Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students

Feeding minds to grow knowledge


The latest teaching resource from the not-for-profit Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is a valuable curriculum tool for all schools with a kitchen garden.

The fifth set of books in the Kitchen Garden Foundation’s Tools for Teachers curriculum resource series provides lesson and activity plans linked to Learning Areas and Strands of the Australian Curriculum.

Foundation Curriculum Officer Bev Laing, author of the Tools for Teachers series, said Tools for Teachers 5 activities were designed to combine hands-on learning with skills and knowledge development.

“Students take what they have done in the kitchen or garden, such as transplanting seedlings, then we build on their experience to understand how plant root systems work, the needs of plants and why we are careful to keep the roots hydrated and handle them gently,” Bev said.

One of the units in the books, ‘Farms and Market Gardens’, was written in collaboration with the National Museum of Australia.

The unit is based on historical sources – including images and video from the museum – to unlock learning about history, geography, technologies and mathematics.

“We explore how the size of farms has changed in Australia, and how this relates to changes in technology, agricultural economy and land use,” Bev said.

“We compare farms in the past to farms of today, and look to the future in terms of urban agriculture and food security.

“Students undertake food mapping activities and explore how the energy source on a farm relates to farm size.”

A unit for younger students, titled ‘Shape Makers’, helps students learn geometry through folded and cut shapes of food.

“There are samosas for equilateral triangles and we do pastry cutting to explore circles, crescents and aggregated shapes,” Bev said.

‘You Are What You Eat’, a unit which looks at food identities and food cultures, provides curriculum links to health and a chance for students to discuss what their families eat.

It encourages acceptance of diversity, as well as self-knowledge and includes activities on being a good guest and a good host.

In the ‘Heat and Energy’ unit students can design compost-heated greenhouses or explore heat maps of cities.

They explore the science of cooking as they learn how heat transfers from one object to another through convection, conduction or radiation.

Students can also make rhythms come alive in kitchens and gardens by sampling sounds and motion in kitchens and gardens with the ‘Rhythm Loop’ unit.

The two volumes of Tools for Teachers 5 – one for Years 3&4 and the other for Years 5&6 –will be released in early 2015.

The books can be pre-ordered on the Foundation’s website before 31 December 2014 at a special 25% discount price of $29.99.

Pre-orders will be delivered in February 2015 and will include a free copy of the ‘Real Kids, Real Food’ with Stephanie Alexander DVD (while stock lasts).

Visit our website for more information about curriculum resources and how schools with a primary curriculum can join the Kitchen Garden National Program.

Initial Teacher Education: Data Report 2014


To maximise the impact of teaching upon student learning, we need to have more teachers in the profession who are able to teach like the best, writes Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) General Manager, Edmund Misson. Achieving this boost in professional capability will require an increasing emphasis on the education of Australia’s future teachers.

Read more

AEU urges Victorians to put education first


In the weeks leading up to the 2014 Victorian election, the Australian Education Union (AEU) will ramp up its ‘Put Education 1st’ campaign, urging Victorians to vote for public education.

AEU Victorian branch President Meredith Peace said it will distribute material to members that outline the education policies of the major parties to help them make a judgement so their vote can boost the state’s education sector.

Speaking with Education Matters, Peace said it’s not surprising education has become a key election issue as students, parents, teachers and the broader community increasingly understand the importance of a good education.

“We’ve worked really hard, not only to talk to our members, but to get out there and talk to the community about some of the critical issues affecting public education in this state,” she said. “We believe the current Coalition government has failed public education in terms of what they have done over the last four years.

“Parents understand how important education is to their children’s future and they’re keen for their children to get every opportunity for a good quality education that is properly resourced by government.”

Peace sighted school resourcing the most critical issue facing Victoria’s education sector, adding that schools need the capacity to run a breadth of curriculum to give students a range of pathways in their schooling.

“In the school sector Victorian students are funded $1881 below the national average, so that’s puts us behind a lot of the other states and territories,” she said. “To make that figure more realistic, in a school of 500 students that is the equivalent of nine full-time teachers – that sort of resource would make a huge difference to what schools are able to provide.

“Better resourcing also means being able to provide proper literacy and numeracy support for children that have learning difficulties or who are falling behind, and at the secondary level it could mean a more comprehensive VCE curriculum.”

The AEU is also calling for greater investment in teacher professional development and principal support, along with greater investment in school infrastructure and building projects to make up for the Coalition government’s cuts over the past four years.

“There’s been a lot said about the importance of teacher quality in delivering better outcomes for students, but government has actually failed to invest in the most important resource in that equation and that is the staff in our schools,” she said. “You talk to just about any principal and they talk about how isolated they feel, that there is a lack of support from their employer, and that they have difficulty getting support when needed. I would say that many of our principals felt abandoned.

“We’ve also had a long problem in Victoria over many decades of there not being enough investment in school infrastructure and are now in a situation where we’ve got massive growth of student numbers in certain parts of Melbourne and we don’t have the schools for them.”

Last week Labor leader Daniel Andrews announced the building of 11 new schools across Victoria, after earlier kicking off his election campaign by promising a $1.3 billion boost to Victoria’s education sector.

Peace welcomes Labor’s education boost as a good start but says it doesn’t resolve all issues.

The Victorian election will be held on Saturday 29th November.

AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos resigns

Angelo Gavrielatos_web

Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president Anglelo Gavrielatos has resigned after serving seven years in the position.

Gavrielatos will be taking up a position with the international union, Education International. He will coordinate EI’s Global Response to Education Corporations, aimed at halting and reversing the commercialisation and privatisation of education.

“The continuing push for the commodification, marketisation, commercialisation, and ultimately, the privatisation of education, is the greatest threat to high quality education for all,” he said in a statement.

“We are already seeing the effects of this agenda with the break-up of traditional school systems such as the growth in Charter Schools in the US, the Free Schools in Sweden, Academies in the UK, more recently Partnership Schools in New Zealand, and of course the Australian Government’s IPS agenda. Worse still, we are seeing the emergence and spread of government-funded, corporation-owned for-profit schools.”

Gavrielatos will vacate the position of AEU federal president on January 31, 2015.

Andrews: We’ll make Victoria the Education State

Daniel Andrews

With one month until the Victorian state election both parties have been hot on the campaign trail attempting to entice voters with education reforms.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews announced this week the Victorian Labor Government will reintroduce Tech Schools and boost the state’s TAFE system with a $320 million cash injection.

Labor’s ‘TAFE Rescue Fund’ will reopen closed campuses, bailout institutes at risk of financial ruin, and upgrade TAFE buildings across the state, with the proposed funds flowing as an emergency measure as early as day one of government.

“Our TAFE Rescue Fund will re-open campuses that closed, bail out campuses in strife, and upgrade labs, workshops, buildings and classrooms across our state,” Andrews said at Labor’s campaign launch. “We’ll make sure the system survives next year – but we also want to make sure it survives the next decade.”

Andrews said a Victorian Labor Government will also invest $125 million to establish 10 regional Tech Schools across the state that will focus on local industries and be open for students in Years 7 to 12.

“Students who enrol in the regional Tech will also stay enrolled in the local secondary school,” he said. “They’ll spend a set period of time every month getting their technical education alongside their secondary studies – not in place of a comprehensive education, but as part of it.”

Meanwhile Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said a re-elected Coalition would ­provide $3750 to each of the state’s 391 public secondary schools to buy 3D printers.