Thursday, 30 June 2016

Vote for me!

Went up to work today to do some work on the new webpage prior to it going GLOBAL!
Cherie was very patient with me but I've already mucked it up!
I'll work on it some more over the weekend.
Just some work next week on our community newsletter.( I pick it up from the Printer today) check up on the Insight assessment site, get ready for visit with my SEIL and tidy up, reorganise the classroom a bit for next term and prepare student learning for the first fortnight back. We have a big excursion first week back and I have a big PD in Melbourne to attend.
Voting tomorrow and some private reading.
I also started up a Learning With Literature Facebook page.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Interesting memes from the Badass Teacher Association

Estonian success story

From the Atlantic Monthly

TARTU, Estonia—Most educators and policymakers can rattle off a list of international educational powerhouses: Korea,  Singapore,  Japan, and Finland.

But there’s an overlooked member of the list: Estonia. Even as educators from around the world flock to Finland to discover its magic formula, Estonia, just a two-hour ferry ride away, has not aroused the same degree of interest.

That could change if the country remains on its upward trajectory. In 2012, Estonia’s 15-year-olds ranked 11th in math and reading and sixth in science out of the 65 countries that participated in an international test that compares educational systems from around the world (called the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA).

In addition to beating out western nations such as France and Germany and essentially tying Finland in math and science, Estonia also had the smallest number of weak performers in all of Europe, about 10 percent in math and reading and 5 percent in science.  

Those numbers differ markedly from how the United States is performing, which continues to be stuck in the middle of the pack in all three subjects. More than a quarter of U.S. students were low-performers in math. But few people are asking what meaningful lessons we can draw from Estonia’s success. In fact, many U.S. researchers and educators argue it’s misleading and unhelpful to compare the United States to any top performing country because of demographic and cultural differences.

While there is less income inequality in Estonia than in the United States—and, with 1.3 million people, the country is significantly smaller—the Baltic nation also has its share of cultural diversity. When it achieved independence from the Soviet Union 25 years ago, Estonian became the official language and the language of school instruction. Yet about a fifth of its students come from families that still speak Russian at home, and they have historically lagged behind their native speaking counterparts on tests such as PISA.

Estonia’s performance on PISA isn’t in spite of its poor students; it’s because of them.
Though its students may come from diverse backgrounds, Estonia’s schools give them very similar educational experiences. In embracing students of all backgrounds and income levels, Estonia has succeeded not only on exams but on a goal that many policymakers, educators, and advocates say the United States must achieve: creating an educational system based on equity. The idea is a holdover from the Soviet era and one that the country intends to keep even as it continues to grapple with how to modernize its schools and further shrink the already small achievement gaps among its students.
As a result of this commitment, Estonia’s performance on PISA isn’t in spite of its poor students; it’s in no small part because of them.

“We have been able to keep education very even,” said J├╝rgen Ligi, the Estonian minister of education. “It has worked.”

On the 2012 PISA math exam, more than a third of low-income students were among the country’s top performers. Estonia had the second smallest gap in performance between its poorest and richest students out of all participating countries known as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Students in its lowest income quartile scored about as well as American students in the second highest income quartile.  

Marc Tucker, president of National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C., visited Estonia last year to find out what they’re doing right. He said that after the fall of the Iron Curtain other former Soviet satellites, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, transitioned to a system preferentially suited to the needs of its elites. Estonia, however, kept giving equal opportunities to students of all backgrounds.

“What [we] saw in Estonia was not a new education system, it was an old one,” Tucker said. “By every account they did not change the system after the wall came down…. It’s hardly surprising they continued to get great results.”

There are many factors that may contribute to Estonia’s success on PISA beyond their focus on equality. Education continues to be highly valued. Teacher autonomy is relatively high, which has been shown to be related to better test scores. Teachers stay with the same students in grades one to three – or sometimes even up to sixth grade - allowing deep relationships to develop. Many officials and educators say teachers here are good at supporting students and preventing them from getting off track, in contrast to the U.S., where teachers spend a lot of time intervening to help students who have fallen behind.  

But many educators said that an emphasis on giving everyone a similar educational experience is a crucial piece of the puzzle. “We really follow the straight line that everyone is equal,” said Karin Lukk, principal of Tartu Kivilinna Kool, a grade 1-9 school in Estonia’s second largest city. “It doesn’t matter what kind of family you come from, you can still achieve 

That approach starts at the very beginning. Early childhood education is free beginning at 18 months (when paid maternity or paternity leave ends). Everyone gets free lunch, meaning teachers might not know exactly what a child’s background is. College is free. Private schools, although an increasing threat to public education, are still a relatively small slice of the educational system. Estonian schools are often economically integrated, so poor and rich students are frequently in the same classrooms.

By comparison, in the United States, students do not get the same educational experience.  Quality of childcare and schools vary widely depending on income. Families with the most money often have access to the best child-care centers and most elite colleges. Schools are often segregated both by race and income, with poor students often having fewer resources and less experienced teachers.

The divisions for American students also occur within schools. A 2016 study by the Brookings Institute found that on average, states track three-quarters of eighth graders in math, meaning they might be put on a path in middle school that determines which level of math class they’ll end up in in their final year of high school. (The study found, however, that the more tracking a state does, the better the results for those that end up in the top tier of classes.)

But for students in the lower tiers, other research suggests tracking isn’t helpful.  In a 2015 study, researchers analyzing PISA results and responses on student surveys about what kind of math topics they are taught have discovered that students from less affluent backgrounds in all participating countries are taught less difficult math and typically perform worse on the assessment. They argue that “the weaknesses of their math coursework actually keeps [low-income] students from catching up.”

Estonia has the smallest gap out of OECD countries between low- and high-income students in the kind of math they are taught and one of the smallest gaps in performance. That 2015 study attempted to separate out how much the instruction a student receives in school contributes to their scores. If home life or other factors beyond a school's control were the sole determinant, researchers would have found no relationship. Instead, they found that, on average, in OECD countries, the students' diverse educational opportunities explained 33 percent of the difference in scores between low- and high-income students. In the United States it was 37 percent, while in Estonia it was just 16 percent.

According to the paper's co-author William Schmidt, the study's takeaway is that "inequality [in test scores] due to schooling in the U.S. does not have to be, as there are other countries in which the percentage of such inequality is much lower."

Estonian schools follow a national curriculum that dictates what students must cover in each subject each year through ninth grade. At that point, students decide whether to go to upper secondary school for three more years, where they focus on academics, or to vocational school to prepare for a specific career. Different schools may require different entrance exams, but students who want to go to upper secondary school almost always are able to do so, according to officials and educators.

Most students, roughly two-thirds, select upper secondary school, according to the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. In larger schools, they may also pick an area study – like science and mathematics or humanities. That choice is based on interest, though, not prior test scores or grades. And students still take a common set of courses that makes sure students have basic skills in all subjects.

Yet it’s up to the school to figure out how all the students attain this common skill set. Estonian schools are free to separate students however they want as long as they learn the same material in each grade. In the late 1990s, educators at Tartu Kivilinna Kool split up their students into three groups for math classes: high, average and low. At each level, the school’s 950 students followed the same basic curriculum, but they moved at different speeds or, in some cases for the more advanced students, dove deeper into the material. It was a departure to what they’d done under the Soviet system.

But by 2008, they abandoned the practice. “It didn’t work,” Lukk said. The lowest group “didn’t develop at all. They just vegetated.”

“My problem is whether we can keep [the test results] when stressing creativity. Will it be in some conflict?”
Konguta Kool—an elementary school in a small village about an hour east of Tartu – had some success when it divided its students up into high and low performing groups, but ultimately didn’t have the staff to keep the system.
On a sunny March day, Konguta’s 15 fifth graders were warming up for a math lesson in the school’s small computer lab.  They logged in to their laptops and signed on to a program to practice addition. Soon the only sound in the room was that of mouse clicks as they entered answers.

One girl’s screen started as basic as possible with 1+1. Within two minutes, she was up to problems like 2589 + 1233.

The school makes use of drills like this so students can practice calculating in their heads. But teachers also try to plan lessons that connect math to real life. Stairs to the lower level of the school are marked with descending negative numbers – during the winter they use them to mark the temperature. One wall is covered with charts: results of a poll of students’ favorite bread or tallies of how many times different birds have been seen in the garden.

The school generally does well on the national exam its students take at the end of sixth grade, said English teacher Katrin Libe. Those results aren’t made publically available, though; Estonian students are tested once every three years and school level results are only published at the end of 12th grade.

And while Estonia’s schools are currently benefiting from adhering to the old system, there are also changes creeping in that might disrupt its academic focus. In Konguta’s teachers lounge, Libe and math teacher Pille Granovski spoke about a recent conference they attended, where a psychologist suggested early education should focus more on emotional and social skills than starting to lay the groundwork for academics. The school has an early childhood center attached to it, which enrolls students as young as 18 months old.

“I think the learning process is quite playful [there],” Libe said.

“I don’t know,” Granovski responded. “It is playful but you still have to start learning very early.”

Educators all over Estonia are grappling with new teaching ideas and philosophies, trying to reconcile them with the more rigid system they went through. This discussion is not unlike conversations in America as most states shift to the Common Core State Standards, which have led to major changes in how teachers structure their lessons to demand higher order thinking.

Estonia’s traditional educational system still often favors more teacher-centered classrooms and emphasizes learning facts over developing soft skills. It’s generally served the country well when it comes to testing, so there is a reluctance to change entirely.

“My problem is whether we can keep [the test results] when stressing creativity,” Ligi said. “Will it be in some conflict?”

But throughout the country, policymakers and educators are talking about the need to produce students who can do more than score well on a test, perhaps go on to become entrepreneurs and creative leaders. Educators are also concerned that focusing on the average student and bringing up low-achievers to that standard comes at the expense of pushing gifted students further.

Estonian education philosophy needs to change and is changing, many educators said, to one that puts more focus on students as individuals and has them drive more of what happens in the classroom.

Yet it can be hard to get teachers to give up on the traditional ways, let alone attract good recruits for the teaching profession when pay is still among the lowest in Europe. Even though teacher training has been completely overhauled at Tartu University to place more emphasis on how to teach students critical thinking and communication and less on content knowledge, officials there say it’s taking a while to trickle down into the classroom.

And a rise in the charts hasn’t bred compliance, among teachers or students. In PISA student surveys, two-thirds of Estonian students said they are happy at their school, one of the lowest levels in OECD countries.

Estonian PISA Coordinator Gunda Tire says Estonians are complainers by nature, so they’ll respond differently to a question about happiness than, say, Americans would. (Nearly 80 percent of U.S. students said they were happy at school on the survey.)

That cultural attitude leaves them with a constant drive to keep improving their schools. “Nothing is ever good enough,” Tire said. “No one would say the school system is doing fine.”

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

New website

Cherie has been working hard on the website. I went up to school today ( until we lost power at lunch time) and added some stuff ( probably just mucked things up for Cherie to fix up. I did some shopping for work this afternoon but I'll take tomorrow off. The pop-up 'Winterlude' ice skating in Ballarat looks like fun but you would never get me in that ice!

Catholic school principals think for themselves

Follow-up to a previous post

Catholic principals are refusing to distribute a letter that warns parents against voting for the Greens in the upcoming federal election.
It came as the Greens hit back at the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, accusing it of ignoring the best interest of students and Catholic teachings.
The Commission wrote to tens of thousands of Victorian parents last week, claiming that the Greens' education policies would result in less funding for Catholic students and potentially higher school fees.

But in a fiery letter to the Commission's executive director Stephen Elder, Greens education spokesman Nick McKim said the party's backing of the Gonski school funding reforms and its pledge to invest $4.8 billion over four years to support students with a disability would benefit Catholic students.

Principals and school leaders have contacted the Greens, saying that they will not pass on Mr Elder's letter to students and parents.
"Perhaps that is because they understand that your letter is motivated far more by your close association with the Liberal Party than it is by a desire to act in the best interests of students at Catholic school and their parents," Senator McKim said.
One Catholic principal said he refused to circulate the letter because it was not the role of a school to tell parents how to vote.

I think those in the Catholic system need to ask this question: Is Elder acting in the best interests of catholic schools? ( especially small primaries and rural primaries) Or is he acting on behalf of his old mates in the Liberal Party? 
Simple question. 
Maybe they need to ask him?

 @theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

Vote for Gonski

A man browsing for books in Cincinnati's cavernous old main library. The library was demolished in 1955.

Some interesting planning and assessment graphics

From Pinterest.
Visible thinking tool. ( could be turned into a chatterbox or a spinner could be attached)
Placemat used for de-briefing after a new skill or new knowledge is learnt.
Explaining Blooms in simple terms.
Explaining assessment.
Checklist to gauge how open children are to exploring new ideas

This looks like a great idea.

Tech school at Ballarat

The Education Minister Merlino and local member Geoff Howard check out plans ( by Patrick Architects) for the new tech school to be built at Federation University in Ballarat. 
Our new Tech School will provide local secondary students with the opportunity to access leading edge technology and facilities to develop the skills they need in science, technology, engineering and maths that will help them secure a highly skilled job in the future.

Lunch with friends

I spent a few hours this morning up a school checking out our new website that Cherie is designing for us and it looks great. It looks a lot easier for me to use than other blogs and websites I've used ( or tried to use) before. 
Today I met up with my mates Karolina from Little Bendigo PS and Peter from Magpie PS. We had a great meal and a few laughs at GCs.
I took my son to vote early today. The pre-polling booth is bizarrely in an old pub!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Not quite the start of the holidays....

Well....not the start for me. I have lots to do for the new Strategic Plan, some organising for camp later in the year and work to do on the new web site.
It was a very chilly day today. The cows and calves next door were feeding happily while I was inside helping Steve to replace our office server which was a big job in our tight office space, although Steve says its roomy compared to some schools. 
He has another 8 to do these holidays. He usually starts with Glen Park because we're the smallest and easiest.

While Steve was busy doing that I was updating our policies for our new Strategic Plan.
Don't let anybody tell you that schools don't have a lot of red tape because as you can see below there is plenty of it....and this doesn't include many policies that are not required for our review but which we have anyway or does it include curriculum policies.
Tomorrow I need to review the new website that Cherie is putting together for us and I also have lunch with my mates Peter and Karolina from Magpie and Little Bendigo. It will actually be a working lunch because we are thinking of undertaking our mid- year Principal Performance Plan together. 
On Wednesday I'll have a break and start reading a new book I got the other day called  'Dark Emu' and on Thursday I meet up with my SEIL to talk about the draft of my Self - Evaluation document and to check over my updated policies. 
On Friday I plan to drive to Warrnambool to check out camp.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Turnbull turns his back on Gonski reform

Coalition election launch today but NO GONSKI funding. Nothing innovative or agile.
Gonski approval figures impressive and only improving as the election continues.Entering the last week of this make or break election for state education. the launch, the architect of the great lie ( along with Pyne) that a vote for the Liberals was also a vote for Gonski at the last election was looking on like a raw onion!
If looks could kill.
And the Brexit turmoil rolls on.

Yeah, give it a rest John!

Hooray 78000 views

New Units

The first weekend of the winter term break and I thought I'd put up some literature units on TPT that I used several years ago and created then but didn't post for one reason or another. They haven't been used this year (although I might use The Railway Children with my grade 3 girl in term 4, I think she'd like it) but have been used in 2012-14

In Michael Panckridge's The Vanishing; Francesca’s sister Carli goes missing and life is turned upside down. Francesca is sent to stay with her neighbours at the Kelly Station while her parents search for their lost daughter. When Francesca becomes involved in her own dangerous search for Carli she becomes caught up in a ghostly world that threatens her very existence. In Out of the Blue a group of inquisitive kids a wondering if they have stumbled upon a genuine UFO of something more sinister close to home. Michael is a prolific writer of quality kids books from primary to secondary so you are guaranteed to be entertained by him. he is also a his success gives us all hope!!
I also included some photos I have taken of rural Victoria which can be used by whoever purchases the unit from TPT

Letter to me from the author:

E.Nesbit (Edith) was able to write some good stories (Five Children and It and The Railway Children) but she also wrote a lot of rubbish. She wrote like 'Mother' in The Railway Children to keep her dysfunctional family from starvation. She was an intelligent crafts person determined as the sole breadwinner to maintain a household and lifestyle and indulge in her Fabian passions. For that she deserves our respect.
Interestingly Nesbit had a lot in common with her immediate successor as prolific writer of children’s literature. They lost their fathers from their lives when youths. Absent or dead fathers feature frequently in their work. Both had unfortunate first marriages and had better luck the second time round. Blyton however died very rich while Nesbit sadly died destitute.

The Nicholas books are written in an episodic style, not unlike Mary Poppins. Every chapter is more or less a self-contained story. In that way it is easy to read the book as a serial in whatever order you like. I took a different approach to using this book in the classroom. I  read one chapter at a time and allowed children to respond through research, creative writing and craft (higher order thinking activities) to what they’ve listened too. Some responses took a while to complete while others can be started and finished in a day.
 I gave the children some choice as to what response they choose but also included a few remembering and comprehending activities for when the book was finished. There will be a strong emphasis on using digital resources (PCs, flip cameras, iPads, digital cameras and the internet.) to complete their tasks. Their creative skills and ability to freely utilise our available technology was the main focus of evaluation in this unit.
There are some excellent online resources for these books but they’re mostly in French. (Maybe this book could be used to support French LOTE - languages other Than English?)This unit should take 2 weeks but more time may be needed to complete some creative tasks. There is plenty of scope to add additional material to this unit while or after using it. I will re-visit it myself maybe next year.


Building boom in private schools

There is a 'building boom' occurring in Ballarat (not as outrageous as what is occurring in Sydney and Melbourne but just as stunning in its audacity!) tens of millions of dollars have been spent in a manic desire to top market share in Ballarat and the western district ( hence St Pats new boarding facility) 
It should be noted that the money that schools like Ballarat College and Phoenix (ex Sebastapol SC) is basically rejuvenating or replacing decrepit buildings not touched since they were built in the 60s-70s. Their new facilities are very modest compared with infinity pools, sports pavilions, performing arts centres etc etc etc. 
Ballarat High received funds just before the last election but nowhere near enough to do what really needs to be done but enough to replace a Menzie's era science block and open up and modernise a 1970s building. (Other high schools in Victoria with a similar design have demolished these buildings not remodelled them) 
The imbalance in resources and facilities does not go unnoticed in Ballarat. If our state secondary schools are not to wither away or be seen as the second or third option we need to promote the fantastic things that go on INSIDE our schools but also ensure we have 21st century learning facilities that we need to 'level the playing field'.

Splurging on rowing tanks, pilates studios and sky decks, Melbourne's private schools are outspending their public counterparts four to one.
Some top private schools have spent up to $70 million on capital projects over the past few years as part of a facilities "arms race" to lure students.
The state's biggest spender, Carey Baptist Grammar School, shelled out about $11.4 million in 2014 on a new "learning and innovation" centre at its Kew campus.
The $23 million building, designed by top architects Hayball, features an "audiovisual Imaginarium" with 3D technology and a "United Nations Room" with a sky deck with sweeping views the city.
Principal Philip Grutzner said the centre had replaced 1950s classrooms that were "as bad as some of the worst facilities I've seen in many independent and state schools".
He said all Victorian students deserved quality teachers and "welcoming, supportive and innovative" facilities had a major impact on morale and learning.
An analysis of the most recent My School data by the Centre for Policy Development's Bernie Shepherd and Chris Bonnor revealed the capital expenditure per Victorian private school student was $2011 in 2014. This is compared to $469 per state school student.

Mr Shepherd said government funding for capital works should not be provided to well-off private schools.
"Where there are large amounts being spent already, more money does not make much difference to educational outcomes," he said.  
"The evidence shows that funding disadvantaged schools and students leads to greater educational outcomes."
The analysis showed the federal government spent $141 on capital expenditure per private school student, compared to $238 for public school students. The state government also spent $184 per state school student.
It follows a recent analysis showing the average government funding of some of Victoria's most elite private schools increased eight times times the rate of the neediest public schools.
The state's second biggest spender was Presbyterian Ladies' College, which forked out $10.7 million on capital projects in 2014, while planning a $30 million auditorium with a "black box" studio for drama classes and performances.
The spending was not confined to 2014.
Ballarat Clarendon College recently demolished its swimming pool and is now building an indoor motorised rowing tank, which will create its own currents and simulate the outdoors.
It's part of the school's new fitness centre, which will include an infinity pool and spin class room.
And Melbourne Girls Grammar is building a $22 million centre with "exceptional pool and gymnasium facilities", a yoga and pilates studio, basketball/volleyball/netball courts and a cafe. It hopes to generate $6 million through fundraising, and is calling on the community to pledge gifts of $25,000 or more to become founding members of their "200 Club".
A construction blitz is also taking place at Scotch College, which is building a $32 million science centre with a rooftop teaching area, atrium, wind turbines and "sweeping views of the river landscape".
More than 1100 members of the "Scotch family" have committed $20 million to the project, the school said on its website.
Some state schools were not too far behind; Bendigo Senior Secondary College spent $7.6 million, Phoenix P-12 Community College spent $7.2 million and Wyndham Central Secondary College spent $7 million on capital works.
Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said parents and donors raised almost all the funds for capital projects at independent schools.
"Nationally, parents and donors on average contributed about 86 per cent of the cost of capital projects, such as buildings, at independent schools in 2014," she said.
The remaining funds came from federal and state government grants, she said.
"In Victoria, independent schools receive a relatively small amount of government funding for capital works," Ms Green said.
But surveys conducted by the organisation have found parents are not that fussed about a school's facilities and resources.
They ranked the development of sound values and beliefs, a school's reputation and its ability to meet the needs of their child as higher priorities. They ranked a school's facilities ninth in the surveys.
Sydney University's associate professor Helen Proctor said private schools receive funding through high fees, government funding and "sophisticated fundraising offices".
She said because Victorian schools were not allowed to make profit, they splurged on new buildings, creating an "arms race".
"These facilities, I think, are partly the language of competition between those schools," she said.

By Henrietta Cook and Timina Jacks
@theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria has written to parents, urging them not to vote for the Greens in the upcoming federal election

The Catholic Church certainly doesn't like the Greens ( Actually the Sex Party has a far more virulent ant-church stance than the Greens) but that is nothing new. Elder intervened in the same manner as Henrietta Cook points out in the last state election. It is also a stance that goes hand in hand with the views of conservative catholic commentators like the odious Gerard Henderson who is also very anti-Green as is Tony Abbott. Of course the Catholic Church in Australia has been telling it's parishioners how to vote for years. Mannix was anti- conscription and the church strongly backed the DLP against Labor in the 50s-60s helping to keep Menzie's in power. I've written about Elder before so I won't go there again but he is an fact failed Liberal politician from the Kennett era so I suppose his hostility to the Greens and to Gonski is understandable. 
Like The Greens spokesperson it is a puzzle why they are turning their backs on Gonski reform. I can think of a few struggling Catholic primaries especially in the country who would greatly benefit from the additional funding and the chance to hire more widely? I wonder what would have happened if the government had sent home letters to families suggesting that they vote for parties that support Gonski? The union ( AEU and others) have come out in support and provided signs, badges and information flyers to that effect. I guess if the AEU can then Elder can too?
I believe that Catholic schools which receive tax payers money should be non-discriminatory and not only that but also more transparent with how they spend their funding. Just as people say as an argument for state funding of private schools, 'I pay my taxes, I want that money going to the school of my choice' I would say 'I pay my taxes and I want money that I pay to schools spent wisely and I don't want to see teachers discriminated against because of gender, religious beliefs or sexual preferences because they are not treated that way in the state system'. Seems fair?
I wonder how much impact these letters have and wonder if they are actually counter-productive?

Story from WA Today and the Age from Henrietta Cook.
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria has circulated a letter to schools in marginal seats, seats where MPs are retiring and electorates where the Greens are hoping for a win.

These include Batman – which the Greens hope to pick up thanks to its rapidly changing demographic– and the Greens-held seat of Melbourne. The letters were also stuffed into school bags in Wills, Corangamite, La Trobe, Bruce, Chisholm  

The Commission's executive director Stephen Elder said in the letter that the Greens' stance on funding for Catholic schools was "highly problematic".

He criticised the Greens' model because in addition to basing funding on socio-economic measures, it would consider a school's resources and its capacity to generate income from other sources including fees and contributions.

"Such a shift would adversely impact many Catholic schools and the potential flow-on effect to fees would undermine our ability to welcome disadvantaged students and their families into our educational community," he said. The letter was distributed on Thursday and Friday as schools broke for the holidays.

Mr Elder also criticised the Greens for seeking to "abolish our ability to hire staff on religious grounds".

"Their education policy explicitly applies this proposal by linking government funding for Catholic schools to 'non-discrimination in the hiring of staff'," he said.

He said this could lead to Catholic principals being forced to employ staff who were critical of their faith. Their plan was an "affront to the religious liberties currently exercised by the Church and our schools."

Mr Elder said there was a "real chance" the Greens could hold the balance of power which could put the major parties' education commitments at risk.

He urged parents to remember that Labor and the Liberals were committed to ongoing and stable funding for Catholic schools.  

Greens education spokesman Senator Nick McKim said it was extraordinary that the Catholic Education Commission was advocating for the Liberals over the Greens, when the Liberals refused to fund the final two years of the Gonski school funding agreement.

"The Greens do support that funding, which means under Greens policies, Catholic schools would be significantly better resourced than they would under the Liberals," he said. 

He said it was not surprising that Mr Elder, a former state Liberal MP, was attacking the Greens. 

"Parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools are more than capable of making up their own minds on how to vote and do not need a lecture from Mr Elder."

It is not the first time the Catholic Education Commission has intervened in an election – they advised parents not to vote for the Greens in four inner-city seats ahead of the 2014 state election. 

Unpublished Quentin Blake illustrations for the BFG

From the Guardian

The BFG movie will be out later this month and I will work on a unit for it during the holidays.


Snowy day at Glen Park today. It didn't get above 1 degree today. By recess time it started to snow and by lunch time it snowed harder and has snowed on and off even in Ballarat after school.

Before the snow we finished off the last of the Pride and Prejudice work ( acrostic poems below) and also finished reading Moonfleet.
Lucy joined us for lunch. We made our own pizzas and ate them up and did some Italian games. Lucy has asked to come back again Next term so we will be doing Italian again in term 3 which is fantastic.

As it is the last day of term we finished up at 2:30 today. 
It has been a long and challenging term. The big positive is the great support I have had from the parents and the total engagement of the children who have been working and playing very well together. 
I have a lot of work to do over the holidays but I'm looking forward to next term which will be a very busy one for us.

Playing Italian games with Lucy.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Education spending makes better economic sense.

A STUDY Labor says “blows to pieces” Malcolm Turnbull’s economic plan argues education funding beats company tax cuts for boosting growth.

Living standards were higher when education funding was higher, according to a comparison of countries in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The data presented here clearly suggest that if there were a choice between funding company tax cuts or more education spending governments would be well-advised to concentrate on the latter,” said author of the analysis, David Richardson senior research fellow at theAustralia Institute.

The study deals with the central policy contest of the election campaign.The Coalition has presented voters with a plan for extensive corporate tax cuts growing to around $48 billion over 10 years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said this will encourage further investment and higher employment.

Labor wants to put more money into education, including schools and apprenticeships.

The Australia Institute found there was “no relationship between company tax rates and living standards”, and that nothing supports the idea “that company tax cuts increase the living standards of the population generally”.

It found “a strong relationship between living standards and the education attainment of the labour force”.

But Labor leader Bill Shorten welcomed the report: “This blows Malcolm Turnbull’s so-called economic plan to pieces. The difference in economic visions couldn’t be sharper or starker.”

Mr Shorten said it showed “growth will come from high-skill industries, with high-wage jobs”.

“Giving $50 billion to big business while cutting billions of dollars from education is a stupid decision,” he said.

“Wages are flatlining and living standards are falling, and Mr Turnbull’s only solution is to give more taxpayer money to big business and the banks.

“When we invest in education, we’re investing in better jobs, higher wages and improved living standards.”

The origin of Batman

Not to be trusted on higher education

The Department of Education has refused to provide access to modelling the department has done on the impact of fee deregulation on university students and the higher education sector.
The Department of Education has refused to provide access to modelling the department has done on the impact of fee deregulation on university students and the higher education sector.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) submitted a freedom of information request, asking the department for question time briefs, spreadsheets of potential fees by course, an assessment of the impact of deregulation on regional higher education and modelling relating to graduates in 2019.
The request was knocked back.
NTEU national president Jeannie Rea said 
“Is it because the Turnbull government doesn't want voters to know that their own numbers confirm fee deregulation will lead to $100,000 degrees? Or is it because full deregulation isn’t really off the table at all?”
The Coalition government failed in its attempts to introduce full fee deregulation for the higher education sector in the previous parliament, but it still intends to introduce partial deregulation if re-elected on July 2.
The education minister Simon Birmingham has refused to release a higher education policy prior to the election. Instead, the government has released a “discussion paper”, and said it has plans to consult the sector.
The paper presents a number of options including partial deregulation and changes to the way that student loans are repaid.
During the Facebook leaders' debate, Malcolm Turnbull accidentally let slip that it was indeed Coalition policy to partially deregulate the sector. No consultation necessary apparently?
They simply cannot be trusted!

Finishing off learning tasks for Pride and Prejudice today

Miserable, cold and wet day today. Second last day of term 2. 
Big day tomorrow.
Marriage certificate for Lydia and Wickham.
My grade 2 girl did a fantastic job of her ice-cave for the Little Polar Bear

Marriage terms for Lydia and Wickham.
Sea caves pictures for Moonfleet. We finish the book tomorrow. I've really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it as a great adventure tale. 
Lots of work to do over the holidays so I will be at work more than on holidays.
On the weekend I'll post some re-vamped older teaching units on TPT. ( All for free for the next month)
My grade 6 girl watched Persuasion today while she was working on her Pride and Prejudice tasks and she is taking home a book and DVD for Sense and Sensibilities over the holidays. It is great when they really get into quality literature like that!
It is very cold today and might snow tomorrow?
Must fix that down pipe!