The South Australian Education Department has told school principals that teachers are to place a greater focus on teaching numeracy to lift mathematics skills, in line with their reading and writing ability. The department spokesperson, Gary Costello, has told principals that student results are not currently up to scratch and mathematical skills need improving most. Read more
The Federal Government has said that more money and resources will be spent to give food and agriculture a more prominent place in Australian Primary & Secondary schools.
The parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Sid Sidebottom has announced $1.5 million of Commonwealth funds to improve the awareness of food production and employment opportunities in the agriculture sector.
Fourteen academics from NSW leading universities have written to the O’Farrell Government to appeal against plans to abolish dedicated funding for teachers of English as a second language.
The letter to Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, says funding for ESL teachers will be distributed to schools as “untied and untagged” funding. Under the existing scheme the funding aims to provide 1600 specialist ESL Teachers in 896 teaching and consultancy positions. These teachers support 130,000 migrant and refugee children.
The First National Curriculum document outlining how Agoriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages can be taught in schools has been released for public consumption.
Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett said the draft Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages would supports community language revival and maintenance.
Under the framework there will be three different learning pathways to best cater for particular groups of students including the First Language Learner Pathway, which will cater for students whose first language is still spoken as the main or one of the main languages of everyday communication.
‘Keeping language alive in our community is really important, but until now there has been no national approach’ Mr Garrett said. ‘Under the new national curriculum we want to see a more consistent approach while still making the curriculum flexible and able to take into account local needs and circumstances’.
He said there were more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken in Australia. ‘This draft framework sets out how teachers and schools can work with local communities to keep language alive and encourage more young Indigenous Australians to learn and communicate in language,’ he said.
More than 1 million students are currently sitting down to complete the NAPLAN test and one principal has come out with a message for parents. Mr Paul Marshall, principal at Emmaus Christian School in Canberra, has told parents they could withdraw their children from the exams. The principal stated on the school’s website, ‘I have several issues with the NAPLAN testing regime’. ‘One of them is that the results take so long to get back to us, so long that they do not benefir the teachers or students’. On average it takes six months for NAPLAN results to get back to schools. Mr Marshall had further advice for parents, stating that ‘the decision to allow your children to sit the NAPLAN tests rest with you’.
National rates of withdrawal from the NAPLAN tests have grown since it was first introduced in 2008, with the withdrawal rate for year 3 mathematics, for example, growing from 0.5% in 2008 to 1.9% in 2012. Another issue currently facing NAPLAN is that parents seem to view the tests as an assessment of the school’s performance, with Mr Marshall stating that this was ‘akin to judging the quality of a hospital on a snap check of the health of its patients’
Despite this a spokesperson for the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Austhority (ACARA) which runs the tests, said that participation rates remained high and it expected ‘all students to sit NAPLAN’.