Weekly Wrap: May 2, 2019

02 May 2019

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 CompliSpace.


Vote 2019: Where the major parties stand on education

SBS has reported on the differences between the Coalition’s and Labor’s education policy platforms. The Treasurer’s April budget announcement included $200,000 to every electorate to "support priority projects in local schools that benefit students and their communities". The Coalition claims that its school funding agreements will invest an additional $37 billion in schools over the next decade. The Coalition has also committed to the National Schools Chaplaincy program "on a permanent basis", with a new anti-bullying focus. Labor’s plans include matching the Coalition's Gonski 2.0 schools funding and spending an additional $14 billion on public schools. This would fund more than 13,000 extra teachers or 23,000 teacher's aides. Labor also plans to spend $32 million to tackle what it calls the "stagnation" of Asian language-learning in schools. Labor has also committed $300 million to "deliver individualised learning for students with a disability". The Greens want to invest $20.5 billion in additional funds to public schools over the next ten years.

Don’t rush into school reforms, experts warn

The Educator reports on a new publication by the Gratton Institute, the “Commonwealth Orange Book 2019: a policy manifesto for a better Australia”, which sets out priorities for education, housing, hospitals and infrastructure for the next Federal Government. On school education, the authors suggest that the Federal Government avoid embarking on any school funding or improvement reforms unless they are explicitly backed by evidence that shows they will work. The Institute recommends the creation of a national evidence institute, while strengthening incentives for universities to improve initial teacher education. According to Peter Goss, the Institute’s school education program director, while the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students may be comparatively larger in Australia than in other OECD countries, Australia is not an outlier.

Bullied and harassed teachers a significant problem in Australian schools, report finds

The ABC has reported that, according to a study undertaken by researchers at La Trobe University, 80 per cent of teachers have experienced some form of student or parent bullying or harassment over the past nine to 12 months. Verbal aggression was found to be the most commonly encountered form of bullying and harassment, with primary school teachers largely targeted by parents and secondary teachers by students, but their behaviour was similar. Ten per cent of teachers reported being hit or punched by a student and close to 13 per cent had their personal property damaged. Across Australia, 560 staff participated in the survey. ‘Bullying and harassment’ was broadly defined as ongoing insidious incidents that were both small and large and took many forms. It was largely mid-career teachers who experienced more bullying and harassment than teachers in their first year. The report recommended an examination of current federal and state policies and responses to teacher-targeted bullying and harassment.

Searching for the school readiness sweet spot

The Age has reported on figures from the Victorian Department of Education and Training that show an increase over the past decade in the number of older children starting prep year in Victorian state schools. As a percentage, however, older children have accounted for just over 16 per cent of enrolments in government schools for five years straight. Last year, 16.8 per cent of the 56,766 children who started prep at state schools were aged six as at April 30. A decade prior, 20.7 per cent of prep children in government schools were in that older bracket. The percentage of delayed prep children is much higher in New South Wales, with a recent study showing a quarter of the state’s children were starting school a year later than they were eligible, and the delay was helping those children fare better in kindergarten. The article reports on a range of expert views on the question of whether starting older is better.

How South Australia aims to become ‘the education state’

According to The Educator, South Australia is setting its sights on claiming that mantle of ‘the education state’ from Victoria through a ground-breaking approach to school improvement. After reviewing its annual school report plans, the South Australian Education Department found that some schools were slow to improve, partly because the support provided to schools had not been tailored enough. The Department has developed a new resource that simplifies school improvement planning for local education teams and leaders. The School Improvement Dashboard provides secure key data about each school’s student achievement and growth, student wellbeing, and organisational health. The Department’s acting chief operations officer says the dashboard is a “personalised web page for school leaders and local education teams”. It provides school leaders with the chance to identify areas for improvement and to explore that area in more detail.

High-achieving students identify the top reasons behind their schooling success

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported on a new study on students at a rural Victorian school who were achieving at least one year above what was expected for their year in numeracy and literacy standardised tests, including NAPLAN. The high-achieving students have identified their relationships with teachers and peers and participation in extra-curricular activities as three of the most important factors in their schooling. The study tracked their results throughout primary school to identify which students consistently achieved above standard, which students fluctuated and those who achieved above standard once. The paper, published in the latest edition of Issues in Educational Research, is one of the few of its kind to identify the factors that influence high-achievement by asking students to discuss their own schooling experiences.

Program helps students lock in careers of choice

The Educator reports on research that shows a significant number of young people lack certainty about their chosen career after completing their studies. A survey of more than 1,000 young people by Student Edge’s market research arm, YouthInsight, in partnership with frontline youth service ReachOut, found that many young people want more jobs to be created and additional help finding work through opportunities such as paid internships and training. According to the data, 45 per cent of young people were not confident, or were unsure, of finding work in their chosen career after completing studies; with 46 per cent fairly confident and only nine percent very confident of finding work. The article discusses a program at Redcliffe State High School, where students pursue their study and work aspirations through individualised Senior Education and Training plans.

Is your child lonely at school?

The Mandarin has published an article by academics at the University of Melbourne that indicates that young people are reporting higher levels of loneliness. Researchers are now exploring interventions to try and address loneliness in schools. A 2017 report looking at the impact of loneliness in children, young people and families found: one in 10 pre-school children say they are lonely and unhappy with their social relationships; one in five children aged seven to twelve say they are lonely sometimes or often; and four out of five adolescents report feelings of loneliness at some time, and almost a third describe these feelings as persistent and painful. Building up a sense of connectedness with school is an important way to alleviate the burden of loneliness among students, foster positive experiences with school and increase school attendance. The researchers propose a sequential, four factor model of school connectedness that draws together social, emotional, behavioural and cognitive terms that are central to learning. The four factors are attending, belonging, engagement and flow. Two of these factors – attending and belonging – focus on building relationships, and the other two – engaging and flow – are based on school performance.

Music education neglected but instrumental

According to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald, music education is vital when it comes to engaging young people with their learning. A study conducted by Professor Brian Caldwell and Dr Tanya Vaughan found that student engagement, learning outcomes and social wellbeing were all improved by the introduction of performing arts teachers in schools. Yet three out of four primary schools lack a specialist music teacher, and teaching degrees only average around 15 to 20 hours of instruction in teaching the arts. One practical solution involves sending specialist music teachers into classrooms to help generalist teachers. This enables teachers to blend professional learning into their daily schedule rather than having to find time outside classroom hours. A number of government authorities have recently committed funding to music education, recognising it is as an effective way to help students academically and socially.


Breakthrough for children with serious epileptic seizures

Scoop reports on a New Zealand-Australian study, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and published in The Lancet. Emergency medicine doctors around the world now have a better way to treat severe epileptic seizures in children, thanks to a New Zealand-Australian study. Prolonged epileptic seizures are the most common neurological emergency in children seen by hospitals. In severe seizures, the first line of treatment (benzodiazepines) only stops the seizures in 40 to 60 percent of patients. Before this study, the second line treatment was the anti-convulsant drug phenytoin, but until now this practice had never been scrutinised in a robust major randomised controlled trial. The researchers compared phenytoin with newer anti-convulsant levetiracetam for the second line treatment of seizures. The research, conducted by the PREDICT research network in 13 emergency departments at hospitals in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, involved 233 child patients aged between three months and 16 years. The researchers found that when given individually, both drugs had a moderate success rate (50-60 percent) at stopping a prolonged seizure. But treatment with one drug and then the other increased the success rate of stopping a seizure to approximately 75 percent. It also potentially halves the number of children ventilated and sent to intensive care.

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