Saturday, 28 February 2015

Head of the Lake

They ran the Head of the Lake today. ( that's rowing) Ballarat High School races along with other local secondary schools. The Boy's Firsts came second and the Girl's Firsts tried really hard. 
It was the first of March today and the first day of Autumn and typical of Ballarat in Autumn around the lake today.( warm, then cold, then raining....all within about an hour!)
At the starting line
One of my daughter's friends and her crew.
My daughter was part of the cheer squad at the finish line.

The finish line.

Closing schools and raising cash! ( Thanks to Freedom of Information legislation)

Vacant Victorian schools are being sold to meet a $225 million sales target, which has been dramatically increased in recent years.

As part of an aggressive push to fund the Napthine government's infrastructure program, the target was increased sevenfold from $32 million in 2009/2010 to the current target. 

The former state government ordered the Education Department to ramp up its asset sales, despite being warned in a confidential briefing that Victoria's state school population was expected to grow by 37,000 students by 2021.

The sales targets are meant to be achieved over a four-year term, not annually. While the final tally of education land sold under the previous government is unclear, dozens of former schools across the state went under the hammer. The department exceeded its target at the end of the 2013/14 financial year, reaping $142.2 million from the sale of assets.

 A letter from former assistant treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips to former education minister Martin Dixon said the sale of surplus land was good for the state's finances as well as "freeing up capital to fund the government's infrastructure program" – only half of the sale proceeds are returned to the Education Department. 

The push was revealed in freedom of information documents obtained by Our Children Our Schools, an alliance of public education community campaigns, which described the sale of schools as "short-sighted".  

Our Children Our Schools spokeswoman Sonja Terpstra said she was concerned decisions about the future of schools were being driven by sales targets.

 "If the impetus is to cash in assets rather than proper provisioning, something is quite wrong.  The government will always be playing catch-up when provisioning for public schools if this is the case, and our kids are caught in the crossfire by being crammed into overcrowded schools and classrooms."

She also raised concerns about the government selling school sites to councils, who then sold them to developers for large profits. She referred to the old Bellfield Primary School in Ivanhoe, which was sold to Banyule council for $8.66 million and then sold to developer Stockland for $22.1 million.

The Grattan Institute's Dr Peter Goss said governments should be "very careful" about selling school assets or land that may be needed in the future due to rapid student growth.

"Especially given that it would probably be more expensive to reacquire it. Planning is a long-term game – a child born today would be starting primary school in 2020 and won't finish VCE until 2032."

A letter from former assistant treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips to former Education Minister Martin Dixon said the sale of surplus land was good for the state's finances as well as "freeing up capital to fund the government's infrastructure program".

The Andrews government said it was reviewing the former government's "land sales and acquisitions framework" and developing a new one.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister James Merlino said the Andrews government would regularly monitor residential growth, demographic changes and enrolment trends to ensure demand for schools was properly planned for and accommodated.  He said the government would spend $530 million rebuilding schools, including new schools in some of Victoria's fastest-growing areas.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling defended the sale of disused school sites, saying they helped fund new schools in areas of need. Abandoning the sale of disused buildings could result in vandalism and cost taxpayers, he said.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said disused schools should stay in the education portfolio. But she said if sold, the proceeds should be invested into education infrastructure.

I wonder what is being done with the old Learmonth and Windermere school sites? Those 2 schools, last time I heard were 'unstaffed'. Not sure what that means exactly?

There was a story and editorial in last week's Weekly Times implying that DET has been closing schools and not letting school councils make that decision ( Which has been policy for successive governments for 15 years.) I think sometimes there is a disconnect between governments and DET. Does beauracracy have a secret policy at a central or even regional level to close small schools? I believe there was school council consensus to close Windermere and Learmonth but DET at a regional level has never discussed in an open forum such as a regional directors meeting why the schools had to close and what being 'unstaffed' means. ( Of course in the old days unstaffed schools were not uncommon. My old school, Mount Wallace was left unstaffed through most of World War Two and reopened after the war. Somehow I don't think anyone anticipates these unstaffed schools ever reopening)In a previous post I published photos of Windermere PS but all that was left was the old building and a ramp leading to a BER building which has been removed, I believe to Beaufort. I also believe that it was removed unceremoniously. (The ugly facts about that are heresay) I haven't been to Learmonth since it 'closed'. 

These questions need to be answered and I'm glad to see The Weekly Times is following this up. There is no doubt that we have endured 4 years of inertia in education under the previous government and pressure put on from the Treasury to sell off 'surplus' land has been released through freedom of information which is of great concern and reminds me of the Kennett governments great school sell-off ( Which was a great financial success for ex- premier Bailleau. Mmmmm I wonder if anyone in particular has financially benefitted from $200 million plus sale of school land under the former government?)

We should not of course lose site of the big picture issue here ( I wonder if the Weekly Times will make this a crusade?) which is the yawning disparity in opportunity and performance of rural and regional students compared with those in metropolitan areas. the Auditor Generals report on this , released in April was damning on, in particular the last government and DET! The gap between rural and city kids is widening and a whole of government approach to this crises is required.( I have posted previously about the report and about the previous government and DET's lacklustre response to it) I have decided to take this up when I have the opportunity with DET ( My end of cycle review conference will be my next opportunity to do this) and my local members, one of whom is the new Agriculture Minister.

Below is the editorial from the Weekly Times

VICTORIA’s small rural towns risk falling apart without their schools.

Last week the Education Department confirmed it would “de-staff” Walpeup Primary School in Victoria’s Mallee, a school that has been operating for 102 years.

Walpeup’s six students will be forced to find a new school — the two closest are 20km and 30km away.

Other rural communities fear they could be next.

There were 18 schools in rural Victoria with 10 or fewer students last year.

School councils say, to their knowledge, decisions to de-staff or close small schools are made by school councils and not the department.

De-staffing small rural schools is a sneaky way for the department to close schools.

Without a functioning school, small towns cannot attract young families and their population numbers do not increase, so de-staffed schools never reopen.

Eight small schools in rural Victoria have closed in the past five years and another three schools have been de-staffed.

None have reopened.

The small towns of Stanley in the North East and Dargo in Gippsland have seen first-hand how a town crumbles when schools are de-staffed.

Small businesses struggle and houses can’t be sold.

The decision to de-staff or close a small school should be left up to the school council.

And there needs to be one clear and consistent policy to close small schools.

School with one or two families should have the same opportunities as schools with five or six families.

The State Government needs to offer small schools far more support because without them rural Victoria will suffer.

Worrying findings about student hopes for their future

Story from ABC online refer to their site to read the whole story:
Thousands of Australia's school students lack hope for the future and are not confident of getting a good job, according to a new poll measuring their levels of hope, wellbeing and engagement.

The Gallup Student Poll surveyed 7,300 students from years five to 12 in 31 schools across the country in an online census last September.

The results showed students became less enthusiastic about school over time, dropping 19 percentage points from year five to 12 and falling to its lowest point in year 10.

Gallup's Peggy Jasperson said year 10 was a big transition year and "there's a drop in engagement due to the increased demands of school over time".

Student levels of engagement 

  • Year 5 - 69 pc
  • Year 6 - 68 pc
  • Year 7 - 65 pc
  • Year 8 - 55 pc
  • Year 9 - 54 pc
  • Year 10 - 47 pc
  • Year 11 - 58 pc
  • Year 12 - 50 pc

Students' levels of hope, wellbeing and engagement

  • 48 pc hopeful about future
  • 37 pc stuck
  • 15 pc discouraged
  • 32 pc believe they will get a good job
  • 32 pc feel they received recognition/praise for good school work.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Jules Verne

After cleaning the school and organising a few resources for the early years students I spent a few hours developing my Journey to the Centre of the Earth unit up at work today. Next week  I'll be able to start a major classic science fiction unit to finish off the term.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth display board.
Hooray- 34 000  blog views!

Education updates

Cost of schooling

South Australia's private schools only achieve the same results as comparable public schools, despite spending almost $180 million more a year more on their students. Analysis by researchers Chris Bonner and Bernie Shepherd, prepared for Australian Greens Senator for South Australia Penny Wright, shows almost a quarter of government funding to private schools is in excess of what it costs to educate similar students in public schools. In fact nationally private schools are spending $3.3 billion more on their students each year than equally advantaged public schools, despite achieving the same academic results, a new report has found.

Competency Tests

Would-be teachers will be forced to pass rigorous new numeracy and literacy tests before they can get their degree and enter classrooms. News Corp Australia understands the federal government is planning to make all new graduate primary and secondary teachers prove they are capable of teaching maths and English by undertaking a mandatory new competency test from 2016.

Principal wellbeing

A reminder that the fourth year of the Principal Health and Well-being report by Dr Phil Riley has been released.Key findings from the report have shown that:

ü  The growing job complexity and lack of support means sheer quantity of work is the greatest source of stress facing Australian principals.

ü  Parents are the worst offenders when it comes to increasing threats of violence and bullying.

ü  Threats of violence occur at five times the rate and actual violence at seven times the rate of the general population.


Misty day this morning which eventually became a sunny end of summer day.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015


We had a praying mantis today clinging on to our school building. One of the students spotted it and we found some interesting facts about it and took photos with our iPads.
I've finished a Twenty Thousand Leagues under the sea unit and I prepared our display table this afternoon.( Yes that is a giant squid with a tentacle around a submarine) 
I've been bitten by the Jules Verne bug so I've started a unit on Journey to the Centre of the Earth. ( There is a great looking app for it but sadly it's in French) I'd love to read The Mysterious Island too but I haven't been able to find a good abridged version of it.
The kids have picked some carrots from the garden recently. I found a little yellow tomato too and our sunflowers look great.

De- registering schools that don't protect their students

Given ongoing revelations about systematic child abuse in private schools ( Amazingly the administrations of schools involved turned a blind eye to what was going on under their noses!) the new minister and DET have decided to get tough with schools that don't protect their students from abuse. 
This story was in the Age this morning

Victorian schools will be deregistered if they don't have policies to manage child abuse risks and respond to allegations.

Education Minister James Merlino will order all schools to have policies that meet minimum child safety standards or risk having their registration suspended or cancelled, following a recommendation from the Victorian inquiry into child sexual abuse,

The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority will also be given new powers to conduct "quick and targeted" reviews to ensure schools meet their obligations.

But the child safe standards for schools have not yet been developed – the Department of Education will begin consultations with stakeholders in coming weeks.


Mr Merlino said the reforms would prompt every school to look at what they could do to reduce the risk of child abuse.

"These changes will help keep our next generation in safe hands by making sure schools are equipped to respond and report appropriately when an allegation of child abuse is made."

Reforms making child abuse policies a condition of schools' registration will be introduced into parliament this week, followed by a Ministerial Order setting out minimum child safe standards.

Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals president Judy Crowe welcomed the changes but said state schools were already well ahead of other schools when it came to preventing and responding to abuse.

"Victorian principals have been trained in mandatory reporting for many many years. Even in cases where there are allegations that are far fetched, you have to notify the department."

Commissioner for Children and Young People Bernie Geary said too many people aware of child sexual abuse remained quiet.

"This is rightfully insisting that this becomes more than a moral obligation, it becomes a legal obligation."

Eleven of 15 recommendations from the Betrayal of Trust report still have not been implemented, including reviewing funding for education groups that work with children, to ensure minimum standards for a child-safe environment. Two of the 11 are before parliament.

Ultra-orthodox Jewish school Yeshivah College ignored and failed to keep records of victims' reports of sexual abuse, the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse revealed.

Rabbi Abraham Glick, the school's principal from the period that sex offenders David Cyprys and David Kramer were abusing students, told the commission he only introduced a policy for responding to child abuse allegations in 2007, despite being required to comply with mandatory reporting laws in Victoria since 1994.

Yeshivah College principal, Rabbi Joshua Smukler, did not respond by deadline to questions about the changes.

Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said everyone was responsible for the welfare of children and anything that served to remind people of their obligations was a good thing.

While Catholic Education executive director Stephen Elder said there was no higher priority in Catholic schools than child protection.

"Reassessing and strengthening protection of children in Catholic schools is ongoing and based around best practice rather than minimum standards."


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New performance plan

There is no doubt that the previous government's performance and development structure was a none to subtle prototype for a teacher performance pay structure. The new government, in keeping with their election promises has scrapped that plan and a new structure will be in place for the 2015-16 school year. DET released limited details about proposed changes to schools today ( below) together with a letter from the Minister. Some points from the email are below.

·         In response to feedback from the teaching and principal class workforce over the last year, some changes have been made to the 2014/15 Performance and Development model for principal class employees and teachers, with changes taking effect immediately. 

·         The changes seek to ensure that the process is further focussed on feedback to support development, and that assessments are based on professional conversations and judgements.

·         The changes have been made with a view to balancing stakeholder feedback and the need to minimise disruption to the current cycle.

·         These changes replace the requirements outlined in the relevant sections of the Performance and Development Guidelines for principal class employees and teachers.

·         Principals and teachers will receive a letter from the Minister of Education explaining the reasons for the changes to the Performance and Development process in the current cycle.

·         Modifications to the current 2014/15 Performance and Development cycle:

o   The four-point differentiated outcomes scale has been removed.

o   In exercising this professional judgement, reviewers will apply a three-point outcomes scale (Does not meet/Partially Meets/Meets) to each of the four dimensions to evaluate the extent to which Performance and Development goals have been achieved and those in which further development and support is needed.

o   The final Performance and Development outcome for staff is now binary: teachers and principal class employees will receive a final outcome of ‘Met’ or ‘Not met’ based on the professional judgement of the reviewer.

o   Reviewers may choose to use an updated Performance and Development outcome tool to help inform their professional judgement about the end-cycle assessment.

Completed tasks today.

Completed tasks today: early settlers huts, story maps and billy tea.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Making a Quadrama

Shelley Gray on her blog Teaching in the Early Years and contributing to Blog Hoppin posted instructions for making 'quadramas'. I've made these before in science and maths ( In maths we made one years ago for the four operations) but I've never made them for literature. I've called them Quadscenes in the past and will probably continue to use that term. ( I saw them in a long forgotten book and I think that is what they were called.) I made a sample today for my next theme on classic science fiction.

Fold a square sheet of card ( I used paper this morning but it is a bit too flimsy)
Cut along one of the folds as far as the centre.
Fold over one segment where you cut and apply glue.
Fold it over
And stick it down. it is hard to explain what to do but when you play around with it you'll work it out.
Make four of them.
This is where I went wrong. I should have thought about what I was going to do in each of the four scenes I was created before putting it together.....anyway I did. then I glued all 4 together. use lots of glue and the corner of a table to help with the gluing.

Now decorate each scene.( Painting the backgrounds was hard when it was already put together.)
As mine is literature based I'm going to have one scene for the characters, one for the setting, one for the story conclusion and one for the plot. You choose.
Below are the scenes I created for A Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Conclusion but it could have been the turning point in the story or the major conflict in the novel.
The settings.
looking forward to trying this in a few weeks.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Settlers Huts

The grade 5 kids are currently making story maps for The Boundary Riders.

They are also finishing off their settler's huts
Performance and Development

The AEU has discussions with both the Government and DET about the performance and development process, in the context of the election commitments received from Labor. The AEU and most principals have consistently opposed - the four-point rating scale, weightings and the separate student outcomes domain. They are  focusing on the 2014-15 cycle at present, given the need for DET to finalise any changes and provide advice to schools as soon as possible, as well as trying to minimise disruption. The union is aware that some schools are already developing their plans for the next 12 months, in accordance with the current guidelines. Their  advice to members is to progress slowly, pending any further changes to the model.

 Meetings with Merlino

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino attended the Joint Primary & Secondary AEU Sector Council meeting on February 13 to outline the Government's priorities for education. Council was particularly pleased to hear the Minister thank principals teachers and ES for the important work that they do and to confirm his promise to scrap the four-point scale as part of the revised P&D model for school staff. He also announced that there would be a specific line item in budgets for 2016 to indicate additional money as part of the Gonski schools funding agreement; and a restructure of regional offices to deliver more support to schools and principals. In response to questions about the loss of the Education Maintenance Allowance, Minister Merlino said that entitlement for its new targeted payments - to assist disadvantaged families with the cost of excursions and other school activities - would be the same as for the former EMA and paid directly to schools for each eligible child. The Minister said he would endeavour to have some of these funds reach schools before the end of the year.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Preparing new unit

I went up to school today for a few hours and completed a unit for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I'll work on one for The Time Machine next week.Along with The Lost World,  they'll form the basis of a classic science fiction unit next month.
My 'work station' this morning.
Some of the great graphic novel versions of the classic we'll be reading next month.

Cyclone Marcia has swept through Central Queensland and left a lot of damage and flooding in its wake. One of the places hit badly was Biloela. I taught in the primary school there between 1985-87. I noticed that they closed the school yesterday. I hope no serious damage was done and that all are well.

Childcare Report

Childcare experts and parents have been left scratching their heads at the Productivity Commission's long-awaited blueprint for childcare reform, arguing its proposed new funding system is too difficult to understand and that many families would be worse off under the plan. Support obviously needs to be 'mean's tested' even though the government in opposition used to reject that as 'the politics of envy' but things are always different in government.

One childcare sector representative told Fairfax Media the Abbott government would be "crazy" to implement the commission's report, which recommends that childcare funding is based on an hourly rate, benchmarked against the median price of various types of childcare. They argued this would see such a significant proportion of parents lose out. 

The report, released yesterday, also drew a lukewarm response from the peak childhood body, Early Childhood Australia. 

More information can be found in this Age article

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Wattle and daub huts

We have been learning about early colonial housing ( Bark huts and wattle and daub huts) so I thought we could use some of those techniques and air drying clay , balsa wood and sticks/ bark from outside to build some hut models of our own.

Our sun flowers are starting to bloom

This afternoon I visited the historic Bakery Hill Kindergarten at the suggestion of one of our parents who is a teacher there. This kindergarten was built in 1911.Bakery Hill Kindergarten's philosophy is based on the image of the child as “competent and capable.” The interests and experiences of the children inspire the program and the staff provide an environment in which children are supported as they enquire, invent and create. Bakery Hill Kindergarten is country Victoria’s first Kindergarten with a rich history and passionate community support.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Regional Directors Meeting

Regional Directors Meeting ( Principal Forum)
Matt Dunkley Regional Director

Introduced the new minister, secretary and branding ( DET rather than DEECD)
Minister Merlino and Deputy Premier is Minister for Education
Minister Herbert- VET/ training
Minister Mikakos - Early Childhood
Ministers are  very engaged in their new jobs, lots of briefings and energy.
Government called Victoria the Education State.
Immediate focus- delivery of promises and preparing the next budget. Dialogue by professionals  around the education state is  important. It is important for the profile of education in Victoria that the new minister is also the deputy premier.
Election Commitments include. ( funding over 4 years )
$50 million for kindergartens
$2 for music in schools
Mitigating the loss of the EMA will see 
 $160 million for school breakfasts, camps, glasses for needy children.
The Government is offering significant financial support for SSRC ( ( State School Relief Committee)
the government is determined to provide support for disadvantaged students.
TAFE rescue package $329 million
10 new tech schools $125 million with one of those to be located in Ballarat.
$32 m for LENS
The new government is interested in providing high quality education.They are concerned about the rising levels of disengaged youth and youth unemployment. ( over 20% in Ballarat)
Building works on top of new and upgraded kindergartens will include $520 million for new schools and upgrades for existing schools.DET is committed to the removal of asbestos from our schools.
There will also be a substantial TAFE rebuilding program.

Dunkley discussed concerns voiced by principals that they felt less supported from regional office.He acknowledged that the perception ( and reality) that autonomy had gone too far was a genuine concern.
The Minister wants to identity what support is required at a regional level before making adjustments ( de-merging clusters?) Minister seeking feedback on this.Dunkley said there was no agenda to go back to the old system. ( probably too expensive but I think needed) No desire for major restructure.
Dunkley reiterated that the Ministers want to put education at the heart of the community.
They want to prosecute a culture of high expectations and equity with a strong committed to early intervention.
The new government is committed to developing expert professional teachers and leaders and a substantial  investment in P&D. ( Changes possible in Principal/ teacher review process for 2015-16?)
The government wants to address disadvantage and transitions between learning and employment with a strong community focus on learning and engagement with parents - getting away from the previous government's proposed changes to school councils. 
Headland speech from the Minister due next month.

Network based data
Discussion about data confidentiality. 
( Data protocols)
Regional school improvement plan presented.
Data sets for the region were distributed and are not looking good.( But there is nothing new about that)
The data is about looking at trends and commonalities across schools.
Region intend to release 'like school' data - just like the old SLR or School Level Reports ...sigh
( Network specific data would be good) Again nothing new about Network specific data!
Schools will also get LGA - Local Government Area data which isn't very useful.
The data shows that our region falling behind in early childhood development.
The level of developmental delay causing a performance gap between the region and the state.
Attendance rates behind state levels especially in year 8-10!
Retention rate is lower than the state.
Writing data in our region is particularly poor and trending down from year 5.
Achievement in writing ( NAPLAN ) declining. It is comparable  to year 3 and then heads below the state in year 5,7 and 9.( I would argue that high school students don't take NAPLAN seriously and they should find another measure. It won't be teacher judgements because schools are now going it alone with reports! There's another data set gone)
Regions VCE scores continue to decline.
NOTE: our network ( Moorabool ) wasn't shown in the data set which is both perplexing and annoying!
East Grampians data was presented to us. This data contains a lot of information and we were asked to look at the literacy domain and to look for patterns emerging that could be a future focus and then to look at an area that requires a particular focus.
Writing data in our region is particularly poor and trending down from year 5.(Some high end students in year 5 might be lost to private schools that offer scholarships.) But it is of concern particularly as writing was identified at least  6 years ago as a problem ( Our Network at that time engaged in writing PD to help our schools in this area. We used our 'network specific data' to develop a plan to address the issue and got on with getting it done. we hired Lesley Wing Jan to run work shops and at leas2 curriculum days on it. k know I changed the way I did some things with positive results. I'm not sure about other network schools. Networks were abolished 4 years ago so I guess nobody will know for sure) and there is seemingly still no improvement.( I think we are relying too much on NAPLAN for our data. it is not infallible. Pity the last government didn't roll over our statewide QuickVic contract. From this year we won't have teacher judgements against AusVELS to use. More self-defeating cost cutting)

A regional conference ( 14th-15th May - which is NAPLAN week) has been organised and the agenda was briefly discussed. Marzano research ( higher reliability)will be a feature of the conference. The theme will be The Successful Schools Conference. I will have to remain at school to administer the NAPLAN test.The cost is also a prohibitive $500 plus travel, accommodation and 2 days of CRT funding.No funding support was offered.
I did not stay for the afternoon session.
Thanks to Alison Middleton who filled in for me this morning. She had a great day with the kids. 

Let's look back at those original broken promises

On pages 40 and 41 of the Real Solutions pamphlet the Coalition released prior to the last federal election ( not all that long ago) they made the following promises:

  • We will continue current levels of funding for schools, indexed to deal with real increases in costs and we will ensure that money is targeted based on the social and economic status of the community.

That unity ticket only lasted as long as it took to finalise the election results after which we were subjected to the greatest load of doublespeak resulting in the Coalition cutting funding for years 5 and 6 of the Gonski reforms, reneging on the signed deals with the states, and abandoning their co-funding and accountability obligations.

  • We will ensure the continuation of the current arrangements of university funding.

Obviously this was a non-core promise.

  • We will review and restructure government research funding to make sure each dollar is spent as effectively as possible.
Apparently, the most effective way research dollars can be spent is in stopping spending them so Treasurer Hockey’s bottom line looks healthier.
As we lurch into the unknown ( apparently the government's 'second wind' ) it is important for educators to remember these broken promises and hold the minister and prime minister who so wantonly made them in the pursuit of power to account.

What school lunches look like in different countries:
I like the Finnish and Spanish lunch. I could eat that every day!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


Today we completed our shaving cream painting koalas!
I prepared a template of a koala
Children sprayed shaving cream into a shallow tray and spread the cream out.

The kids added blobs of marbling ink ( food Coloring works well)
Then they spread the ink around to make a design.

They pressed the koala down on their pattern. they lifted it off and then they washed off the excess soap leaving a pattern.

The kids made a tree out of brown paper no added that to a green background. They made gum leaves from crepe paper and also added some paperbark to the tree ( with PVA glue)
The koala was added to the tree. One kid had his crawling along the ground.

We also completed pop up scene pictures for The Boundary Riders.

Monday, 16 February 2015

TAFE 'reforms' reality check

Victorian students who drop out of costly training courses are wasting more than $40 million in fees and government funding every year.

Serious doubts have been raised about the integrity of government-subsidised vocational program following revelations that job applicants are being targeted and pressured to sign up for courses by private colleges. 

Yet while enrolments and course fees have increased, state government figures show that only four in 10 students who started these short courses in 2013 have completed them. 

Average fees for diploma and advanced diploma students in the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme rose by 84 per cent between 2011 and 2014.

Fees charged to these students increased from $2.4 million in 2009 to $79.6 million last year.

"I'm particularly concerned some of this is online and third-party delivery with a lack of quality control," said Victorian Higher Education and Skills Minister Steve Herbert. 

To further add to the mess The Abbott government's plan to deregulate university fees would likely drive up inflation and drain billions of dollars from the budget over the long term rather than saving taxpayers money as originally intended, according to one of the nation's top economic modellers. Full story in today’s Age:


Zart Art Professional learning ( Hosted by Tania from ZART Art)

Wendouree PS


Tania talked about the new ZART catalogue for 2015

She showed us a variety of new products from ZART 

Including gelli printing plates, ceramic knives, coloured sharpies, wash brushes, smooth grooves crayons, graphite pencils, porcelain pens and new fiction book titles to support art theory.

It was a worthwhile PD. I picked up a few good ideas and I'll certainly order the gelli printing plate.

Pancake Day
I have forgotten Pancake Day for the last 3 years and this year was no exception. ( I don't know why? Maybe because I don't like pancakes.) Anyway, the advantage of storing cooking ingredients at school is that you can always 'knock something up' when necessary. So they didn't look very good but the kids liked them.
A big thank-you to Glenda today for popping in for an hour and working with one of the kids. She got some great results with her. She hopes to do some more voluntary work with her which will be great!


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Lorikeet's on display

Tomorrow the kids will start their koala pictures ( More information about that tomorrow when we get started.)

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Funding Fight Round 1

According to today's Age, the new state government is about to launch its attack on Pyne's Gonski funding 'slight of hand'.

The Andrews Government is headed for a showdown with Tony Abbott over schools funding, accusing Canberra of short-changing students and vowing to make the issue another pressure-point for the embattled Prime Minister ahead of next year's election.

In the latest sign of simmering state-federal tensions, Victoria has urged the federal government to "back off" from an earlier decision not to honour the final two years of the so-called Gonski funding deal, after figures revealed for the first time that schools would have benefited from an extra $4 billion had the Commonwealth stuck to the original agreement.

According to a damning Auditor-General's report released last week, Victorian schools would have been granted more than $1.4 billion in federal funds in 2018, and more than $2.5 billion in 2019 – if Canberra had adhered to the six-year deal secured under former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former state premier Denis Napthine.

Instead, the Abbott government only committed to four years, or $2.8 billion, between 2014-17 according to the report – far less than the schools bonanza provided in the final years of the Gonski agreement Victoria signed up to."He cannot be allowed to get away with cutting off years 5 and 6," state education minister James Merlino told The Sunday Age. "I absolutely do not accept that this is a fight that cannot be won. I'll be working closely with my state and territory colleagues. This is going to be a big part of the national debate over the course of the next two years and it should be a key part of the debate at the next federal election."

Mr Merlino's comments come as funding shortfalls continue to be a growing concern for parents, teachers, and principals. The latest Productivity Commission report on government services, for instance, confirmed that Victorian state schools still get the lowest government funding of schools in Australia – with each student receiving almost $2000 less than the national average.

The original intent of the Gonski reforms was to help schools by creating a needs-based funding model, where every student would get a base level of funds, with extra loadings for children who are poor, disabled, live in the bush, or come from indigenous backgrounds.

But while the former federal Labor government had promised to fund the scheme for six years – with money increasing substantially each year – the Abbott Government, after a series of policy shifts, only committed to four.

A spokesman for Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said state school funding over that period would increase by 32 per cent. "There are no cuts to Commonwealth Government funding to Victorian schools. Commonwealth government has honoured all its election commitments on school funding and funding is flowing as agreed," he said.

However, Australian Education Union state president Meredith Peace said parents would be "disturbed" to learn Victorians schools stood to gain almost $4 billion in additional funding – above and beyond enrolment growth funding, teacher salary increases and other areas that are usually paid for by governments – if only the original agreement been honoured.

"In our view, this has got to be a critical issue in the next federal election," she said. "There is growing inequality in this country and it is impacting on our student outcomes. Is Tony Abbott going to deny generations of students the opportunity to get a high-quality education? It's inexcusable." 

Link to an interesting article in the Age about the Finnish education system:

Friday, 13 February 2015


Popped up to work for a little while today.
We had a big storm last night and rain this morning but the nearby Springs Creek was pretty sedate.

Another regatta on the lake ( it's rowing season) 

Ballarat hosts a Rockabilly Festival every year and we popped I for a look. Lots of people dressed up like they just stepped out of an Elvis movie, food, cars, stalls selling all things 1950s and of course music.

I'd love a T- Bird!

Check out this interesting site:
also check out the Human Right's Commission Report into the 'Forgotten Children' at this ABC site: