of funding or to work cooperatively with the states and territories, the abandonment of the Gonski model after four years and real cuts in funding every year after that totalling $30 billion over a decade.

“The Senate inquiry’s report said the Gonski Review and the needs-based funding it recommended was a “fundamental benchmark in the history of school funding in Australia” which demonstrated the link between education outcomes and investment in the school sector.

“The inquiry also called for a lift to funding for students with disability, and greater transparency in how schools funding is spent.

“Growing international evidence shows the importance of equity in achieving excellence across a system, yet Australia seems to be moving further away from this as the Abbott Government abandons Gonski agreements with the States,” Haythorpe said.

“The inquiry has also called on the Abbott Government to keep its abandoned promise to institute a ‘disability loading’ that recognises the true cost of educating students with disability from 2015, citing the urgent need among students with disability.

“Up to 100,000 children with disability may be missing out due to a lack of funding, and the Abbott Government has failed to honour its 2013 election promise to replace the temporary loading with a needs-based one,” Haythorpe said.

“This broken promise is causing ongoing pain to thousands of children with disability who are being denied the chance of a decent education.”

“The AEU supports the recommendation that the Commonwealth work to ensure state and territory governments that did not sign up to Gonski contribute towards the cost of getting all schools to a national resourcing standard.

“We also support the call for greater transparency about where school funding dollars go and are concerned that the Abbott Government is working to reduce accountability by changing the Australian Education Act,” Haythorpe said.

“Some state governments are clearly pocketing the Gonski funding and kids are missing out as a result.

“The Abbott Government must listen to the Senate, and the thousands of principals, parents, teachers and community members who have contributed to this inquiry, and commit to the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding.”

The importance of ongoing teacher learning

Those of us who work in providing opportunities for professional learning for teachers recognise the complexity involved in juggling the time and resources needed to meet systemic and contextual priorities. This is important work. International studies, such as those conducted by the OECD (2005; 2006; 2009a, b, c; 2013) consistently point to the role of ongoing teacher learning at all career stages in improving student learning outcomes. The significance of ongoing professional learning is highlighted in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]). These national standards articulate a shared understanding of what it means to be a quality teacher at different levels of experience and describe what teachers should know and do at different career stages. Standard Six, engage in professional learning, is specifically focused on the kinds of learning teachers are expected to engage in and demonstrate. The diversity of possible professional learning experiences is provided in the rich array of examples accompanying the standard six descriptors, ranging from formal professional learning experiences to individual reflective practice. Additional focus on the importance of professional learning is provided in AITSL’s Australian Charter for the Professional Learning for Teachers and School Leadership which states that “…effective professional learning is undertaken in supportive and collaborative school environments and most effective when it is relevant, collaborative and future focused”. The importance of access to professional learning is universally recognised but the challenge for teachers and school leaders is how best to engage in it. Issues typically include: balancing systemic and individual needs; navigating competing demands on teachers’ time; finite financial resources; teacher turnover; the availability of appropriate mentoring and support; even geography. The situation in many rural and regional contexts in Australia, for example, often means that simply accessing appropriate expertise or teaching relief to have time to participate in formal professional learning is a major difficulty.

So, how might we look at this differently?

Fullan (n. p.nos) argues that, as a profession, we need to radically rethink the notion of professional development proposing “…professional development as a term and as a strategy has run its course” and that the profession now needs a major shift in how teacher learning is both conceptualised and enacted. He emphasises that teacher professional learning (the term also used by AITSL) is a more appropriate term for several reasons. First, improvement in teacher capacity which impacts positively on student outcomes involves “learning to do the right things in the setting where you work” (Elmore, 2004, p. emphasis added). This is a critically important concept when we look at learner and school diversity across Australia. One size clearly cannot suit all. Second, Fullan argues, improvements in student learning depend on each and every teacher learning all the time: not just in defined workshop settings, or during concentrated periods of time away from the classroom. An effective teacher needs to be a reflective practitioner, a proficient researcher, an expert data analyst each and every day. However, for teachers to engage in deep, sustained professional learning experiences of this kind, they need mechanisms to de-privatise their practice and opportunities for sustained collaboration within the contexts of their everyday work. This is difficult to achieve as, even with the most willing of teachers, the way their work is structured militates against such practices. Elmore (2004) captures the dilemma nicely:

…there is almost no opportunity for teachers to engage in continuous and sustained learning about their practice in the settings in which they actually work, observing and being observed by their colleagues in their own classrooms and classrooms of other teachers in other schools confronting similar problems (p. 127).

The potential of collaborative peer review

International research into how to develop quality teachers reinforces Elmore’s comments and indicates that an alarming number of teachers receive little feedback or appraisal from peers or supervisors. Consequently, they may be less likely than others to engage in focused professional learning and continuously improve their practice (OECD, 2009a, p.9). These statistics are disheartening but also serve as a mandate to address the “radical rethink” in professional learning that Fullan (2007) argues is so desperately needed. Collaboration is a cornerstone of this reconceptualisation. Literature consistently points to the importance of collaboration in teacher and school improvement (Hargreaves & Fullan; Hattie, 2012). Collaborative peer review is one way in which this fundamental shift can be effected with multiple benefits both professional and practical.

From a professional perspective, collaborative peer review recognises and builds teachers’ “professional capital” (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012) which can so easily be eroded in a climate of performativity. It encourages teachers to work collectively. Connell (2009) argues that much of what happens in the daily life of a school involves the joint labour of the staff, and the staff’s collective relationship to the collective presence of the students:

…much of the learning that school pupils do results from the shared efforts of a group of staff, from interactive learning processes among the students, and (as the idea of the ‘hidden curriculum’ indicates) from the working of the institution around them (pp. 221-222).

Collaborative peer review also encourages and enables de-privatisation of practice. It sees teachers as leaders of their own learning rather than as compliant and disenfranchised subjects of systemic imperatives. And, in simple practical terms, it is sustainable and resource effective.


What is collaborative peer review?

Collaborative peer review is when a group of teachers collectively investigate and critique an aspect of teaching and learning that is of shared interest/importance in order to improve it. It shares elements of a participatory action research approach. Members of a collaborative peer review team may include combinations of less and more experienced teachers, managers and external experts. It can be used as part of an appraisal process, but its main purpose is to foster teacher learning which contributes to improved student learning outcomes. Three important principles underpin this type of peer review:

1.    The review must address an identified strategic priority at the school level;

2.    The artefacts of the review (e.g. comments from any classroom observations and peer feedback) are confidential to the reviewer/reviewee(s); and,

3.    There is an expectation that the teachers involved will make visible to colleagues and supervisors how their practice has been enhanced through the process of the review.

An example is provided below:

Example – Duration one school term

Scenario: A team of Early Childhood Teachers comprising a combination of very experienced and new teachers, a pre-service teacher on practicum and the school principal in a regional primary school, analyse their Grade 3 NAPLAN data and notice a disparity in the achievement of boys and girls in writing.


·         Members of the team analyse each other’s individual class data and discuss and critique different writing strategies used by teachers in the team and evaluate them against good practice literature and school data.

·         In the course of these discussions, a common theme is boys’ apparent self-perception as writers and how their parents perceive them as writers. Team members investigate current literature about good practice in developing boys’ literacy skills. As the school is a regional school, they arrange a Skype meeting with an expert adviser to discuss their concerns.

·         The team devises a simple survey instrument to use with students in their classes relating to students’ perceptions of themselves as writers. They implement the survey and collaboratively analyse the results.

·         The data is shared with the principal and the expert adviser.

·         A series of interventions is developed and implemented.

·         During the implementation period, teachers reflect on the efficacy of the intervention and collect data (boys’ writing samples and other writing assessment). Teachers share their ideas with members of the peer review team and observe each other’s work either in ‘real’ time or in the form of video clips of their lessons.

·         Teachers identify the strengths and areas for further improvement in their own and peers’ practice.

·         Student achievement data is collaboratively analysed at the end of the term. The simple survey is conducted again and data analysed.

·         The video clips that the team decide provide evidence of practice that improves student outcomes are shared with colleagues across the school and the team writes an easy-to-use resource for teachers to guide good practice in boys’ literacy. The team also provide a simple guide sheet of activities parents could use to support boys’ writing.


The AITSL Charter for Professional Learning states that teacher learning is most effective when it is relevant, collaborative and future focused. The sense of agency and mutual support experienced where teachers research and critique their own practice collectively and means that they are much more likely to commit to that learning and consequently their learning will have a much better impact on student outcomes. Such an approach helps to re-culture and de-privatise teachers’ practice and build a learning community. It promotes self-evaluation and has great value in promoting teacher self-efficacy. It also provides a practical and resource-effective way to tackle the complex issue of engaging in quality professional learning in context.

Dr Pauline Taylor is a Senior Lecturer at James Cook University. She joined JCU in 2006 after a long career in teaching and education administration in the UK, Africa and Australia. A winner of an ALTC award for outstanding contribution to student learning in 2008, and recipient of the ATEA Early Career Researcher Award in the same year, her research and teaching interests focus on access and equity, language and literacy and educational policy implementation. She has a particular interest in the First Year Experience at university and is leader of the JCU Academy of teaching and learning interest group in the First Year Experience. A passionate educator and advocate for the profession, she has been the elected secretary of the Australian Teacher Education Association since 2010. ATEA is the major professional association for teacher educators in Australia. The mission of the Australian Teacher Education Association is to promote:

  • The preservice and continuing education of teachers in all forms and contexts;
  • The teacher education as central in the educational enterprise of the nation; and,
  • Research on teacher education as a core endeavour.

 The Association enacts this mission through several key strategies, namely:

·         To foster improvement in initial teacher education;

·         To promote and support the teaching profession;

·         To form strong links with the individuals and organisations involved in educational change;

·         To improve the nature, quality and availability of professional development for teacher educators; and,

·         To promote and disseminate research, ideas and practices, innovation and evaluation in teacher education.

Please visit for more information.


Australian Institute for School Teaching and Leadership. Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Downloaded from

Australian Institute for School Teaching and Leadership. Charter for Professional Learning. Downloaded from

Connell, R. (2009). Good teachers on dangerous ground: towards a new view of teacher

quality and professionalism. Critical Studies in Education, 50, (3) pp. 213–229. Routledge.

Elmore, R. (2004). School reform from the inside out. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Fullan, M. (2007).  Professional Development is not Professional Learning. Downloaded from

Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. ( 2012). Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. Hawker Brownlow, Moorabbin, Vic.

Hattie, J . (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers. British Journal of Educational Technology. 43 (4), pp.E134-E136.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (n.d.) Title. Downloaded from

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2005), Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers. OECD publishing, Paris.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2006). The Teaching Workforce:     Meeting Aspirations and Enhancing Motivation, in Education Policy Analysis 2005. OECD publishing, Paris.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2009a). Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First Results from TALIS. OECD publishing, Paris. 10.12787/9789264072992-en

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2009b).Teacher evaluation: a conceptual framework. Downloaded

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2009c). Review on Evaluation and Assessment for Improving School Outcomes: Design and Implementation Plan for the Review. OECD publishing, Paris.

Asking the smart questions

When it comes to choosing a before and after school care provider for schools, some people are struggling to know exactly what to ask for. While it is true that there are no dumb questions, there are certainly some smarter ways to ask them. Outlined below are the five smart ways to ask the best questions to help you get the best outside school hours care for your school community.

Before we get to the specific questions, it is worth reflecting on what you are trying to achieve with the selection process. Fundamentally everyone wants the right balance between quality and affordability as well as finding a good fit with their other requirements. The challenge is to ask questions that will give you the responses you need to make the right choice for your school. To do this you need to ask five different types of questions:

1.    Requirements checklist

2.    Financials

3.    Descriptive

4.    Responsive

5.    Open ended

Each of these has a role to play in getting you the information you need in a way that can help you to make the right decision without the need to wade through nearly 200 pages of response. The first step in this process is to go through all of the things that you want to know about the suppliers and then determine which of the following question types is best suited to getting you the answer you need.

1.    Requirements checklist

This type of question should give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. You can also provide an option for comment. If you do this, set a word limit to save you from getting an essay/sales pitch with each answer. This can be used to cover big questions like, “Are all of your services NQF compliant?” through to some more of the more unusual questions such as, “Will you feed the school’s chickens during the school holidays?”

Remember that just because you use the checklist format does not mean that each of the questions carry the same weighting in your scoring rubric. Important questions can still carry more weight; you just don’t have to read a lot of words to find out if the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

2.    Financial questions

Outside school hours care is unusual when it comes to finances as it has multiple parties involved. Parents are charged a fee by the provider, however this fee is substantially subsidised by government rebates. The provider also pays the school for use of the facilities and in many cases additional contributions to the school. Subsequently there will be a trade-off between fees charged to parents and the financial contribution to the school. In asking the financial questions, it is important to indicate which of these will be the higher priority.

It is also important to get a full outline of all of the fees and charges involved and how they will be applied. Also if there are calculations or variables involved in the contribution back to the school, it is worthwhile outlining some attendance scenarios so that you can readily compare like with like.

3.    Descriptive questions

The intent of the descriptive question is to obtain an insight into the nature of the organisation you are going to be dealing with. It is important that these questions enable the organisation to express their expertise and personality as this will provide you with greater insight.

Used well the descriptive question can be gold. Where many people go wrong is by trying to get it to do the job of a requirements checklist question as well as eliciting some more information. Keep the two separate. The requirements checklist question should be able to establish compliance, competence and the like. The descriptive question enables you to get a sense of the experience. Some examples of this are:

·         Please describe the experience a grade one would have at their first session of after school care.

·         Please outline the range of activities and resources that will be available to children attending the service.

4.    Responsive questions

These questions are scenario-based questions which provide an insight into how well equipped the organisation is to deal with various issues that may occur from time to time.

·         Please describe how a parent could raise a concern or complaint and how this would be managed and resolved.

·         What will you do if parents or the school have concerns around a particular staff member of the organisation?

·         When assessing these questions it is worth looking for use of policy and procedure and other indicators of what they have prepared for this and other possible issues that may arise.

5.    Open-ended questions

The open-ended question is designed to give the provider an opportunity to tell you about things you may not have thought about. These are ideal for getting an overview of the organisation, the service offered, and other aspects of OSHC that they may know more about than you.

About the author

Romney is a qualified and experienced primary school teacher who has worked in the OSHC industry at Australia’s leading OSHC provider Camp Australia for over five years.

If you would like any assistance with putting a list of smart questions please contact Romney directly at