Saturday, 27 May 2017
Friday, 26 May 2017
Thursday, 25 May 2017
From the SMH
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Monday, 22 May 2017
The Federal government releases data detrimental to Catholic Education which under 'normal circumstances' they would have kept secret to show that poor catholic schools are subsidising rich government schools. What interests me most is that it seems that country schools are the ones being shafted....surprise surprise! Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Birmingham and Pyne in particular would be attacking the system that Pyne said the coalition had an affinity with! Stunning stuff....imagine them visiting state schools for happy snaps!!! NO....it won't happen!
This story from The Sydney Morning Herald.( Matthew Knott again, he must have mates in Birmingham's office)
Catholic education authorities are short-changing needy schools by up to $1.5 million a year to help keep fees low at schools in wealthy areas in Sydney and Melbourne, government data reveals.
The release of the previously secret Department of Education data comes as the peak body representing independent Christian schools called on the Catholic sector to stop campaigning against the government and support its school funding "breakthrough".
The Turnbull government will introduce its school funding changes into the House of Representatives for debate on Tuesday.
The federal government funds Catholic schools on a needs basis but distributes the money to state and territory education commissions in a lump sum, which they distribute among schools as they see fit.
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Catholic Parish Primary School, a low-SES school in Melbourne's Epping North, received $1.86 million in 2015 – $1.49 million less than its federal government allocation.
The most socially disadvantaged Catholic school in Victoria, St Thomas Aquinas in Norlane, received 15 per cent less than its federal government funding allocation in 2015.
Meanwhile, St Columba's School in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Elwood received 15 per cent more funding than its federal government allocation.
St Jerome's Catholic Primary School, a low socio-economic school in the western Sydney suburb of Punchbowl, received $2.71 million in funding in 2015 – $1.3 million less than its federal needs-based entitlement.
By contrast, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Pymble received $412,500 more than its federal funding allocation.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Monday said: "I think people would be very concerned if they thought that less well-off schools were subsidising wealthier schools.
"But these really are matters for Catholic education to explain to its parents, to its constituent bodies."
Catholic school funding will increase by $1.2 billion over the next four years, he said.
The data provided to Fairfax Media shows high-SES NSW Catholic primary schools in Coogee, Annandale and Woollahra were funded above their allocation, while low-SES schools in Tenterfield, Walgett and Campsie were significantly under-funded.
Low-income Victorian Catholic schools in Tallangatta and Heathcote were funded significantly below their allocation, while high-SES schools in Caulfield and Ivanhoe East were overfunded.
Sunday, 21 May 2017
On the rare occasion that the staff in our English department surface from their marking pile long enough to enjoy a cup of tea together, I’ll ask everybody what they’re reading. The answer is usually the same: nothing.
Teachers only read the bits of books they have to teach – and even then it’s often one chapter ahead of their students. If there’s a bit of a text they don’t understand or think is boring, they just remove it from the photocopied version before class. It means that teachers are effectively editing texts, and some are not familiar with reading entire books.
I know for a fact that several of my colleagues have never read anything by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen or the Brontës, and nothing longer than 600 pages that isn’t by JK Rowling.
I mourned the loss of Of Mice and Men from the GCSE syllabus, and why? Because it was a safe text – one that every English teacher could teach standing on their head, metaphorically speaking. But its removal revealed the gap in our subject knowledge. How many other 20th-century novels do we have resources for and experience of? God help us if the government ever removes An Inspector Calls or Animal Farm.
While English teachers must be graduates, they don’t necessarily need a degree in English literature. Journalism, media studies, drama and American studies are now widely accepted as a higher level qualifications for PGCE applicants to teach English. I’m not suggesting these degrees are less worthy than English literature, but how many whole texts do these courses require their undergraduates to read? Even in my own English literature degree, we were often only given a booklet of chapters and extracts.
In every school I’ve taught at, English departments refuse to use their meagre budgets on new texts, opting for photocopies of extracts from novels and plays instead. We don’t read entire novels at all any more until students reach GCSE, at which point they react with utter horror. The prospect of suddenly having to read a whole book is quite daunting.
This hesitancy to invest in new books is partly due to the way the students treat them. They throw them, draw in them, tear pages out – so the school won’t and often can’t afford to replace them.
But it is also partly to do with attitudes to reading from adults. In one school, I was questioned by management as to why I was attempting to read whole chapters of a classic with an A-level group instead of using a DVD and extracts. At another school, library lessons were cancelled and branded “a waste of curriculum time”. Students had been spending most of this lesson reading for pleasure, as well as completing projects based on the library’s wealth of non-fiction texts. Once they were locked out of their library lessons, well over 2,000 books were left to gather dust. The librarian was made redundant.
There is also the issue of time – or lack of it. Time to choose a novel, time to discuss it, time to actually sit down and take pleasure in a narrative and its characters. On average, I’d estimate that my colleagues and I are working on marking and preparation about 60 hours a week. Most of us also have families and spouses, who have to fight for our attention.
But reading is important. It increases our vocabulary, helps us reflect, builds our empathy, and improves concentration, focus and memory. It can reduce stress. I find few activities more relaxing than reading – and yet I confess I don’t have the time for it that I use
Every few years schools will push a literacy drive. They’ll try the Accelerated Reader programme, reading passports (pdf), and even sponsored readathons. But how teachers act matters, too. As the University of Coventry (pdf), in alliance with the Book Trust, states: “Teachers have been shown to have a big impact on children and thus it is imperative that they model the behaviours they want to encourage.”
English teachers are too bogged down by workload to take pleasure in what often brought us into our job – a love of literature. But if we aren’t reading, how can we encourage our students to?
Saturday, 20 May 2017
Two of the world's best loved children's authors say parents and teachers risk stifling children's early reading pleasure by pushing them onto books they dislike or are aimed at building academic success.
Reading should be about escape, relaxation and enjoyment and never cast as a chore, says Lauren Child, author of Charlie and Lola and the spoof girl detective series Ruby Redfort.
"I don't know why we are so down on this idea of reading for pleasure," Child says, "I think there is a lot of reading for success, reading for learning. You need to think of it as an enjoyable pleasure. Children also need to escape for emotional understanding of their own feelings."
Young readers, says Child, should be free to browse books that interest them no matter their perceived worthiness.
Crediting her own obsession with comic books for her storytelling powers, Child has only lately come to recognise a note of similarity between and her wide-eyed siblings, Charlie and Lola, and the simple pen lines and observational turns of Charles Schultz's comic strip Peanuts, of which she was a fan.
"I don't think we need to ram the classics down children's throats and I do think that happens a bit," she says. "They have to love [reading] before they can take on something that feels a lot to take on."
Kate DiCamillo, a former US National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and author of The Tale of Despereaux, is wary of schools' testing culture. Both Child and DiCamillo are headlining the Sydney Writers' Festival's Family Day on May 28.
"It's a very powerful emotional thing to read a book and to reduce it to a series of questions in a test strips something away from the book," DiCamillo says. "If you are talking in a group about what a book means to you then that's a different kind of thing."
In Charlie and Lola Child captures the child's exaggerated voice and mannerisms of home and the playground. Much of the author's insight comes from a deep recall of her own childhood disappointments, fears and embarrassments growing up the middle child of three girls in rural England.
"Whether it is fear of having fish pie or staying in someone's house or not being able to tell the time, all of those things I can remember very clearly," she says. "We so often forget how big all these things are for very small children because they are so often trying these things for the first time. It's quite a big deal to eat food you've never ever eaten before, you've got no idea what it tastes like."
Writing and illustration she finds "equally hard and equally enjoyable". Like DiCamillo, Child's first publishing deal came after her 30th birthday, having spent five years trying to find a publisher for Clarice Bean That's Me, which she wrote and drew between spot-painting for artist Damien Hirst and starting a lampshade company.
Charlie and Lola animation television series ended in 2008 and Child, who was executive producer, was glad of that, worried there was not enough quality material to carry a fourth series. The book series goes on. She has finished her sixth Charlie and Lola book, A Dog With Nice Ears, and is planning a "few more".
The secret to a good children's picture book is ultimately one that appeals to the whole family, including the parent reader. "Also not talking down to the children," Child adds. "Children are extremely sophisticated and they understand a lot more than we give them credit for, and I think it is best is they work a little bit to understand a big word or an idea. It's a good thing to stretch them a bit."
Parent to seven-year-old Tuesday, adopted from Mongolia four years ago, Child keeps a huge collection of children's books at home. "If she doesn't like something I put it aside and try it later on. You get a sense of what the child is interested in. There were surprises as well, things I didn't think she'd be interested in that she became very hot on ... things about families, that seemed important."
One of her daughter's favourites is Ernest and Celestine, about a bear who helps a mouse find its lost toy in the snow. Child had bought it for the beautiful artwork but Tuesday found comfort in the reassuringly cosy subtext of an adult who takes time and patience to search for an item important to the child.
DiCamillo urges teachers and parents take time to read out aloud to their young students, a joy she experienced and thinks instrumental to her writing life.
"It was just a way for everyone to be together and to me it's the most powerful way to experience stories, it makes it communal.
"How do you make your kids read more? It needs to be presented as a joy and a privilege to get to do it, and the kids should get to see you as a parent reading for your own pleasure. It's not something you send your kids off to do, 'go into your room and read for 15 minutes or else'. It becomes a task then."
Tips for making avid child readers:
• Let them loose in a school or council library to browse their own interests.
• Do not judge their selection or restrict their choices. No book can be too babyish or too unsophisticated.
• Model reading yourself.
• Set aside quiet spaces for them to concentrate.
• Read out loud when possible and include all members of the family.
• Don't pressure them to read.
There were many early supporters of equal education for all, but there was still considerable controversy about access to education. Questions arose about whether poor children were being restricted to instruction in basic skills while the middle classes received broad education meant to maintain and improve their quality of life. It was in this period of transition from theoretical public education to an implemented system that worked for all citizens, that Horace Mann emerged as one of the principal champions of education.
Horace Mann, who many education experts and historians consider to be the father of the common school concept. With his craggy features and passionate speeches, he embodied the spirit of educational idealism during the first half of the 1800s.
Mann was born into an impoverished Massachusetts family and was largely self-taught. He managed to secure a place at Brown University, where his oratorical prowess first became evident. He was to use this rhetorical ability to further his careers in law and politics. As secretary of the first board of education in the United States, he gave lectures and started the influential Common School Journal.
Picking up on many of the ideas of the founding fathers, Mann went on to envisage how a system of universal education would best serve the social, economic, and political needs of society. He centered his lofty hopes for the nation on the solo successes of children because he believed that a common experience in school could mold them into successful individuals.
Mann developed six educational principles that would come to define his involvement, and would influence the American education system for decades:
(1) Citizens cannot maintain both ignorance and freedom;
(2) This education should be paid for, controlled, and maintained by the public;
(3) This education should be provided in schools that embrace children from varying backgrounds;
(4) This education must be nonsectarian;
(5) This education must be taught using tenets of a free society; and
(6) This education must be provided by well-trained, professional teachers.
Ever expansive in his ideas, Mann also believed that common schooling would reduce hostilities among citizens. As children grew into adults sharing a common educational experience, Mann posited that different socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds would become less significant. Mann’s vision for schools included a common moral and political foundation, as well as the provision of opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve self-sufficiency and use education to lift themselves from poverty.
By 1837, Horace Mann was busy working to mobilize support for public schools and argued that they were the training ground for youth and for individuals to be able to participate effectively as citizens of a democratic nation. Mann clearly valued a balanced and broad curriculum and supported the development of one in public schools.
Indeed, Mann’s ideal school system brought children from all backgrounds to learn together in an ungraded school. Mann advocated for the education of heterogeneous groups of students to achieve unifying goals and believed specifically in the connection between freedom, self-government, and universal education. He believed in the value of a common learning environment and the development of self-discipline. These, he maintained, could be transferred into the types of skills and behaviors needed for a free society where citizens were not only educated, but had the ability to make intelligent decisions needed for moral judgment and government participation. For Mann, the purpose of education went beyond intellectual and utilitarian goals.
Accepting that children differ regarding ability, interests, and temperament, Mann laid the groundwork for lessons to be adapted to meet the individual needs of children. The one-room school, now a nostalgic icon of American history, embodied Mann’s idyllic vision of the common school. There was little consistency in the curriculums used by one-room schools, though, and teachers had difficulty grouping children for instructional purposes.
Students studied in groups based on what they knew and what they needed to know. Students of multiple ages received instruction at the same level. Given the number of children and the different ages of children in the classroom, children principally learned via memorization. Teachers had little time to target individual needs in the classroom. Even with these drawbacks, however, the non-graded one-room school was an invaluable institution for providing free and public education for children during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Many children excelled in learning reading, writing, and arithmetic, even when the time at school was disrupted by the need to work on the family farm. The ungraded structure of the one-room school allowed for the return to school after an extended absence. It also allowed children to take a break and then return to learning, based on the knowledge they had retained.
Though the standardized assessments that are part of the educational system today did not exist, children did have oral exams at the end of the school year. These were formal quizzes on what they had learned over the course of the year. The purpose of these exams was to provide teachers with information about where to start children at the beginning of the next school year.
Passing and failing were not descriptors used to classify children’s learning behaviors in the one-room school, as progress was allowed to occur at different rates. Only when students took the exams needed to enter high schools outside of their rural communities would they experience their first taste of scholastic success or failure.
Was the one-room school on to something?
The revelation earlier this year that hundreds of thousands of students with a disability are in school without any additional funding to support their education has been reinforced by new statistics.
The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCC) for 2016, released this week by the COAG Education Council, showed 12.4 per cent of all Australian school students — about 470,000 students — received some form of support due to a disability that required additional funding.
That is more than double the number currently getting federal and state government assistance for their education, according to figures from the Productivity Commission.
The gap in funding for 2016 was virtually unchanged from the year before — 269,000 students with a disability are in school without any additional funding for their education.
Samuel Weston, 15, is one of those students.
"I really wish the Government funded people like me. Because otherwise if they didn't, these people would continually struggle," he said.
Samuel lives with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is now at TAFE after studying for three years at Patterson River Secondary College in Melbourne's south.
While at school, he attended classes with an integration aide — an education specialist who sat with him.
From Huffington Post
Friday, 19 May 2017
Thursday, 18 May 2017
States and territories are being asked to play a game of "Simon Says" over school funding, with education ministers declaring a new commonwealth deal unacceptable.
They say a meeting in Adelaide on Thursday with Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham provided little detail and they remain united in calling for existing agreements to be honoured.
"This is a game of Simon Says and we're meant to jump when Simon says so," Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones told reporters.
She said the Commonwealth had offered no information on what strings might be attached to the latest offer and was "putting the cart before the horse" in trying to lock in funding arrangements before a new review.
The Turnbull government has outlined a plan to put $18.6 billion more into education over the next decade while moving all schools to consistent, needs-based funding.
Legislation, already before federal parliament, requires states to sign up to a national education reform agreement to get the cash.
The government plans to finalise that agreement by June 2018, which will incorporate recommendations from the new review by businessman David Gonski, who led the original school funding review in 2011.
Senator Birmingham said Thursday's meeting was constructive and he looked forward to the discussions continuing.
"What I saw in the room today were a lot of constructive conversations about the detail of the funding proposal, the detail of how our legislation will work," he said.
"There are lots of questions from the states about how it is they will be measured in terms of their contribution.
"Because we are determined to make sure, that as we tip in increasing, growing, record levels of funding, the state's and territories don't cut back or cost shift."
Senator Birmingham also dismissed as "posturing", calls from the states for agreements with the previous federal Labor government to be honoured.
But South Australian Education Minister Susan Close said states and territories remained united in opposition to the funding deal.
What was on offer was "simply not good enough to guarantee a good education for our children", she said.
"The states and territories stood shoulder to shoulder."
Outside the Adelaide meeting, Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe described the federal government's education plan as a "huge con".
"It hides a huge cut," she said.
"We know that in 10 years time, 84 per cent of public schools will not meet the minimum benchmark.
"If we're to close the achievement gaps that our students face then we have to have the resources and the federal government needs to back our kids and their schools."