Saturday, 31 January 2015

Queensland landslide

Newman has been kicked out.
NO....Not this Newman but Campbell Newman Premier of Queensland.
Apparently Queenslanders didn't like being lied too by their politicians, the politicisation of the judiciary and didn't like state assets being sold off.
They also didn't like drastic cut backs and sackings from the state health and education system that they said they wouldn't do before being elected. The Labor opposition won a remarkable election victory last night with a swing of between 10-13% across the state. Amongst their promises is the reinvestment in state education.
The Federal Government is also on the ropes. There are many reasons for this but 2 main reasons I've been raising in this blog since the last election is their backflip and lies about Gonski funding and the radical changes to higher education policy that they don't have a mandate for.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Update on family support

From today's Age Facebook page

Needy students are set to receive subsidies for school camps and free breakfasts, uniforms and glasses in time for next school year, the Premier says.

Premier Daniel Andrews said many families were struggling with school costs this year due to cuts to support services made by the former state government.

"Our aim is to try and have as much of our education agenda that we committed to at the election in place for next school year," he said.

During the election campaign Labor promised a $150 million fund to help struggling families with school camp and excursion costs, as well as funding for uniforms, and free eye tests and glasses at 250 disadvantaged schools. It also pledged $13.5 million to provide free breakfasts to students at 500 disadvantaged schools.

"The cutbacks to education have stopped and the process of reaffirming our commitment to making Victoria the education state, that work has started," Mr Andrews said, while marking the start of the school year at St Kilda Primary School on Thursday.

He said some of these commitments would take years to roll out.Mr Andrews was joined by Education Minister James Merlino, who reiterated the government's pledge to spend $510 million on new schools and upgrades, including new schools in South Melbourne and Prahran.

Mr Merlino criticised former planning minister Matthew Guy for not allocating any money for a school in Fishermans Bend, a which he described as a "planning disaster".

"There will be school provision in Fishermans Bend," he said.

It was probably asking too much to expect he new government to be able to deliver on that promise straight away but many families and schools are struggling this year without the EMA ( Education Maintenance Allowance) that the previous government scrapped. Some stop gap support might be necessary and should be considered. It  will be interesting to go to the first regional directors meeting this term and discover exactly what changes are in the pipeline.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Zig zag pictures

Find below a picture of our zig zag pictures
Today our new bookshelves arrived so I was able to consolidate our parent library and add our eSmart library to it. ( Three bookshelves below)

Also I relocated our growing graphic novel library into the old classroom.( Before and after photos)

I usually don't include family photos on this blog but I've added a photo of my daughter who is starting year 12 at Ballarat High School this week. This will be the last year that we'll have a family member as a student in a state school.
Feeling old!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Weeding out low expectations in state schools

Story from today's Age

Some years ago I was invited to speak at a government school in an affluent Melbourne suburb. The school conformed to the sad archetype: underwhelming results, an image problem centred around ill-disciplined students and complacent teachers, snubbed by the wealthier families who opted for private alternatives further afield.

What sticks in my memory is a casual remark by the principal. She explained that she had invited some students from an elite private school to hear my talk. She said she did this kind of thing every so often to expose her students to their striving peers in prestigious schools. Her attitude made me uncomfortable. She seemed to regard it as a given that her school couldn't instil excellence, that her students were less driven and that she needed to import private school kids as role models in the hope some of their ambition would magically rub off.

Let's see an education minister with the guts to both spruik and shake-up public education.

Now some people have a zealous faith in private schools, and it has surprisingly little to do with the perceived quality of education on offer. Such people will unselfconsciously say "we're buying our kids a peer group," a statement that conjures an image of suited midgets exchanging business cards in the playground, and one that reinforces the adage that money can't buy class. Yet even for people less invested in training their offspring to social climb – even for people disinclined to fork out up to half the average wage on the vague promise of future wealth for their kids – there's a niggling anxiety about enrolling in all but the top government schools. The anxiety is about encountering the kind of attitude expressed by the principal in my anecdote. Parents worry that too many government schools see themselves as an option of last resort and, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, conduct themselves accordingly.

I'm talking about a problem of mindset in some government schools. But there is a related problem of school funding. There is also the problem that most of the education commentators talking about the problem of mindset do so to deflect attention from the problem of funding. These commentators contend that aspiration is the key to educational excellence, never mind state-of-the-art science labs or the wherewithal to fly in educational gurus from overseas to impart the latest pedagogical fad to teachers. Many critiques about public education seek to legitimise the gross inequity that sees taxpayer dollars go to the nation's wealthiest schools.

Still, we can be mindful of political agendas in the education debate, while conceding that money alone can't fix a mindset that's comfortable with mediocrity. How such a mindset can be eradicated is starkly illustrated in Maxine McKew's book Class Act, which profiles some dysfunctional schools that turned themselves around.

When the principal of one such school, Charles La Trobe College in Melbourne's north, took over, she found teachers who dealt with struggling students by setting less homework, offering "softer" subjects and even dumbing down their classroom vocabulary. McKew identifies this aiming low as a default response in the education system, though the solution calls for the precise opposite — boosting the intellectual rigour of what students are taught. Charles La Trobe's new principle put the school on a smarter path.

At St Albans Secondary, another school that's been transformed into a beacon of excellence, students themselves had previously complained about teachers turning up late to class and failing to enforce homework assignments.

Last year's OECD Education At a Glance report, which compares educational outcomes among developed nations, reveals that Australia is one of nine countries in which private school students spend at least an hour and a half more each week on homework than students at public schools. We're entitled to an explanation about the discrepancy. As the OECD report warns, inclusive societies need education systems that support meritocracy and social mobility because "inequality represents a long-term threat to growth."

Various state governments have tackled the problem of mediocrity in the education system with some success; setting up mentoring programs for principals, deploying high-performing principals in low-performing schools, closing failing schools and re-opening them with a new ethos. And as Class Act makes clear, there's no shortage of student aspiration at schools such as St Albans. One student whose home doubled as a restaurant took to studying in the car to escape the noise. Another lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her mother, a garment pieceworker; the student had to help her mother in the mornings and evenings, but still completed her homework at midnight. She came dux of the school in 2010 and was admitted to medicine at Monash University. Now there's a peer group worth its weight in gold. 

If the Andrews Government is serious about making Victoria the "education state" it needs to redouble the effort to weed out the low expectations, which McKew and others have identified, and to tell the public it's doing so. Why not set the tone with an advertising campaign that celebrates inspirational teachers in the government sector? Think notable Australians, some from humble backgrounds, reminiscing about the teacher who dared them to work hard and dream big.

I've raised this idea before ( probably 20 years ago!) when I was the small school rep on the North- South Grampians network and again when I was on the small schools advisory group and was told it was not affordable. I suggested it be done at a local level and that we promote the diversity of our state system. When a conservative government was in power I was told that the Minister was responsible for ALL schools and shouldn't be seen to be using tax payers money to promote one sector over another!) 

Sure, the Opposition will complain it is political advertising posing as a community awareness campaign, but even if they're right, there's a longer-term benefit at stake. Let's see an education minister with the guts to both spruik and shake-up public education; success, after all, depends on this dual-track approach because the more middle-class parents move to government schools, the greater the pressure for higher outcomes in those schools. Let's see a government that's game to confront the relentless propaganda of the private school lobby, with all its linguistic spin; its "educators" rather than "teachers", its "early learning centres" instead of kindergartens.

Let's hear more from outstanding educators in government schools so that the default setting can be lifted to excellence, inspiring our students and fostering the public's faith in the system.

Julie Szego is an Age columnist, author and freelance journalist.

First Day Back!

Everybody arrived back at school healthy and happy and ready for a new school year. We had an easy 'what did you do on the holidays?' sort of day today and will start in earnest tomorrow.
At my desk below

We made zig zag pictures today. We did this last year and it was a success so we tried it again.My example is below.

We used cheap calendars showing Australian scenes ( we used Australian animal calendars last year)
The kids turned them over and ruled 7-8 zig zag lines and then cut the pieces out. They then turned them around and glued them down onto black A3 cover paper, leaving  a gap between each slice of the picture.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

New school funding report

Australian school funding lacks transparency and coherence, and outcomes of numerous studies have shown the difficulty in determining how individual schools are funded, according to research by the OECD.

The Education Policy Outlook 2015 – Making Reforms Happen addresses the need for improvement in education in a comparative manner, taking into account the importance of national context. Through a review of different countries’ context, challenges and experience in implementing education reform, the report offers directions and strategies to facilitate successful introduction of changes.

The OECD report found expenditure on educational institutions in Australia as a percentage of GDP (for all educational levels combined) is below the OECD average, with a higher share from private sources than the OECD average.

The research pointed at Australia’s decentralised education system and said increasing the clarity of policies and finding within it needs attention, and added that the country’s high education performance can be complemented with further focus on reducing inequities by tackling system-level policies hindering equity in education.

It addressed the need to increase access to education and performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as well as providing continued support for professional development of teachers among key issues.

Last month the Federal Government gave a strong indication that education policy and delivery will remain the responsibility of the states and territories in its issues paper titledRoles and Responsibilities in Education which summarises the progression of both Commonwealth and state and territory involvement in Australia’s education arrangements, along with analysis of the current education system, and forms part of the white paper on the Reform of the Federation, due for release early 2016.

Although the paper acknowledges that not all the pressures on the education system stem from the complexity of coinciding government roles and responsibilities, it says that improving the allocation of roles and responsibilities could make it easier for governments to identify what the problems are, who is responsible for fixing them, and empower teachers, parents and the wider community to hold the appropriate level of government to account for taking the action necessary to improve outcomes.

Addressing equity in the Australian school system, renowned author and educator Dr Pasi Sahlberg said more equitable education systems are those that are able to weaken association of socio-economic situation and learning achievement in school.

He said equity in the Australian school system is above the OECD average, but OECD’s latest PISA survey found that Australia is the only country where differences in learning mathematics between advantaged and disadvantaged students are large, while the strength of the relationship between students’ achievement in school and their family background is weaker than average.

“This indicates that there is an equity problem in Australia rather than a genuine lack of quality in its public schools,” he said.

From The Education Matters magazine

It was interesting to hear John Dawkins ( Hawke and Keating Minister and minister responsible for introducing the HECS scheme in the 80s) on ABC News talking about The Abbott/ Pyne higher education policy which he said is not reform and that changes to the current system will not succeed without bipartisan support.


First Day Back

First day of school today. It was a pupil free day so I took the opportunity to tidy up our messy cupboards, help with the mowing and complete some budget work. There wasn't a lot to do I've spent over 70 hours at school during the holidays and I'm pretty well organised. The school looks great after a tidy up and mow ( refer photos below)

Below are some photos of Glen Park from 1912. They show some locals preparing to go rabbiting and the bottom photo shows one of the many small cottages from the area. in 1912 there were lots of small properties , a pub, post office, mines and orchards rather than the large agribusiness in the area today.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Old school names

Below is a list of just some of the small schools which no longer exist in the Central Highlands area


    Black Lead  1857-1876 

               located in the Magpie area

               Back Creek  1859-1871 located in Amherst area

               Campbells Diggings 1860-1863 located in Haddon area

               Cabbage Tree 1859-1930 located in the Creswick area

               Donkey Gully 1859-1877 located in the Faraday area

               Dolly’s Creek 1861-1878 located in the Elaine area

               Hardies Hill 1858-1879 located in the Buninyong area

                 Inkerman Lead 1861-1867 located in Ballarat area

               Italian Gully 1860-1874 located in Cape Clear area 

               Jim Crow 1860-1864 located in Daylesford area

               Long Point 1858-1866 located in Creswick area

               Lucky Woman’s located in Linton area

               Plank Road 1856-1874 located in Ballarat East area

               Standard Lead 1862-1865 located in Linton area

               Weatherboard Hill 1862-1948 located in the Learmonth area

                  Piggoreet 1863-1924 located in Scarsdale area

               Bunker’s Hill 1860-1935 located west of Ballarat

               Sheepwash 1866-1934 formally Tourello

               Mount Rowan 1865-1946 located north of Ballarat

               Grand Trunk 1865-1928 located in Haddon area

               Coomoora 1866-1945 located in Daylesford area

               Clydesdale  located in Talbot area

               Moonlight 1867-1883 now known as Berringa

               Bungaree Springs 1871-1893 became known as Glen Park

               Bungal 1875-1967 located in Mt Egerton area

                Pootilla 1878-1946

               Jerusalem 1896-1932 in Creswick locality.

I love the names of some of these schools. Wouldn’t it be great to say you taught at Donkey Gully or Sheepwash.


New photos of the old school

Find below some photos I found today that I took of our old school house before it was demolished.

The old Glen Park schoolhouse, used as a school from 1871 to 1963.

The Glen Park Primary School ‘Roll of Honour’ which honours men from Glen Park who served in the Great War.

Stored in the rafters of a local farm until it was returned to the school a few years ago.

The interior of the old school.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Australia Day holiday

FVery sunny but mild day today in Ballarat.It was very quiet this afternoon but should get busier tonight when they have a huge fireworks display.
Below are some images from around the lake.   

Local black swans and paddle boat.

Gates for the gardens, manicured kangaroos and the begonia green house.
Bust of local lad ( Trewalla) James Scullin in the Prime Minister's Walk. ( Bust of former PMs) 
Scullin had the misfortune of becoming PM soon after the Wall Street Crash and the start of the Great Depression.
He battled internal party scandal and conflict,( From Treasurer Ted Theodore ) and treachery ( from future PM Joe Lyons) a rogue state premier ( Jack Lang) and interference from the English ( They wanted war loans paid off despite the impact it was going to have on our weakened economy and despite the fact that we suffered 60 000 battle casualties to defend them) so was our last one term Prime Minister. ( He may not be the last) He went on to become a mentor for war time PM John Curtin ( another local lad from Creswick)
Bad fireworks photo
 also had a sticky beak around the new Miner's Rest kindergarten. An old friend of mine, Liz worked tirelessly last year to get this project off the ground. It should see its first students next week. We had a look inside and it is all shiny and new. The kinda committee has done a great job with the garden outside.

Congratulations to Carol Oliver who received an Order of Australia medal for he lifetime commitment to dance and ballet in Ballarat. My daughter attended Carol Oliver's School of Ballet for many years and always spoke highly of Miss Carol and her sister Miss Sheryl who taught her classical ballet and jazz.

Sorry to hear about the death of Tom Uren 93. A boxer, veteran of the doomed 8th Division, prisoner of war, anti Vietnam War campaigner, conservationist  and outstanding minister in the Whitlam Government. 

Only in Queensland?

From today's Brisbane Times

School kids and sporting groups stand as the main beneficiaries of the LNP's election bribery.

A review of projects the Newman Government will only guarantee in an electorate if the local LNP candidate is elected shows the government hitting key voter pressure points in an attempt to shore up seats.

Mr Newman has stood by his 'LNP MP only' strategy, despite criticism from both opposition MPs and voters who have labelled it "political blackmail".

"I'll be very, very clear," Mr Newman said.

"If it's in the candidate or the member's strong local plan, that is the candidate's plan.

"And it is dependent on the candidate being elected. That's pretty clear."

It means that if the LNP government is returned, which polls indicate will be the case, but a local LNP candidate is not, that electorate will not see promised projects delivered.

Improvements at schools and sporting clubs appear to be the biggest carrots dangled by the LNP.

Tamborine Mountain State High School's $500,000 auditorium has been linked to Jon Krause's re-election, despite the school having outgrown its current facility.

Keebra Park State High School will only receive its new amenities block and change facilities if Rob Molhoek is re-elected, while Gracemere kids, in the seat of Rockhampton, will only receive their $1 million new skate facility, if Bridie Luva unseats Labor's Bill Byrne. The Daisy Hill Netball Club's $10,000 grant has been linked to John Grant's fate at the ballot box, while Redland Bay State School kids will only get their $85,000 shade sails, if Matt McEachan keeps the seat for the LNP.

there are literally dozens of other examples of this electoral blackmail across Queensland leading up to their state election next weekend. Most of these announcements have included photo ops with children and those who stand to benefit from the projects.

Mr Newman, who previously described the conditional guarantee as "quite reasonable", said he would not alter the plan.

"If you vote 1 for the LNP candidate in your local area and they get up, they will deliver that plan," he said. Lets hope the people of Queensland will stand up to this unprecedented attack on democracy.

Happy Australia Day

Or is that 'Invasion Day'? Whatever you prefer. Whether it's ignoring it, protesting about it, having a BBQ or drinking too much and getting sunburnt I hope you have a good day and enjoy the long weekend. All Australians like a long weekend!
Mount Wallace was the one teacher rural school I had prior to Glen Park. I took over early in the school year of 1994. In a crude attempt to raise class sizes and close down small schools, the then Kennett Government changed the student teacher ratios which meant that a school like Mt Wallace with a staff of 2 for 20 children went down to 1.2 staff. I still can't believe I taught 20 kids from prep-6 three days a week in a fairly run down old building but that was what I faced when I got there. 
About half the students left the following year and went to bigger nearby schools fearing that school was going to close or preferring a private school education rather than a rural school education.
1995-96 were good years there. We attracted a few new students, I purchased our first computers connected to the Internet ( I still remember the kids excitement) and we had a huge tidy up and re-organisation. I also remember some very popular camps and excursions. 
I didn't apply for the vacant permanent job there in 1997 but applied for Glen Park because it meant less travel. Sadly Mount Wallace lost numbers in 1997 and was quickly closed. Below is a little bit of the school's history

Mount Wallace Primary School

No. 1017

An application for a school at Mount Wallace was received in 1868 but it wasn’t until 1870 that 2 acres of Crown land was put aside for a school in the parish of Ballark.

A wooden classroom was built for a total cost of 127 pounds and was opened for the first pupils to attend on 23rd January 1871. Roderick Robertson was the first head teacher. In 1876 a residence of two rooms was built. From the middle of 1895 Mount Wallace worked half-time and then closed briefly. It reopened in 1889 (part-time with Beremboke) It closed again soon after and then reopened in 1904 and closed the following year.

The building was still on the site in 1914 . In 1915 the department handed it over to the local residents who rented it for 10 pounds per year. Mount Wallace reopened again part-time again with Beremboke in 1919 and closed again in 1927 (I wonder how this part-time opening on shared sites worked? Was it the teacher who was shared between schools for part of the week or year?)

It was opened again in 1928 along with Bungeeltap South but closed again in 1932.

It was closed throughout the war years but reopened on August 1st 1950 in the supper-room of the Hall which had been purchased by the locals for 30 pounds.

An LCT was erected on a site of 5 acres on the property of L.E. Spriggs and first occupied on 20th February 1957.( The old Glen Park building is an LCT built in 1963. They are basically weatherboard permanent structures although most people think they are old mod 2 portables)

Mount Wallace continued operating until 1997 when it closed mid-year when its enrolment dropped below 12 students. Students at the school either went to Mount Egerton, Meredith or Ballan Primary Schools. DE&T had a policy at the time of closing schools promptly when their enrolments dropped below 12. Unlike the many instances in the past where the school opened and closed as the community needed it, Mount Wallace is now closed for good.

Jeff Fyffe the retired Principal at Sovereign Hill tells of the time when he taught at Fiskville and he traveled down from there to Mount Wallace on a Friday afternoon for a few beers with the Head teacher at Mount Wallace. One day they left the beer to cool in the dam next door to the Mount Wallace School. (They weren't allowed to keep alcohol on school property) When they went to retrieve them, they were gone.

Jeff is still haunted by the mystery of the disapperaring beer!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Early days at Glen Park


The early settlement of the area is not well documented but clearly the first settlers came for one of three reasons.  In the early days of Ballarat timber was in great demand for building, industry and use in the mines.  The early timber cutters would have removed a lot of the forest which covered the fertile volcanic soil.  The soil which resulted from volcanic activity in the area was, and still is, much sought after for agricultural purposes.

Miners also came to the area searching for the deep leads buried beneath the basalt flow.  A legacy of these efforts are a number of mullock heaps still visible near the school today. ( Photo below of our closest mullah heap from the Eastern Plateau Mine)  The miners often had to blast their way through bluestone to reach the buried leads and were often thwarted by water in the mines.  Many ofthe mines struck an underground stream which could not be lowered even by pumping 24 hours a day.  During a drought in 1914 a number of local shafts were pumped and although the pumps removed 10,000 gallons an hour, the water level did not drop.  John and George Kneeshaw, two of the early settlers in the district, worked the Eastern Plateau Mine (southeast of the school ) to a depth of 250 feet but were beaten by water.  The abandoned mine was purchased by the Ballarat Water Board who investigated pumping the considerable underground reserves of water to supplement the Gong Gong reservoir during periods of drought


The early settlement of the area is not well documented but clearly the first settlers came for one of three reasons.  In the early days of Ballarat timber was in great demand for building, industry and use in the mines.  The early timber cutters would have removed a lot of the forest which covered the fertile volcanic soil.  The soil which resulted from volcanic activity in the area was, and still is, much sought after for agricultural purposes.

Miners also came to the area searching for the deep leads buried beneath the basalt flow.  A legacy of these efforts are a number of mullock heaps still visible near the school today.  The miners often had to blast their way through bluestone to reach the buried leads and were often thwarted by water in the mines.  Many ofthe mines struck an underground stream which could not be lowered even by pumping 24 hours a day.  During a drought in 1914 a number of local shafts were pumped and although the pumps removed 10,000 gallons an hour, the water level did not drop.  John and George Kneeshaw, two of the early settlers in the district, worked the Eastern Plateau Mine (southeast of the school ) to a depth of 250 feet but were beaten by water.  The abandoned mine was purchased by the Ballarat Water Board who investigated pumping the considerable underground reserves of water to supplement the Gong Gong reservoir during periods of drought.

Old White Swan Hotel.
The White Swan is best know today as a reservoir but the name originated from a hotel which was built on the site last century by William Ritchie an immigrant from Scotland, who still has descendants living in the district today.
One well known story involving the White Swan Hotel is that during the days leading up to the Eureka Revolt in 1854, a group of miners from the Creswick diggings set out on foot to join the diggers at Eureka. On the way they were caught in a terrible rain storm and sought shelter at the White Swan Hotel. These miners never made it to the Eureka Stockade. Also, Arty Coffield recalls a tornado which swept through the district in 1926 tearing many boards off the Hotel. Although it was repaired at the time the White Swan Hotel closed soon after and quickly fell into disrepair. The remains of the building were demolished during construction of the reservoir and the site is now 5m. under water.

Long weekend

The huge downpour of rain we had a while ago has made the lawn at school weirdly green for January. It needs a mow.

I bought the last of the pupil requisites today so we're ready to go.
Our veggie garden is looking great. Any parents reading this should pop up to school and pick a lettuce or two!
It's the Beer Festival in Ballarat today

Friday, 23 January 2015

Modern classics

Above is a link to a list of modern American Classic picture story books. We have 4 of these at Glen Park but most of them I don't remember seeing in our local book shops.

The high cost of Education

A story from today's Age

As students prepare to return to class next week, welfare groups say families are struggling to meet rising back-to-school costs. Many students are expected to miss out on funding after the Education Maintenance Allowance for low-income families was scrapped at the end of last year, and the Schoolkids Bonus will be abolished next year.

Parents Victoria said welfare agencies were inundated with requests for help from distressed families facing mounting costs at the start of the school year. "You've got all the agencies trying to fill the gaps, but not everyone qualifies for support," executive officer Gail McHardy said. "And those agencies have made it very clear that they run out of assistance very quickly because they just can't meet demands upon them."

Children's charity The Smith Family estimates the cost of sending a child to a public primary school is more than $2000 a year, excluding excursions and camps or discretionary items such as school photos, computers and tutoring. Fees for certain subjects are higher, and some schools have requirements that each child must have a laptop or tablet. At private schools these costs skyrocket.

"Before your child even walks in the front gate the average parent is looking at spending around $700 on uniforms, shoes and stationery, and that's a conservative figure based on the least expensive purchases at nationally accessible chain stores," chief executive Lisa O'Brien said. "Once in the gate, and depending on whether your child goes to primary or high school, parents encounter a whole new raft of expenses."

Modelling released by the Australian Scholarships Group this week puts the total cost of a public education in Melbourne for a child born this year at $69,349. The member-based organisation, which invests money to help parents offset education fees, forecasts costs of more than $500,000 for children who go from prep to year 12 through the private system.

The Smith Family supports 34,000 children nationally through its Learning for Life program, providing financial support and mentoring to struggling families and running after-school learning clubs for their children. Parents put the money towards uniforms, stationery, books and, increasingly, computer equipment. But the charity said a drop in sponsorship over the past 12 months means 1600 children currently in the program are at risk of starting the school year without assistance.   

NOTE: At Glen Park we keep our costs very low. We don't ask for 'voluntary fees' and the school provides pupil requisites. We don't charge for camps and excursions and we keep our uniforms cheap and simple. ( some primary schools even in Ballarat have very expensive uniform costs) We can provide this because I clean the school and donate the $6000 back to the school to pay for student learning needs throughout the year, whether it be new pencils and crayons or the $80 each it would have cost each child to do gymnastics last year. We also purchase iPads for our students since we started using them now almost 5 years ago. I know the BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device) policy of many schools getting into iPads for the first time this year is also causing a lot of grief for families this year in particular. The real slug comes in secondary school especially if you go private. 

Interesting short story about teaching cursive writing in the US from Huffington Post. 


Trip to Geelong today for a little break before getting back to work.
The Geelong foreshore 

They liked Edward the 7th in Geelong 
 Foreshore sculptures (fins?)

National Wool Museum

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Real estate and schools

Demand for homes in top state school zones is sending property prices in those areas straight to the top of the class.

Real estate agents say mum and dad buyers are forking out, on average, 10 to 15 per cent more to acquire a house within the boundary of an esteemed Victorian government college.

Parents happy to pay a premium to secure their child a seat at a reputable secondary school are keeping one eye on real estate listings and the other on annual VCE results.

Above is an extract from a story in today's Age. It's not news, they've run similar stories before and we have a great example of it here in Ballarat where people will rent property in the Ballarat High zone to get in there. BHS have a waiting list. I know the same applies with Frankston High School.

the same story features in the Daily Mail online but includes capital city maps.

$15 million Propoganda campaign

The federal government plans to spend $15m on its higher education advertising campaign, which was designed to ease concerns about proposed changes.

The taxpayer-funded campaign was launched late last year shortly after the Senate defeated the government’s first attempt to remove caps on university fees, reduce bachelor-degree subsidies, and extend funding to students in pathway programs and at private colleges.

Previous reports indicated the campaign would cost $8m, but the Department of Education disclosed the full costs to the National Audit Office after complaints from Senator Kim Carr the opposition higher education spokesman and the independent senator Nick Xenophon.

The $14.6m campaign budget included $9.5m for advertising bookings, $2.3m for creative development, $1.3m for their website $800,000 for research and $500,000 for contact centre support, the department said.

Another local recollection

MR ALBERT ERIC WILSON The Story of a Pioneer Fruit Grower of Hillview Road.

(Although not a former pupil of Glen Park Mr. Wilson,93 when his recolections were first recorded, grew up in the district.)

Hillview Road, Brown Hill, is off the White Swan Road and leads on if you follow same, and comes out at the top of Longs Hill Road near the Glen Park School. There are three roads there, one to Pootilla, one to Wattle Flat and the other to the White Swan Reservoir - a very nice drive.

Regarding my own life from school days, my Father and Mother had a small orchard on the corner of Gracefield Road and Bromley Lane. I was born and reared there and went to Brown Hill State School. The Headmaster at that time was John Risday and Walter Fairley. Even at School I was a keen gardener and had flocks, nasturtiums and marigolds around the paths. I was good with Arithmetic, not good with Grammar, however I got my Merit Certificate before I turned 14, my birthday being 4th February. On the last planting of trees day, when I was thirteen years of age, I planted the big spruce tree that is still there nearest the flagpole at the southern gate at Thompson Street.

When I left School, I earned a few shillings where I could. I put in two years at the Ballarat Lytho printing works where now is 3BA's office. Mr Will Prowse was one of my seniors then. The wages at that time were 10 shillings and six pence for 1st year and fourteen shillings the next year. Any how, I did not like printing and I left same. I received a position in an office at the Sub Treasury where they issued the Miners Rights each year that was next door to the entry into the Post Office backyard, off Lydiard Street. I was there for about six months and I got a position with the Commercial Bank at Heidelberg. I got rather homesick and came back home.

To gather a few pounds in those days, I cut wood, caught rabbits and dug potatoes with the potato fork. The price for digging same was from 10 pence, 1/- or 1/4 or, if a light crop, 1/6-. At the end of a day digging, you would be lucky if you had dug and earned up to one pound for the big three bushell bag.

I saved what I could and in the year 1922 - 23, I purchased the 43 acres I have now, for four hundred pounds. It was rather rough, a small portion had been cleared, the rabbits were bad and I had to wire net the portion I planted with trees to protect same.

I carried on the clearing of the main portion in the depression year. Up to the 13th January, 1939 bushfire, I had four horses and to get the trees down we grubbed round the bottom, and cut what roots we could get at down to one foot in depth. Someone would climb up with a ladder to a reasonable height, attach a steel cable from there. The cable would go to a large log to which the horses were connected. This was effective. We always made sure the cable was long enough that when the tree fell it did not hit the horses. In the depression I had three boys of 17 or 18 years of age working for me. Wages for them then was around 30/- a week for 5 eight hour days.

Regarding the 1939 bushfire, I can consider myself lucky that I am able to be here to write this article. I belonged to the Glen Park Fire Brigade. Mr McBain at Kirks Reservoir was the Captain. When the smoke from the fire came towards us from the north, he phoned me and advised me to meet them at Springs Road (now White Swan Road). We assembled there and the wind on that day was terrific. Pieces of gum bark, as long as one's arm were coming over our heads fully alight. Anyhow with several others, we saved Hardings house and a Mr. Frank Davidson, an employee of the Water Commission said to me "go up home, you could be in trouble there". I made a run to go up the gully towards home. This gully was not on fire at that time. He called out to me "The pig sty is alight". I went back to him and put the building out and if I had continued on my first attempt I would never have survived, the wind and burnt leaves were going south like a big suction.

When I arrived home or near home the stables housing four horses was burning. I rushed in, undid their ropes, put a chaff bag over their heads and pushed them out into a clear spot. All the sheds were burnt, including the apple packing shed. My home was saved with help from J. L. Bennett and Co. who I had called for help. Mr W. Curnow of that firm used the orchard spray plant to keep the west side of the house wet to stop it going up also. This fire burnt as far as Bungaree, taking with it the Water Commission factory pine plantation and several houses. The temperature on the four days before the fire, was above 110 degrees and you may imagine how dry things were.

Being in the Brigade and having lost the sheds, my friends gathered together later on, on a couple of Saturday's and they rebuilt the sheds. My main loss at that time was 1000 twelve year old fruit trees with a good crop of saleable apples on and that year the price was good. Harcourt had no water and Bryant and Gourley gave me one pound four shillings for Five Crown and Rymer apples - a saleable apple in those days.

In the earlier days, I had planted a number of varieties not now grown or even remembered. They were to my best memory - Maidens (Blush or twenty ounce), Munroes Favourite, Yates (Rienett decanida), Rymer (Five Crown London pippin), Alexander, Alfraston, Bismark (Stewart Seedling), Hoover and Democrat, (Northern Spy) Buncombe, Sturmer, Quaringdon, Statesman (Snow Apple Pomedonnag), King Cole and those best known today - Jonathan, Grannysmith, Delicious and Gravenstein. Regarding the King Cole apple, it is a good all round apple, a good keeper either eating or cooking and not so hard to keep free of disease as some others. These apple trees were given to us to try. They came from Coles Nurseries at Tyabb some 50 years ago. They turned out a good one and we planted some 100 trees of these varieties but today they are not known so we have gone out of that one for the better known ones.

In my early twenties I spent 5 seasons in the shearing shed at Euston on the Murray River. The shed usually, unless notified, started on the 4th August and to get there we would leave Ballarat Station around 10 o'clock at night arriving at Mildura about 8 o'clock the next morning. We would take our bikes and blankets, etc., cross the river by the punt at Gol Gol, travel the bush track, then through the malley scrub ride the 50 miles and get to the shearing shed quarters by tea time. One year I was roustabout for the shearing team of 14 shearers. Next season I got a job on the wool press for 5 weeks and 3 days. After paying expenses at the shed, I received a cheque for fifty-six pounds, which was big money for those days.

One Sunday night after leaving Ballarat, there had been floods in this area and when we got to Sutherland, Swanwater, a lot of the ballast under the sleepers had been washed away. This meant a train was sent down from Woomerlang to meet the passengers who could walk from sleeper to sleeper. The others that could not attempt to get across were taken back to Maryborough. That year, when we arrived at Euston, the river was very low. After the five weeks, a fisherman's wagon with two horses was required to take us through the water, two and a half miles wide, to where he put us down on firm ground. We rode the bikes to Manangatang to get home again.

Regarding the old varieties of apples, some 10 years ago it was time to get out of them. I had them bulldozed out and Lloyd, my son, and his son Geoff have enough of the good varieties on their and my first wife's property to look after and maintain. There is also a cool store on that property.  Since the taking out of my fruit trees, I am developing the growing of berries, raspberries, black and red currants, Logan berries and a thornless blackberry which was only planted last season and is a good one.

The raspberry varieties I have are all good ones. They are Willowmite (Glen Clover) (Camber) Tasmanian Full Basket and Heritage and they are all making headway.

Regarding the tree Lucerne, we have had hedges of this tree since we started and did not know the value of same for fodder till the Department of Agriculture drew attention to same. These trees are not a hungry tree like Pines and Cypress. You can grow anything under or near them without any worry. They are a quick grower and the foliage is good fodder for a dry season, if goats or animals, that would eat them, are kept away.

Regarding Boobialla - they too are a good tree for a hedge or windbreak. They thicken out and are evergreen. The same applies to the Lucerne trees.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

No rest for teaching principals

Went up to school today and did a few jobs. I had a go at cleaning the windows (Not sure about windex wipes?) but I think next time I'll get experts to do it. I trimmed up the pathway, hosed down and cleaned the porches, de-cobwebbed all buildings and de-frosted the fridge. The lawns will be mowed next Wednesday and I'll clean and sweep the paths on the same day and we should be ready for the kids next Thursday.

Where's the Gonski funds?

Schools have been saying since last year that something dodgy has been going on with promised Gonski money. ( Not including the Federal Government reneging on the last 2 years of the promised funding- when the bulk of the money was to flow through) It simply didn't seem to be there. The former government's education minister and central office bean counters said all education funding was there in 'one big bucket'. Principals have been saying that they haven't noticed any increase in funding in fact there seems to be for many of them a decrease in funding.Below is a story from today's Age including comments from Ballarat High's principal and a promise from the new government about transparency in funding. It will be interesting to see where the money has gone.( Afterall the NSW government seems to be able to do it so should we.)
From the Age 

Experienced principals are struggling to balance their books, with some school budgets plunging into the red for the first time despite promised Gonski funding.

As students prepare to return to school next week, a number of principals say they have been forced to cut literacy and numeracy programs and spending on maintenance and student welfare to make ends meet.

It comes as the Education Department investigates the Gonski agreement and the Andrews government prepares to release details of how much extra state and federal money Victorian schools have received under the funding deal.

"I have a very good comprehension of how the budget works but this year something funny has gone on,"  Mitcham Primary School principal Ian Sloane said.

"The Gonski money doesn't appear to be there. It looks like I will be in deficit this year for the first time."

He said he had spoken to many principals who were struggling to meet salary costs.

While there has been a slight drop in enrolments at his school, Mr Sloane said he did not understand why his budget appeared to be in deficit this year.

His school has cut a maths intervention program this year due to budget constraints.  

Ballarat High School principal Gary Palmer has previously raised concerns about his school's financial situation, and said it was worsening despite strong student numbers. He has been forced to cut back on student services and welfare, science laboratory support, literacy support and maintenance costs. He has also axed three VCE subjects this year to save money.

"I'm not sure why our budget is so tight going into this year. Over the last three years we have trimmed away, but it has become more complex and difficult. I haven't seen any evidence of the Gonski funding." Three other principals confirmed they were in the red this year.

Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals president Judy Crowe said managing a deficit put a considerable burden on principals.

"Our budgets don't seem to be keeping pace with the costs of running schools. It impacts on the opportunities for students."

Labor promised ahead of the state election it would provide schools with a breakdown of how much Gonski money they had been allocated, as happens in New South Wales.

The former Coalition government was criticised for not providing schools with details of the deal, which will deliver an additional $12.2 billion of state and federal funding to Victorian schools over the next six years. The federal government has only committed to funding the first four years of the deal.

Under the Gonski model, each student is allocated a base level of funding, with loadings for disadvantage and disabilities.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch deputy president Justin Mullaly said schools looked forward to finding out how much Gonski funding they would receive for the years ahead. This would help them plan, he said.

Education Minister James Merlino said the Andrews government was working with schools to "repair the damage" and support students, families, principals and teachers.

"The department's investigations into the Gonski agreement are currently underway and in fulfilment of the Andrews Labor Government's commitment to transparency, a breakdown of state and federal funding against the Gonski agreement will be released shortly. The release of this information is part of our commitment to giving Victorian schools the support they need and ending the neglect set in train by the previous Liberal Government."