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Weekly Wrap: February 1, 2024

1/02/24
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The information in the Weekly Wrap is aggregated from other news sources to provide you with news that is relevant to the education sector across Australia and worldwide. Each paragraph is a summary of the subject matter covered in the particular news article. The information does not necessarily reflect the views of Ideagen CompliSpace.

 

Australia

Parents Urged to Open Dialogue on Cyberbullying Following Spike in Cases

The eSafety Commissioner is urging parents and caregivers to have conversations with their children about online safety following an increase in reported cyberbullying cases. In 2023, the Commissioner received 2,383 reports of cyberbullying, compared to 1,700 in 2022. The majority of these reports (67%) involved children aged 12 to 15. The Commissioner suggests that parents discuss with their children the importance of staying safe online, treating others with respect, and parental and privacy controls. Additionally, parents should regularly inquire about their children's online activities. The Commissioner emphasises the need for continuous guidance and support from both industry and caregivers, especially with cyberbullying evolving along with the advancement of AI technologies.

 

Spotlight on Nutrition Initiatives in Australian Schools

The Educator highlights the growing emphasis on initiatives aimed at improving nutrition and promoting healthy eating habits in response to the increasing rates of children and teenagers in Australia being considered overweight or obese. Dr. Catharine Fleming of Western Sydney University has been working on interventions targeting dietary behaviours from early childhood through adolescence, highlighting the importance of early years intervention and advocating for school-based improvements. Dr. Fleming emphasises the value of involving young people in designing nutrition interventions and the need for schools to prioritise nutrition education and offer healthier canteen options to encourage sustainable eating habits among students.

 

Proposal for a “National Device Bank” to Tackle the Digital Divide

According to a recent report, Australian students, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, are facing a significant digital divide, The Educator reports. It is concerning that 84% of students with inadequate computer access are struggling with their schoolwork. The report, conducted by KPMG for WorkVentures, reveals that 44% of Year 6 students and 25% of Year 10 students do not have access to a computer at home. To address this issue, WorkVentures proposes the establishment of a “National Device Bank” that would provide free digital devices to those in need. This initiative aims to redirect 10 million devices from the public and corporate sectors in Australia. It is part of a larger call for a comprehensive national strategy to bridge the digital divide in education.

 

New Research Addresses Math Anxiety

The Educator highlights key research around the issue of mathematics anxiety in Australia, a condition impacting student achievement in math and future opportunities in STEM careers. Findings from the Centre for Independent Studies show that brain imaging studies link high levels of math anxiety with the brain's fear circuitry, indicating its basis in biological systems. This has influenced educators and policymakers to reconsider approaches to math education, with some advocating for reduced testing pressure and emphasis on procedural mastery. To reduce math anxiety, Dr. David Geary, the author of the paper, suggests that structured, step-by-step tutoring could be an effective intervention to alleviate math anxiety and improve math competencies.

 

Addressing Classroom Disruption: Senate Inquiry Calls for Change

A Senate inquiry in Australia has highlighted the need for significant changes in classroom management to address disruptive behaviour, The Educator reports. According to the final report of the inquiry, teachers often face verbal abuse and physical aggression from students, leading to concerns about their well-being. The University of South Australia has initiated a research project aimed at improving induction programs for early career teachers as a response to these challenges, aiming to assist teachers in effectively managing student behaviour, particularly those on casual or short-term contracts. However, Professor Anna Sullivan cautions that a behaviour curriculum may not offer an immediate solution.

 

Suicide Prevention Charity Releases New Resources for Educators

The R U OK? suicide prevention charity has recently launched new resources specifically tailored for primary and secondary educators in Australia. The Educator states that the objective is to equip students with the necessary skills to support their peers who may be facing challenges or mental health issues. These resources aim to streamline the teaching process by providing concise and practical ideas that can be implemented easily within the time constraints faced by educators. The materials include downloadable calendars featuring important dates and free activities, a dedicated e-newsletter for educators, and age-appropriate resources co-developed with educators. The ultimate goal is to foster an R U OK? culture among staff, students, and the broader school community, nurturing the development of crucial life skills among young individuals.

 

Leading Autism Researcher Joins National School Resourcing Board

Recent reporting by WA Today has highlighted that Professor Andrew Whitehouse from the Telethon Kids Institute, a leading autism researcher, will join the National School Resourcing Board. This move by the Australian government aims to ensure that the education system adequately accommodates the growing number of students with disabilities. Currently, 24.2% of school enrolments, almost a quarter of all pupils, require educational adjustments due to disabilities. Additionally, schools are being called on to take on a greater responsibility in supporting children with conditions like autism, aiming to reduce the burden on families seeking assistance from the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

 

Experts Push for National Strategy to Boost Male Representation in Early Learning

Education experts from the University of South Australia are advocating for a national strategy to encourage more men to pursue early learning and childcare professions. This initiative is part of the Mindaroo Thrive by Five Dad's Alliance Action Plan for the Early Years, aimed at supporting fathers in taking a more active role in their children's lives. Currently, less than 3% of men work in carer and teacher roles in the early childhood education and care sector, highlighting the need for gender diversity. The lack of male representation can impact children's development, as positive interactions with men and women support young children’s growth. The article emphasises the importance of a gender-diverse workforce in providing quality care and fostering meaningful relationships during children's critical early years.

 

Western Australia to Fully Fund Public Schools

Western Australia is poised to become the first state in Australia to fully fund all public schools to the School Resourcing Standard, marking a significant milestone in the nation's education landscape. According to a report by The Educator, this landmark initiative involves allocating state resources to cover the complete operational costs of public schools. This funding approach is expected to alleviate financial burdens on families and foster a more equitable education system, where every public school has access to sufficient resources for its functioning.

 

New Program Aims to Improve Education in Remote WA

The Commonwealth and WA Governments are collaborating on the Scaling Up Success in Remote Schools Program, which aims to improve educational outcomes in remote areas of Western Australia. According to the Ministers’ Media Centre, the program focuses on supporting teachers through collaboration, implementing evidence-based practices, improving school attendance, and engaging with parents and the community. The Albanese Government has allocated $10 million over four years to implement this initiative in schools with a high proportion of Indigenous students. A project team will provide coaching and advice, facilitate community involvement, and offer guidance on learning materials.

 

 

International

Proposed UK Tech Restrictions for Under-16s Spark Debate

Age restrictions on technology usage in the UK have come under scrutiny recently, Express and Star reports, with a proposal to ban individuals under the age of 16 from using social media and smartphones. The proposal raises concerns about the potential risks to online safety and mental health for young people. If implemented, this policy change would significantly impact the regulation of digital technology use by minors. The ongoing conversation aims to strike a balance between technological access and measures to protect children.

 

Debates Emerge Over Government Intervention in School Uniform Costs in New Zealand

The discussion surrounding the cost of school uniforms has sparked suggestions of potential government intervention. Radio New Zealand explore different viewpoints on the financial burden that uniforms impose on families and consider whether regulatory measures should be implemented to manage expenses. Arguments include the potential advantages of standardised uniforms in promoting equality and simplifying dress codes, juxtaposed with concerns about the economic strain on household budgets. This issue also raises broader questions about social equity and the role of the state in education.

 

 

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