Saturday, 23 August 2014

More threats to the Unis

Higher Education confusion
If the Federal Government's slash and burn policies to higher education aren't bad enough....they have now ( obviously) leaked their plan B if those cuts and fee increases don't get through.
The federal government is apparently examining slashing billions of dollars worth of research funding from universities if Parliament blocks its sweeping higher education changes.

University vice-chancellors are alarmed by the "doomsday scenario", which they say would damage Australia's $10 billion export market for international university students.

Education Minister Pyne plans to introduce legislation into the House of Representatives on Thursday to deregulate university fees, cut course funding by an average 20 per cent and increase the interest charged on student loans. These cuts and dramatic fee increases will have a major impact on rural students and their families.

The opposition and other parties oppose these changes. According to the Sunday Age A senior government source said universities should be wary of "cutting off their nose to spite their face". if that isn't a threat then what is?

Mr Pyne declined to comment.

Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said: "The government's only option is to withdraw this package and start again.

"The whole point of its policy was supposed to be boosting the international standing of Australian universities.

"Perhaps we need research into how to cure foot in mouth from members of this government."

On the other hand Pyne says that "these reforms will dramatically change university for the better, they will provide more opportunities for students, they will give our universities the chance to gain the revenue they need to become ... some of the best universities in the world," Today Pyne refused to reject cutting funding for research saying it was the worse- case scenario. He seems happy to promote a policy of electoral blackmail.

Of course some universities who want to see themselves as mimicking 'posh palaces of exclusive learning' welcome the opportunity to embrace US and UK style 'ivy league' higher learning but will panic if they lose their research grant billions. Sadly higher education changes are dependent on a motley mob of cross bench senators who I have no confidence in at all.

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School Hours

A school which radically changed its learning hours, sending students home at lunchtime 'to capture their peak learning time' has reported amazing results.

Merrylands East Primary School (MEPS) in Sydney's western suburbs begins its classes at 8am and has back-to-back classes, plus a 30-minute break, until 1.15pm. 

The Queensland University of Technology conducted a two-year study and found the restructured day has had 'a tremendous impact'.

'They particularly found that the engagement has risen in the boys and is consistent for the girls,' Principal John Goh told Radio National, adding students were more engaged and found learning more enjoyable. 

A homework centre operates from 1.15pm to 3pm to help working parents. 

Mr Goh also introduced new classroom layouts and increased the use of technology. 

'We have minimal furniture. Not every child has a chair or a table because we know children don't always learn best at a desk,' he said.

The furniture includes round tables, booths and bean bags to allow for a range of different work behaviours.

Queensland University of Technology's Professor Linda Graham said: The teachers report far fewer kids getting into trouble due to lunchtime argy-bargy and they are not tired and emotional in that relatively useless last session of the day.

'The children have more time to play and be with their family.'

I would love to do something like this!

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Princess and the Pea
The grade 1 and 2s will be studying The Princess and the Pea for literature this week.I will be using a unit plan developed by my wife and available on TPT. Below are some examples of an art activities (weaving and a pop up book)

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