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School starting age lower

Tasmanian Government releases school starting age 'fact sheet'

Anne Barwick told The Mercury that the proposed change has “the potential to impact children negatively”. “A high percentage of Tasmanian children access kindergarten – a non-compulsory year – and this change equates to children as young as three years, six months being integrated into a school environment,” she said. Further concerns have been raised by the union for childcare workers, the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations, Rural Health Tasmania and the state Opposition, causing the Government to respond with a new fact sheet on the initiative. Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced the fact sheet, saying it aims to dispel concerns raised by detractors of the plan.

“The Government is proposing to lower the compulsory starting age for prep by six months — not 18 months as is being falsely claimed by some,” he said.

“This means instead of starting prep at the age of five, Tasmanians will start at the age of four and a half years. This is a very significant but by no means a radical change, this simply brings Tasmania in-line with the rest of Australia.”

Mr Rockliff confirmed Ms Barwick’s concerns, however, stating that parents will have the choice to send their kids to kindergartner sooner, starting at the age of three years and six months. The Mercury reports that Opposition education spokesperson Michelle O’Byrne contends the initiative is not backed up by solid evidence.

“All that Tasmanians have been told by the Government is that the justification for changing the school starting age is that it will bring the state into line with the rest of the country … there is no definitive Australian school starting age.”

A “Stop lowering the school age in Tasmania” petition organised by United Voice has so far been signed by 2,561 people. The school starting age fact sheet can be found on the Tasmanian Department of Education website.]]>

What does the new Victorian Curriculum mean for you?

This article has been provided courtesy of Jacaranda.

In September 2015, the Victorian Government announced the new Victorian Curriculum as a key pillar of its plan to become the ‘Education State’.

As many teachers will know, change in curriculum is not new in Victoria, and the state has long been at the forefront of innovation in curriculum development. A quick snapshot of the past two decades alone reveals a commitment to ongoing reform and to improving learning outcomes for students.

Here’s a summary of the major innovations:

1995: The Curriculum and Standards Framework (CSF) was first implemented in Victorian schools.
2000: The CFS was republished as the CSF II. The CSF described explicitly what Victorian students should know from years prep through to Year 10 in eight key learning areas.
2006: The CSF II was replaced by the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) which was built on the strong foundations of the CSF but also emphasised the interdisciplinary skills students needed to succeed in the world; skills such as how to relate to each other, how to understand the world and how to communicate ideas.
2013: The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (AusVELS) was implemented.
2015: The Victorian Government introduced the new Victorian Curriculum, which can be implemented from 2016 and must be implemented by 2017. The curriculum ‘is the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for life-long learning, social development and active and informed citizenship.’1

As with any curriculum change, there are differences will need to be factored in. While teachers in Victorian schools have proven themselves highly adept at incorporating practical and aspirational elements of each curriculum reform phase, managing the transition can be an overwhelming task. In particular, the 2017 Victorian Curriculum not only introduces several changes that apply across all learning areas, but a number of subject-specific changes as well.

Victorian Curriculum by Jacaranda.
Guide to the new Victorian Curriculum by Jacaranda.

The overall impact, therefore, will inevitably vary by subject. To find out what the 2017 Victorian Curriculum means for you, download Jacaranda’s fact sheet. There’s one for each learning area: Mathematics, Science, Humanities, English and Health and Physical Education. This definitive guide will provide:

      Summary of the key changes that all teachers must implement
      Description of the General Capabilities
      Outline of structural and content changes for each learning area
      Insights from our publishing team


We hope the fact sheet is a useful resource to help teachers gain confidence going into 2017. If you have any additional questions about what the curriculum changes mean for you, don’t hesitate to email us.

1. Source:

DNA on a smartwatch

Genetic link to education attainment revealed

A recently released, global study has identified 74 genes that could play a role in how long a person attends school, and whether or not they go to university.

Researchers, including a team from The University of Queensland (UQ), analysed genetic information from 300,000 people to determine any links to education attainment.

Professor Peter Visscher of UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, said genetics may account for as much as 20 per cent variation in how much schooling a person received.

“Your level of education determines so many other aspects of how your life unfolds,” Professor Visscher said. “There is a widely-accepted relationship between educational attainment and health outcomes, but we don’t fully understand its causes.

“And that’s one reason for conducting this research – because of its relevance for broader medical research.”

In one example of how the research has raised further questions for investigation, results indicate the genes associated with higher educational attainment were associated with decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease on average.

“These tiny genetic differences may ultimately help to understand why some people are more susceptible to early cognitive decline than others,” said Professor Visscher.

The research, conducted by the Social Science Genetic Asasociation Consortium was published in Nature.

Treehouse design for Golden Square Primary

See a primary school campus designed by students

At Golden Square Primary School, the students can take satisfaction in knowing they had a hand in the design of their surrounds.

Following the 2009 merger of Maple Street Primary School and the original Golden Square Primary School, K2LD Architects were commissioned to design a new campus that would help bring the two student bodies together in a seamless transition.

To come up with the right concept, the architects decided to turn to the students for inspiration and, after a lot of sketching, it was collectively decided the new school should resemble a treehouse.

Situated on Maple Street in Bendigo, the new school campus was completed in June last year, with a formal opening ceremony performed last Friday.

Golden Square Bendigo
The new Golden Square Primary took its design cues from its students’ imaginations. Click to enlarge.

“Children are particularly sensitive to change, so we felt involving them in this process from the beginning would ease the transition and foster a sense of ownership over their new school,” said Golden Square Primary Principal, Barry Goode.

For K2LD Architects, this meant extensive consultation with the school community in order to create an environment in which the two former schools could be united.

“Our sessions with the students, teachers, parents and wider community allowed us to gain an appreciation for the internal dynamics at play and tailor a solution in which each group’s specific concerns were addressed and priorities met in a single expression that is at once practical and playful,” said K2LD Principal, Tisha Lee.

“We were amazed at the intensity and passion of the children; their ideas blew us away and the resulting ‘treehouse’ theme didn’t require any art of suggestion from our end, it was absolutely their own concept.”

The new school’s masterplan consists of a central administration and specialist building that houses reception, office, art, library and staff facilitiies, which is then flanked by two double storey buildings, containing four ‘learning communities’.

These learning communities includes four homerooms clustered around a central collaborative space, with additional staff resources and meeting rooms in each.

The two storey nature of the school buildings allows for a greater student capacity than was available previously, and also plays into the treehouse concept envisaged by the students.

“The added height feeds into our treehouse concept, allowing us to get creative with ‘trunk’ and ‘canopy’ inspired levels, whilst the withdrawal spaces offered an opportunity to create play ‘cubby’ spaces,” Lee said.

Renault Master Bus

Renault’s premium transport for the First XI

Buying a new Renault Master 12-seater Bus is a good way for school administrators and principals to encourage teachers to volunteer to escort pupils to off-site engagements.

The Renault Master Bus is based on the highly successful van of the same name and is very easy and comfortable to drive.

It’s very safe too, with the engine up front, not between the seats, meaning there’s a larger, safer crumple zone in front of the occupants.

And with dual airbags, a driver head and chest airbag, ABS and traction control, ESP and Grip-Xtend as well as a myriad of clever electronic aids, both passive and active safety systems give their all in the protection of those on board.

Renault Australia has specified the Bus with 12 seats so that there is plenty of legroom and shoulder room for growing kids, while behind the back row of four individual buckets seats there is a huge space for school bags or sports kit, or both. The uncompromising luggage space means teachers don’t necessarily need to tow a trailer when taking the bus away on a camping weekend, making life easier for all concerned. Plus a roof rack can carry up to 200 kilograms (including the rack).

An optional cargo barrier will be available complete with two metal shelves to allow the floor-to-ceiling space to be safely, yet fully loaded. Because the barrier sits behind the rear seats, a glazed panel in the roof provides the required third emergency exit and allows in plenty of light. All emergency exits are equipped with a hammer to break the glass in case of the need to evacuate in a rush.

Renault has priced the Master Bus from $59,990 (Manufacturer’s List Price, but less for ABN holders), making it exceptionally affordable. Renault running costs are reduced with up to 30,000 kilometres between scheduled servicing or once per year (unlike some that demand a day at the dealership after just 10,000 kilometres) and the first three scheduled services costs only $349 each. Renault protects its LCVs with a 3-year/200,000-kilometre-factory warranty, and this can be extended to five years, which is very handy for schools that don’t clock up big km on a regular basis.

Of course there are lap/sash seat belts for every seat as well as ISOFIX connections and tether strap hooks on two seats, just in case smaller tots are carried.

The air conditioning system has been designed to cope with Australian conditions, which means it can cool the cabin down very quickly even if the bus has been left in the sun for a while at a cricket or netball game. That means the engine doesn’t need to be left idling to run the A/C all the time, reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Getting in and out is easy, too, with a powered step emerging from under the side sliding door aperture even for models with the manually activated door. An optional electrically powered side sliding door is controlled by the driver.

Should the driver attempt to drive off with the side door open an alarm sounds and the door automatically begins to close.

Teachers will love driving the Renault Master Bus because it is very quiet, with barely any engine noise reaching the cabin. The smooth automated gearbox makes very slick changes and the elevated driving position gives a commanding view over the road.

Despite being 6.2 metres long and almost 2.5 metres high and over two metres wide, the Master Bus doesn’t feel huge on the road, or even when parking, thanks to a standard reversing camera.

Smooth sides and flush glazing also help to reduce wind noise from reaching the cabin, making the Bus exceptionally pleasant on longer journeys, even on the freeway at cruising speeds.

The 2.3-litre single turbo diesel engine is also very light on fuel with around 10 or 11.0-litres per 100-kilometre consumption easily achievable, depending on load, topography and headwinds. With a 100-litre thank, that means a theoretical range of more than 1,000 kilometres per fill, helping to further drive down the cost of transporting the First XI.

“We have designed the Master Bus to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of school users in Australia,” says Lyndon Healey, Model Line Manager for Renault LCV.

“We have a bus that is easy to drive, efficient to run and affordable to service.

“It is comfortable to drive and to sit in as a passenger, and it is exceptionally spacious down the back, with particularly generous luggage space especially compared with typical rival vehicles.

“For schools looking for a smart, spacious and affordable solution to moving small groups of pupils or teachers around, the Master Bus fulfils their requirements perfectly,” he says.

“And if the 12-seat configuration doesn’t work for you, talk to us to see how we can devise a version to meet your exact needs. After all in Europe there are more than 380 different variants on the Master van theme, so there will be a solution that’s right for you,” Lyndon says.

Find out more about the new Renault Master 12-seater Bus via the Renault website.