Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Embarrassing Back-down

In a huge slap in the face to Pyne and Abbott, The government has dropped its plan to allow universities to set their own fees from next year, and will go back to the drawing board on higher education reform.

Any changes to university fees will now come into effect in 2017 at the earliest, after the next federal election.
With only three months left in 2015, it is necessary to give both universities and students certainty about what the higher education funding arrangements for 2016 will be," Senator Birmingham will say in a speech leaked by him to the media to the University of Melbourne. ( Labor has been saying since the bill was kicked out of the senate last time that the higher education sector now needed certainty not just another attempt to bludgeon through the old legislation) This is a major win for the cross benchers in the senate who held firm and to Labor, Senator Carr.
Now it is up to Labor and the cross-benches to maintain the pressure on this government, highlight their lies prior to the last election and promote Labor's policy for higher education.This is just a delay( a big one but a delay nonetheless) it is important to continue to highlight this bad (sleeping) legislation which they might reintroduce if they get a friendly senate.

...........and despite this, our universities are still world class

Experimenting with Odysseus's ship

Today I experimented making a Greek style ship ( inspired by illustrations from Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy) with moving oars. It didn't work very well but I got an idea from a blog which I experimented with today.
I drew the ship and created a sliding device for the oars. That was a bit tricky. On prototype 1 the slide was too tight, on #2 I was too messy with the glue but I got #3 right.I also sketched Odysseus to be tied to the mast.The sail can be added on later and it can lift up so you can see Odysseus with a caption of the back of the sail telling what is happening.
The kids will need to color it all in first before it is put together. 
Step by step ( sort of ) photos below.
Cardboard and split pins ( or brass fasteners)
Making the slider.
Putting in 4 split pins pointing outwards.
Sketching the boat and cutting a slit in the side for the oars.
Glue slider onto the back.
Decorate the ship and attach the oars.
The oars should slide across but my slider was too tight so it didn't work.
Sample #3 which worked and printables I've prepared for making the boat which I will scan into the Percy Jacksons/Odysseus unit.

I also created a time dial or time spinner (Not sure what to call it, for Percy Jackson)
Sample below.

I will add some blank scene in case the kids want to choose there own.
It was a long day at work. I still have a couple of hours of work to do before next week and then it will be back for a very busy term 4.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Gonski funding - AEU response

Victorian schools have not had the resources they need to fully deliver the programs and support students need and deserve after the former Liberal State Government cut more than $600 million from public schools.

They failed to deliver on their promise to deliver the needs-based 'Gonski agreement'. 

That is starting to change with this funding announcement by the new State Government, but now we need a long-term commitment to the needs-based plan by both state and federal governments. And together we’ll get it.

See how your hard work has paid off by using our public school search tool. You can also send a message to your school's Victorian Government MP and acknowledge this initial allocation of funding and ask them to deliver on the full Gonski needs-based agreement through to 2019.

Celebrating the Freedom to Read: Sept. 27- Oct. 3, 2015

Banned Books Week ( More of an American thing than here in Australia) 
Link to their site:

Resources that can be downloaded
Also check out the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund site
According to Judy Blume...

Judy, who was listed by the US Library of Congress in the living legend category of writers and artists in 2000, also expressed concern about hearing of writers being “dis-invited” from US schools and universities for things they have written or said. “This can be over one incident in a 400-page book,” she said. “I thought the idea of education was to exchange ideas and discuss. How we learn from one another?” Nonetheless, she’s optimistic that this fearful attitude can be fought against. She has already seen professors and teachers standing up to it.

One thing Blume adamantly doesn’t want to see is a return to 1980s America, which was the worse period she has witnessed for freedom to read, and when controversial books were stripped out of classrooms. She believes there has been a return from the precipice of the Reagan era, yet there are still attempts to exert too much control. She referred, very enthusiastically, to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which has also caused a stir and was pulled from the curriculum in Idaho schools. What’s the problem with it I ask? “The language, the sexuality, all things related to life as a teenage boy. It’s like saying it’s a bad thing to be a teenage boy!”

“It’s the kids’ right to read,” she said resolutely as our conversation came to a close and she prepared to continue her whirlwind tour. It’s a mantra she’s been repeating for decades. At 77 and still as dynamic as ever, she shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

This is too true....

Monday, 28 September 2015

It's all about why didn't I think of that?

New curriculum to boost phonics focus
Education ministers want a greater focus on phonics in teaching reading but it remains to be seen how it will trickle down to the classroom.

The revised and 'rebalanced' national curriculum will be unveiled in mid-October after education ministers from all jurisdictions agreed to its release.

It includes streamlining subjects taught in primary schools, strengthening references to Western influences on Australian history, and boosting the teaching of phonics.

Ministers also agreed to teacher training changes to make sure all educators are well-prepared to teach phonics.

But it will be up to each state and territory how and when to integrate the national curriculum into their individual syllabus.

New South Wales, for example, has indicated it won't be making changes immediately, curriculum expert Stewart Riddle says.

The State Government released a new guide just two weeks ago, which Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said gave every NSW teacher the tools to teach students to read using phonics.

"What's in the curriculum isn't necessarily what's happening in classrooms anyway," Riddle, from the University of Southern Queensland, told AAP on Tuesday.

"We have a really diverse range of approaches that are going on and some of them don't work as well as others."

There is already a strong emphasis on phonics in the national curriculum and Dr Riddle says it's hard to say how much is enough.

He advocates a balanced approach to teaching reading, where phonics is combined with understanding how words are formed, syntax and grammar.

"If you think about it like reading is a puzzle, it's about getting all the pieces together," he says.

"If you privilege one aspect of that over the others, then what does that do in the long run?"

Riddle is worried a bigger problem is not the initial teaching of reading, but how to help older primary and high school students who are still struggling.

Their difficulty is in comprehension and phonics won't fix that.

"It isn't just the nuts and bolts of getting words off the page, it's understanding them," he says.


- "Phonics" covers a range of methods for teaching reading by looking at the sounds that make up words

- Broadly speaking, it can be divided in synthetic or analytic phonics

- Currently more emphasis in national curriculum on synthetic phonics

- Synthetic phonics is construction of words - first you learn the sounds of letters and groupings of letters then recognise those in words and build them up

- Analytic phonics is more deconstruction of words by recognising sounds within them.

Military ceremony in Buangor

Buangor host impressive military ceremony for WW1 hero.

General Sir Cyril Bingham Brudenell White led Australian forces in World War I and is credited with planning the successful withdrawal of 35,000 soldiers from Gallipoli, in which not one was injured.

His legacy has been renewed in Buangor, near Ararat, with a rededication of his grave not far from where he ran a farm after returning from the battlefield.

About 200 people attended, doubling the town's population for the day.

Sir Brudenell White's grandson, Tim White, said it was important his legacy was not forgotten almost 75 years after his death.

"I feel very proud, sort of humbled ... just a real good feeling," he said.

"It's the sort of memory we want to try to revive because a lot of this is starting to slide into the background ... if you let it go it never comes back."

Sir Brudenell White retired to his pastoral property after returning to Australia after World War I but was coaxed out of retirement by then prime minister Robert Menzies, who asked him to lead the country's World War II effort.

But he was killed in 1940, when a plane he was travelling in with three Menzies government ministers crashed en route to Canberra.

His death was a great loss to the nation. ( He would have made a far more impressive wartime leader than Thomas Blamey) The air crash has been written about recently in a book by Andrew Tink called Air Disaster Canberra. He believes one of the Ministers on the plane, Fairburn,who fancied himself as a pilot took control of the plane which led to the crash.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Mmmmm I've known a few who do

I'll be up at work again on Wednesday, meanwhile I have some holiday reading to catch up on....

Young Adult books.....old adults should read?

The Buzz Feed suggests young adult books that old me should read. Their lists starts with Little Women. ( which is promising) Interesting to see that the book we are currently reading as a serial at school is there along with one I'm thinking of reading next year ( refer below) In fact there are loads of books we have studied at Glen Park on this list.......including Little Women.

Interesting story about the future of education in Australia. 
I fully agree with these sentiments:

If the US experience is illustrative, following this same ‘private is good, public is bad’ formula in education will lead to an increase in testing regimens and test-focused curricula as schools increasingly compete.Enormous corporations will run mediocre charter schools across the nation, which will be part of a widespread but failing school choice program. There will be a devaluing of the public sector for education and further socio economic-based segregation of schooling and society.Our hope is that we also avoid the onerous inspectorate model of England!

Concerns about the Chaplaincy Program in NSW Schools.

Australia's Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has written to the Baird government expressing concern that the national school chaplaincy program could be detrimental to gay and lesbian students.

Mr Wilson's letter to NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli was written just days after the Gayby Baby furore erupted in Sydney.

Mr Piccoli issued a memo to schools asking them not to screen the film during class time on Wear It Purple day.

In the letter, Mr Wilson asks for a review to be conducted of complaints made about chaplains to assess whether inappropriate advice is being given to young gay and lesbian students.

Under Abbott government rules, only religious chaplains can be appointed to schools, after secular counsellors were banned from receiving funding.

But Mr Wilson said the survey had found "many religious youth reported feeling that their sexual orientation or gender identity is at odds with their religion".

He is concerned this may be preventing gay and lesbian students from accessing important counselling services.

The school chaplaincy program in NSW is dominated by Generate Ministries, which lodged a submission to an Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into religious freedom stating homosexual activity is "a serious sin". The department has put out a tender seeker a broader range of school chaplain providers.

Read more: 
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

Interesting graphic

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Worrying data on bullying

From the Age Education Facebook page

One in five children are bullied at least once a week, causing stress-related health problems, with those with a disability the most vulnerable, according to a landmark study.
The national survey of 5500 children aged 9 to 13 highlighted the significant gap in wellbeing between mainstream kids and those who have a disability, are Indigenous, are young carers or from poor backgrounds.
Thirty per cent of children fall into one or more of these marginalised groups, and they rate their health worse, are less happy at school and have lower levels of family cohesion than their peers. Children with a disability are the worst off overall.
"There is a lot of diversity in wellbeing among young Australian children," Flinders University associate professor Gerry Redmond, who led the study, said. "We need to focus on why some children are doing a lot less well than others."
The gap between marginalised and mainstream kids is particularly pronounced by the time they reach year 8.
The Government-funded Australian Child Wellbeing Project surveyed children in years 4, 6 and 8 from 180 schools. Students were asked about their family, living arrangements, school, health, friendship, material wellbeing and bullying. It is the first national survey of children in the middle years, and the findings will be presented at the Australian Social Policy Conference on Monday.
Overall, most children report high life satisfaction and are optimistic about their future. More than 90 per cent of children are in good health. Children nominated family as the most important factor for having a good life, followed by health and friends. Those with a big support network were healthier, more engaged with school and less likely to be bullied.
However, some children are struggling more than their peers. One in five kids report being bullied once a week, with year 4 students experiencing the highest levels of bullying. Bullying included being ignored, being teased, having lies told about them, and people ganging up on them.
Children from marginalised groups were more likely to be bullied, and those with a disability the most bullied of all. The more often children are bullied, the more likely they are to miss school.
"I get the impression, talking to teachers, that this kind of non-physical bullying, like exclusion and telling tales, is extremely difficult to counter," Professor Redmond said.
Sixty per cent of all children who were bullied reported two or more health issues, including frequent headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, feeling nervous, or having difficulty going to sleep. These complaints are often symptoms of stress.
A quarter of young people have a family member who has a disability, chronic illness, mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction. These young people experience significantly more health complaints than their peers.
"These health problems may be associated with worries about their family, and their direct caring responsibilities," Professor Redmond said. "They're worrying about these things that are normally seen as adult issues."
Mainstream kids score an average life satisfaction of 85/100, while marginalised children score between 64 and 70. Similarly, mainstream children have a health score of 90/100, compared to marginalised kids, who score between 72 and 81.
Professor Redmond said his study provided the hard evidence policy-makers and schools need to act to better help these kids. "Young people in these groups are marginalised, but they actually comprise a large proportion of all young people," he said.
"This should give policy-makers extra impetus to reduce the disadvantage they experience, and improve their lives."
Read more:@theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

Another huge elite private school expansion- worth $63 million

St Catherines new $69 million development
 The oldest independent girls' school in Australia is in a battle with local councils, residents and NSW Police over its $63 million expansion plans for a 500-seater "world-class auditorium", aquatic centre, research facility and multi-purpose hall. 
St Catherine's School, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, is seeking to increase its student numbers by 25 per cent in its submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. 
The development application currently does not adequately address these issues. 
The development includes......wait for it- a swimming pool, shallow pool, water polo and diving facilities, as well as an orchestral pit and a fly tower for state-of-the-art theatre productions where 120 events are expected to be hosted each year.  
Data from the MySchool website reveals that the Waverley school has already breached its student cap by more than 20 students, generating an extra $700,000 in revenue per year, while also garnering up to $2.8 million in donations for the development. The school has a total net-recurrent income of $27 million per year. 
A submission to the Planning Department from NSW Police argues that residents will be adversely and unreasonably impacted by the proposed development on the 23,000-square-metre site, along with the increase of 200 students over a 15-year period. 
"The development application currently does not adequately address these issues," wrote NSW Police Traffic Sergeant Luke Barrett. 
Waverley Council's submission states that the development "substantially breaches height and development standards" of the local environment plan.
Both the local council and police state that the development should be contingent on St Catherine's building a 200-space car park to alleviate congestion.
St Catherine's has offered 19 spaces. 
In its response to the recommendations last month the school – which charges students $27,000 a year – said it would tweak the timetabling of events, ensure that they were school-only, stagger finish times and encourage car pooling. 
Resident Cathy Davitt said that the school had been "arrogant" in its consultation with the community and that the latest concessions did not go far enough.  
"Their whole idea of community is [skewed]," she said. "We have barely been consulted by the school on these huge.
"I just think they have no idea of the impact this has on local residents. They have shown no intention of alleviating any of these concerns." 
St Catherine's is the latest in a line of rapidly expanding private schools to fall foul of residents.
In July, Scots College in Bellevue Hill failed in its legal bid to expand its student numbers by almost a third after residents accused it of "development by stealth", while Trinity Grammar in Summer Hill has drawn condemnation from residents for constructing a new multimillion-dollar school hall, gym and car park facility.
St Catherine's has been asked by the Department of Planning to clarify how many students are currently allowed on campus. Its application is currently in the assessment stage. 
The school declined to comment on why it has breached its student cap, how it plans to alleviate residents' concerns or whether it had any intention of building parking spaces as recommended by Waverley Council and NSW Police.
Sad for the residents but let's not forget that this extremely rich school is planning a $63 million expansion! I can only imagine what nearby state secondary schools could do with that type of money. How much tax payer funds is part of that $63 million? And of course that is the planned expenditure, it is bound to increase substantially.
From the Sydney Morning Herald
 Read more:

A serious investigation needed into private vocational training

From the ABC news online

One of Australia's largest providers of private vocational training, Evocca College, is facing a potential class action from hundreds of former students.

Solicitor Benjamin Kramer is preparing to file documents on behalf of former Evocca College students.

He will allege the private company breached Australian consumer law by providing sub-standard courses and using unfair marketing tactics to sign students up.

"I've been blown away by how many people have been forthcoming with their own experiences and their own claims of how they've felt they've been wronged by the school," Mr Kramer said.

Evocca largely offers diploma courses in business, information technology, community services and travel, tourism and events.

Its average student loan in 2013 was $16,878.

Its business model depends on the VET FEE-HELP funding system, where private training providers receive government funding and students incur a HECS style debt that they are not forced to repay until they earn more than $53,000.

Figures released to a Senate Committee last month show just 32.9 per cent of Evocca College students graduated between 2011 and 2014.

Mr White said that the completion rate is almost 9 percentage points higher than the industry average, and the vast majority of its students are satisfied with their course. (9% completion rate is considered good!)

Earlier this year the ABC revealed allegations from former Evocca staff and students about unethical practices and low graduation rates.

Two weeks later the federal government announced regulatory changes to the vocational training sector, including banning incentives to students like free laptops and tablets.( I wonder if our new minister will investigate further into the private training sector? I won't hold my breathe! Meanwhile TAFE is still struggling.)

A boy sits reading a book from a bombed out book shop during the blitz.( Hopefully he wasn't shot for looting)

Friday, 25 September 2015

The many ways Christopher Pyne and the government failed in education over 2 years

From 'The Conversation'

Last Sunday’s cabinet reshuffle, Christopher Pyne moved out of Education and Training and into the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio. Pyne’s time in education included a review of the Australian Curriculumand teacher education. He also shifted the view of higher education from a public to a private good.

Pyne said he was “proud of the achievements” of the last two years. But in a school-style “report card”, education researcher Keith Heggart acknowledged Pyne’s efforts but awarded him failing grades for his policies.

Pyne’s policies were underpinned by liberal values of the free market, autonomy and education as a private commodity. Why did they attract such opposition?

Fixing schools and teachers

Pyne came to the education portfolio on the back of Labor reforms such as the Gonski school funding review and roll-out of the Australian Curriculum.

Pyne retreated from Gonski and rebranded school reform as “Students First”. This included a focus on teacher quality, school autonomy and “strengthening” the curriculum. In January 2014, Pyne announced a review to:

… evaluate the robustness, independence and balance of the Australian Curriculum.

The review process was contentious and politically motivated. It reignited and cemented Pyne’s place in the culture wars.

On Friday, in one of his final actions as minister, Pyne announced the changes to the curriculum that would be adopted from the review. He said these changes would tackle overcrowding, boost the teaching of phonics and strengthen references to Western influences in Australia’s history.

Pyne’s push for more recognition of “Judeo-Christian heritage” and getting back to basics is out of step with the 21st-century Australia that the new Turnbull government is pitching.

While the New Colombo Plan and the focus on language teaching were to strengthen ties to Asia, the recent changes to the curriculum scrap Asian perspectives. These changes are a step backward, which sidelines the Indigenous knowledge and multicultural values needed for an inclusive global community.

In the teacher education reforms announced in February, there is an emphasis on improving teacher quality through increased testing and regulation. A modest amount of funding will support this increased scrutiny. But there is no investment in resources or support for future teachers.

University fee deregulation

Pyne’s free-market vision for higher education is the policy that drew the most criticism and public protest. In May 2014, Pyne outlined a “new vision for higher education” based primarily on fee deregulation. He said that:

Freeing universities to set their own fees, rather than having them dictated by government, will encourage competition between higher education institutions – and that means better courses, better teaching and more competitive course pricing. It will result in a greater focus on students than ever before in Australia.

This vision of competition equals better products met stiff opposition. The policy was one of the big-ticket items of the Abbott government’s first budget. It was a hard sell, with many ramifications for past, present and future students. The policy was poorly developed and communicated.

The Senate has blocked the changes twice. And despite Pyne claiming he had the sector on his side, organisations such as Universities Australia have a long list of conditions.

On Monday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Labor’s higher education policy. It looms as a a key battleground for the next election.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged the need to face the “political realities” of the Senate’s opposition to fee deregulation. This has opened the door to further concessions that move away from Pyne’s vision.

Future vision for education

Innovation through science and technology and investing in teacher quality – not just regulating – are important agendas for education. But the transformative potential of school and higher education to prepare Australia for the 21st century requires an alternative vision.

New Education Minister Simon Birmigham was previously the assistant minister for education and training. Last Sunday, he said he looked forward to “working collaboratively” to “build broad support for any future reforms”. These comments indicate an opportunity to nimbly rework the education vision.

Pyne’s legacy in education is a little shaky. Many policies are yet to play out and others have stalled.

What is needed now is a vision of education as more than a private, market-driven product. It is a public good. And the innovation, industry and scientific achievements in Pyne’s new portfolio will come on the back of investment in quality education across all sectors.


Far from flattering review of Pyne's biography ( which I still haven't located in any of Ballarat's book stores. I don't want to buy it, I want to relocate it to a more 'suitable' section in the shop.

Blow your mind

Interesting story about starting school blogs

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Have you ever read anything so stupid?

Sanity however prevails
Keep Calm poster
And another response.....
Or this one.....

Another busy day

Today I popped up to work and finished my Carbonel unit for late October and I'll finish off my shipwreck adventure unit with Sinbad and my now complete Swiss Family Robinson unit.
Archibald Prize exhibition starts in Ballarat next month
Our bulbs are looking good. We should have a great show of color in the garden when the kids come back.

It has all the hallmarks of Pyne and Abbott!

From today's ABC online

Environmentalists and teachers are up in arms over a new Federal Government anti-radicalisation kit that links green activism and "alternative music" to terrorism.

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Terrorism Michael Keenan launched the Radicalisation Awareness Kit in the form of a 32-page booklet on Monday.

Through a series of examples and fictitious case studies, the booklet aims to illustrate the circumstances which can lead young people to become radicalised.

But one surprising example cites the power of the alternative music scene and environmental activism in the radicalisation process.

The case study in the 'Violent Extremism' section tells the story of a girl called 'Karen' who becomes involved in the "alternative music scene, student politics and left-wing activism" when she leaves home.

Read more on the ABC:

Remember those -'If you can read this, thank a primary school teacher' bumper stickers?


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Nose to the grindstone

I popped up to work early this morning. Just missed some kangaroos. I'll have to be very careful along Springs Road.
 I finished off my Greek helmet sample.( The kids will do a better job I'm sure) I also finished off my Swiss Family Robinson unit. 
Tomorrow I'll put the finishing touches to my Carbonel unit. Our tulips are starting to look lively. Our wattle trees are vibrant...not good news for hay fever sufferers.
Kangaroo on the way to work.

Some of the work I prepared today.

Greek helmet ( Hades helmet for Percy Jackson unit)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Maybe change is on the way?

Media reports out this morning say that the new Education Minister Simon Birmingham has said he’s considering the future of the plan. He told the media that “we must make sure that we… talk to the crossbenchers as well as the university sector, business and industry and see what they all accept as being priorities.”

Up at work
I thought I'd need about 4 days up at work these holidays. I've done 2 and a half ( Left early today to have lunch with some colleagues) Today I started work on a Swiss Family Robinson unit ( and finished my Odysseus unit yesterday) and started doing the paper mâché needed for my Greek soldier's helmet.( Photos below) I have another day of jobs to finish tomorrow and another day next week.
Drying outside on the tank stand.

Glen Park taken from the White Swan Reservoir 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Not convinced

Australia’s “Christian heritage’’ will be taught in schools in a slimmed-down national curriculum that focuses on phonics to improve children’s reading.

History and geography have been scrapped as stand-alone subjects, in a back-to-basics return to traditional teaching.

But 21st-century computer coding will be taught in primary school, starting in Year 5, in the new curriculum endorsed by Australia’s education ministers yesterday.

Indigenous issues have been cut from parts of the curriculum, and students will no longer be taught about Harmony Week, National Reconciliation Week, or NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week.

Students will continue to learn about Australia Day, Anzac Day and National Sorry Day. The Year 6 study of the contribution of “individuals and groups” to Australian society will no longer include a reference to indigenous people or migrants, and will be confined to the post-Federation period.

The existing requirement to study Australia’s connection to Asia has been deleted from the new curriculum.

Australia’s “Christian heritage” will be taught for the first time, in lessons on “how Australia is a secular nation and a multi-faith society’’. Teachers will instruct students that Australia’s democratic system of government is based on the Westminster system, although specific references to the monarchy, parliaments and courts have been removed from the curriculum.

For the first time, children in Years 1 and 2 will be taught to “practise strategies they can use when they feel uncomfortable or unsafe’’.

Students in Years 7 and 8 will be taught to “communicate their own and others’ health concerns’’.

But education ministers agreed yesterday to change the curriculum again, to introduce teaching of “respectful relationships’’.

Teachers will also be given training to identify students who might be victims of family violence.

Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones, who proposed the domestic violence strategy, said a recent spate of violence against women showed that children needed to be taught about respectful relationships at school.

“We believe there’s a real opportunity in the health and physical education curriculum in regards to teaching about respectful relationships, to reduce domestic violence and give young people a greater understanding of gender equality,’’ she told The Weekend Australian after the phone hook-up yesterday.

“We also want to provide teachers with additional support in recognising signs of family violence.’’

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the changes would resolve “overcrowding’’ in the primary school curriculum, boost the teaching of phonics and strengthen references to Western influences in Australia’s history.

He said state and territory ministers would develop a national strategy to get more students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at school.

Ministers yesterday endorsed a digital technologies curriculum, that will start teaching students about computer coding in Year 5, and have them programming by Year 7.

But Ms Jones said the states and territories had not agreed to make STEM subjects compulsory in high school. “Even if we wanted to, we don’t have the teachers to do that in Queensland right now,’’ Ms Jones said.

A national curriculum for languages — Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese — was signed off by ministers yesterday.

They also endorsed historic reforms to teacher education, prepared by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

From next year, new teaching graduates will not be allowed into classrooms until they pass a test ranking them in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy.

Universities will also be forced to publish the academic and other “backdoor’’ requirements for entry to teaching degrees, to raise standards in the teaching profession.

AITSL chairman John Hattie — who took part in the ministerial meeting — said the changes would bring teaching closer in line with professions such as engineering and medicine.

“We have to make it very clear to people considering a teaching career that if you’re dumb you can’t be a teacher,’’ he told The Weekend Australian.

“We need to worry considerably about the students in the classroom and the quality of the person standing up in front of them.’’

Mr Pyne said he was “absolutely delighted’’ the states and territories had backed the reforms, which have been driven by the federal and NSW governments.

“The national literacy and numeracy test will provide greater employer and community confidence that beginning teachers entering our schools have the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to carry out the intellectual demands of teaching,’’ he said.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Robert Randall said the new curriculum would give teachers more time to teach the basics of maths, literacy, science and history in primary school.

“We’ve strengthened the focus on the basics and put in detail about phonics in the early years because of its importance to developing young people’s reading ability,’’ he told The Weekend Australian.

Mr Randall said the existing curriculum had so much detail that “teachers were feeling they had to do everything’’.

“It’s important to be able to focus on the content and teach it in depth — we don’t want cramming,’’ he said.

“This gives teachers the flexibility to identify what young people need to know about, and what they’re interested in.’’

Mr Randall said the new curriculum had a greater focus on Western civilisation.

“Historically, the influence of the Christian church has been important,’’ he said.

Mr Randall said that references to indigenous culture, environmental sustainability and Asia — which are included throughout the existing curriculum, including in maths — had been cut back to “where they naturally fit’’, with an emphasis on history, geography and art.

Maybe not just in the ACT

From today's Age

Recently the Principal of a Canberra school was 'sacked' when an investigation found that a child was restrained in a classroom in a purpose built cage. I blogged about it at the time. Inn this story by Hennrietta Cook of the Age allegations are being made about the use of cage in a Victoria. special school and restraints in a Melbourne school. The Department is investigating.
Children were allegedly locked in cage-like structures at a Victorian special school and restrained with straps at another, triggering separate investigations by the Education Department.
A consultancy hired by the department is investigating practices at Bendigo Special Developmental School to determine whether there is "a risk of danger or risk of inappropriate treatment" for students.
A separate probe by an independent education consultant is examining complaints raised by parents at Monash Special Developmental School.
The investigations follow revelations that a cage was built in Canberra classroom for a 10-year-old autistic boy.
Disability advocate Julie Phillips has received reports from former staff, parents and visitors at Bendigo Special Developmental School that children were placed in a cage-like structure in a classroom up until 2011.
She suspects the cage in the classroom was dismantled in 2013 but said other cage-like structures in the school's playground still exist.
Ms Phillips said staff at the school were trained by martial arts experts and used pressure points to move students.
"Unfortunately, staff and parents who have spoken out against these practices at both these schools have been subjected to significant victimisation," she said.
Ms Phillip said she was concerned the department's investigation would protect staff accused of abusive practices ahead of students.
"This has been reflected in their refusal to investigate abuses that occurred in the past, no matter how severe."
Jessie Allen pulled her son Justin out of Bendigo Special Developmental school in 2015 after he became withdrawn and unhappy.
He came home with bruises in 2012 and the following year told his mum there was a cage-like structure in the classroom and outside.
"He assumed they were for puppy dogs and then realised they were for children."
He recently told his mother that he was locked in a structure that "looked like a cubby house but with no windows" in the playground.
"He has to live with this for the rest of his life," she said.
Bendigo Special Developmental School principal Julie Hommelhoff said there were no cages at the school. 
"I fully welcome this independent investigation and the school is fully co-operating with this important process."
The department said it commissioned an investigation into Bendigo Special Developmental School following concerns by disability advocates.
"A comprehensive investigation into practices at Bendigo Special Developmental School is under way," a spokeswoman said. 
Ms Hayes complained to the department after a teacher sent her photos of her twin sons being restrained with straps in a stroller and chairs at the school.
"The photos did not lie," she said. "I'm really distressed about it still. It has affected myself and my boys."( Similar claims were made about students at the Ballarat Special School being restrained)
The Andrews government recently appointed a "principal practice leader" who will report to the Senior Practitioner to reduce the use of restrictive practices in schools.
Under a new state government initiative, teachers will have to report every time they restrain or seclude a child to control their behaviour. 

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Bizarre approach to classroom management which seems to be trending in the US ( Can it be far away from here? I hope not!)
Read this article from Blogger Blair Turner. She starts off like this:
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend in classroom management. It’s usually called a “game” – students vs. teacher. I see this “game” popping up in classrooms and across the internet more and more. And it makes me so very sad on so many levels......

The Oppositions new Higher Education Policy

Labor Party Correspondence to members ( Bill Shorten Labor Leader)

If you work hard and get good marks you should have the opportunity to go to university — no matter what your bank balance is.

With two in every three jobs of the future expected to require a degree, I want to see more Australians go to university. And importantly, finish university with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, not a debt sentence.

That’s why today I’ve announced Labor's positive plan for more graduates, not $100,000 degrees — because that's the investment our economy needs for the future.

Investing in education is the single most important thing we can do to maintain and grow Australia’s prosperity, and secure the jobs of the future.

That's why we will introduce a new Student Funding Guarantee that will see a greater investment in every student - $11,800 per student in 2018 compared with $9,300 under the Liberals.

You can read the full detail of our plan here. But this is my main point — unlike the Liberals, we will always ensure access to university is based on hard work and good marks, not someone’s ability to pay.

Because although we may have a new Prime Minister, we have the same old policies. Malcolm Turnbull has cut deals to get the job and he's already said he supports Tony Abbott’s plan for $100,000 university degrees. The only way we can stop $100,000 degrees is to change the government.

We can— along with our policy for 100,000 students to study science, technology, engineering and maths debt free — make sure students have a quality education that supports them to succeed and to build the high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future.

I made it clear in my first Budget Reply that higher education would be an election issue and today I delivered on my promise to you.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

New Minister

The new Federal Ministry is being announced. Pyne has been 'promoted' out of education. "Christopher Pyne will be appointed Minister for industry, innovation and science." ( Minister for innovation?) 
The new education minister was also announced: "Senator Simon Birmingham will be appointed the Minister for Education and training." His dubious claim to fame is that he told a conference that "Good, big data is the source of good decision-making in the future." He was also a guest speaker at the 2015 Christian Schools National Policy Forum at Parliament House.
He voted for de-regulation of university fees and user pays higher learning and increasing indexation on HECS debt. He is no 'small l' liberal and pain will continue to be felt in public education. I can't see any reversal to their decision about slashing funds to public education and fulfilling their broken Gonski promises.

First day of my holidays
I plan to spend 3-4 days at work these holidays. I have planned the first month back but I have a bit of admin to do including getting my head around the 'Framework for Improving Student Outcomes' It was a lovely spring day in Ballarat today and I took a few photos around the lake.

Another grim story from The Guardian Teachers page  ( From the Secret Teacher)