An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t. It’s knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and it’s knowing how to use the information you get.

— William Feather

With the easing of some restrictions linked with the current pandemic, there would seem to be some positive signs. The same can also be said within the education sector. This does not indicate that problems do not, and will not, continue to exist. However, at least some of the previous problems occurring have come some way toward returning to ‘normality’.

This is certainly the case in the school education sector. Again, we would stress there are still problems to overcome. Schools though, are gradually returning to what was the previous norm of face-to-face teaching.

Some states have already done so [Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia], while others have started [ACT, different levels from 18 May to 2 June], others on 25 May [NSW, Queensland and Tasmania (Y7-10 not till 9 June)] and the last on 26 May [Victoria (Students in Grade 3 – Year 10 on 9 June)].

The most interesting aspect will be the effect of the pandemic, and what has been done to cope with this [e.g. online learning], in the future. People are suggesting various scenarios. There is also the possibility that the impact of the pandemic will have an impact on principals, as has been evidenced in numerous articles over the last several weeks. Only time will provide answers to both these areas.

This is certainly not the only education area affected. Universities, Vocational education, early childhood and international students have all been impacted to varying degrees. Universities and international students seem to have garnered the greatest attention.

There has been a continual stream of information, news and opinions about the last two and there certainly seems to be some trying times ahead. In addition to the concerns and calls for help, there have also been suggestions as to what changes may become permanent and, in some ways more interesting, suggestions as to options that could [or should] be taken up.

There is certainly the option to go back to what existed prior to this time, but there is also a mood for change to the previous status quo. Included are options to overcome some factors within our control, but there may also be factors beyond our control.

How these will affect the future are still to be worked out in order to achieve the best result for Australian universities and those who work in, or attend, them. Something to watch with great interest, and with the hope that we make the right decisions.

Early childhood has also faced the existing situation with great concern. Help has been provided in numerous ways and by various bodies. There is still great concern. A return to the previous funding system has been mooted based on nominated steps and this is raising angst among various parts of the sector. The financial situation of the nation may well be a determinant in what eventuates.

Meanwhile, the oft forgotten area of Vocational Education still earns only irregular mentions. The School-to-work pathways study showed ‘Nearly every young adult [97%] who took this pathway [which usually involves some VET] were employed full or part-time by the age of 25’, higher than any other. Speaks well for the sector.

There is also a new National Skills Commission to be established as of 1 July. As part of the process, it has already carried out consultations with the VET community. Hopefully this is a sign of a great working relationship between the two which will bring great benefit to the sector.

Much will undoubtedly depend on what happens in the economic area over the coming months. The same could be said for all areas, not just for education nor just for specific areas within education.

Again, only time and circumstances will decide the possibility of what can and cannot be done, and decisions made about the best possible options to adopt and implement. Interesting times ahead.

We have also updated another page - Curriculum has been significantly updated as you will see if you visit. We are now looking to have a similar impact on further pages during the the month ahead.

Finally, while most states are having students return to schools on a full-time basis, we have retained below links you may still find useful [or may already be aware of] which could be of value. These will remain listed for another month. They are listed under Australian and International headings.

Australian : Academy School Education Programs;   ACARA - Resources for parents and carers;   Australian Museum - Inside Out;   Digital Classroom - National Library of Australia;   Early Education - ABC Kids;   FUSE;   Learning@home;
Learning from home in a school setting;   Learning resources by year level;   Learning resources from across the nation;   Museum at Home - Museums Victoria;   National Museum of Australia;   Play-based learning for preschoolers;   School on TV! - ABC ME;   State Library Victoria;   STEM skills;   Taronga TV;   Teaching Resources;   Wootube – Find joy in learning mathematics;   Zoos Victoria;   Drama NSW;   Australian National Maritime Museum;   The Australian Ballet;   Catholic Schools NSW;   Our Learning SA.

International : 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours;   22 Museums and theme parks offering virtual tours;   30 Amazing Virtual Tours of Museums, Zoos, and Theme Parks;   BBC Teach [UK];   Exploratorium [USA];   Learning from home - Resources [NZ];   Learning Library [NZ];   National Geographic Society - Education;   Open Culture - 200 Free Kids Educational Resources;   Teaching Resources - Google for Education;   Science Education Resources [Canada];   Online Maths4all [UK];   The 75 Best Virtual Museum Tours [US/World].

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There is a continuous supply of documents produced about all aspects of education both here and overseas. It is difficult at times to select only a few each month [‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’]. Several items listed below are felt to warrant at least a mention. Many are from early this year, others from 2019, so are really current. See what you think about each and whether you agree or not. Most are Australian in origin. Follow links that pique your particular interest.

Australian Investment in Education : Higher Education

Mitchell Institute. ‘This report analyses the funding trends of Australia’s university sector over the past decade. It is published as Australia’s higher education sector faces an unprecedented set of challenges due to the impact of the coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic. The report includes modelling of the projected impact on international student revenue of Australia’s border being closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’.

Don’t waste a good crisis, even in schooling

Dean Ashenden takes an interesting look at an opportunity caused by, rather than just the current catastrophe. In doing so, he poses a number of options he feels could be viable though not always with confidence they are likely to occur. In doing so, he looks at what he believes could be the things working for or against such options. Worth considering even though [or especially because] it is a relatively short presentation.

Growing Up Digital Australia

‘A ground-breaking research project by the Gonski Institute for Education [UNSW] designed to change the status quo and understand how the widespread use of technology is impacting Australian children. In this Australian study, we seek to answer questions around how digital technologies are being used, the benefits and distractions they pose to students and whether they are bridging the divide of equity, or widening it’. Multiple topics give you the opportunity to work with research on specific aspects.

State of Early Learning in Australia Report 2019

Early Childhood Australia. ‘Early learning in Australia can only be improved when we understand its strengths and limitations. The State of early learning in Australia 2019 provides the most comprehensive summary of the early learning sector to date. Published by the Early Learning : Everyone Benefits campaign, in conjunction with the Institute for Social Science Research [ISSR] at the University of Queensland, the report nominates clear national goals and performance indicators to help track progress in the future’. Both full report and summary report available.

This virus might lead to education reform

As Chris Bonnor says - ‘Education reform is well overdue. As the need to act with speed has seen governments jettison rusted-on assumptions and ideologies in areas such as employment, health and welfare – can school education be next ? After all, there are just as many education problems sitting in the too-hard basket, many of them extremely wicked and ignored by governments for decades’. He has some interesting suggestions and links to other reports, including that from Dean Ashenden above. Short but definitely to the point.

Unpacking drivers of learning outcomes of students from different backgrounds

From the short to the long. ‘For more than a decade Australia’s performance in the Program for International Student Assessment [PISA] has been declining, both in relative and in absolute terms. At the same time, there has been little headway in narrowing differences in academic achievement between the wider student population and many student subgroups. These phenomena are related, with achievement gaps holding Australia back from reaching world leading schooling status. The research examines the outcomes of four overlapping student subgroups : Indigenous, regional, remote and low socioeconomic status [SES] students’. Fascinating, but not necessarily unexpected.

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News Headlines

Universities :

A post-coronavirus pandemic world for Australian higher education : Part 1 [20/5]

COVID-19 response continues with first Undergraduate Certificate courses accredited [20/5]

Toolkit for universities [19/5]

UA welcomes Victorian Government support package for unis [19/5]

Why is the Australian government letting universities suffer ? [19/5]

Not universities by another name [19/5]

How profitable is university teaching? [19/5]

Hats off to our educators : keep up the good on-line work [17/5]

Is COVID-19 an opportunity to strengthen online teaching ? [16/5]

More than 70% of academics at some universities are casuals. They’re losing work and are cut out of JobKeeper [15/5]

University staff cop pay cuts to save jobs [14/5]

Jim Barber has a five-step plan for higher education [14/5]

Uni-union talks [13/5]

International Students :

Student digs hit hard but will gain traction when borders reopen [20/5]

Why international students are good for Australia [19/5]

March international student numbers : the worst is yet to come [19/5]

International students supported with $200 000 in vouchers [18/5]

International numbers : three reasons why they are worse than new stats show [18/5]

Crucial win for foreign students who have lost their income [15/5]

International students may be able to enter Australia by July 2020 [14/5]

International arrivals collapsed in April [14/5]

Schools & Students :

Experts call for major intervention to help struggling students [20/5]

COVID-19 has opened our eyes to the bigger picture when it comes to tech and kids [20/5]

Schools get $1.2bn in funding blitz [19/5]

Berejiklian sends NSW students back to school full-time from May 25 [19/5]

Too Many Classes are Taught by Out-of-Field Teachers [18/5]

Building Works : Better Schools in Education Jobs Blitz [18/5]

Schools and classrooms do not act as breeding grounds for Covid-19, study says [17/5]

Eagerness of children contrasts messy, ugly pandemic politics of education [16/5]

Students head back to the classroom, but the experience will be different [15/5]

Social distancing in classrooms : can it work ? [15/5]

Compulsory schooling to resume in WA for Catholic and state schools [14/5]

Early Childhood :

Childcare package to cost $1.6 billion over 12 weeks [19/5]

Ten key questions facing ECEC leaders as they plan for a return to the CCS system [18/5]

Tehan flags end to free childcare as parents return to work [17/5]

Principals :

COVID-19 pushing principals to the brink – expert [18/5]

School principals under extreme stress, including from physical violence, well before pandemic [18/5]

Failure fears as private VET enrolment down

[The Australian, Higher Education, 19/5]

Australian teenagers feel overlooked in pandemic debate, survey reveals

[EducationHQ Australia, 18/5]

What lessons has education learned from the coronavirus crisis ?

[The Age, Education, 17/5]

How COVID-19 exposed the fault lines in Australian education

[SMH, 16/5]

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