AUSSIE EDUCATOR

Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.

— Sidney Hook

Three areas have dominated discussion over the last few weeks. At least two of these will be ongoing for some time. The areas are - changes in the university sector, school curriculum and the return to the CCS funding process in the Early Childhood sector.

The Early Childhood funding has brought a mixed response though a common feeling is best displayed by Voices within and outside the ECEC sector express[ing] disappointment at CCS revert. Others are making Predictions that more than a third of parents will cut down days on return to CCS.

Others pose Ten key questions facing ECEC leaders. Perhaps the Transition Payment Guidelines will help remove some of the concerns currently being expressed. It will be interesting to watch what happens from 13 July when the changes come into effect to fully understand what impacts and decisions have resulted with both parents and Centres.

Curriculum is one of those areas which breed discussion and beliefs in different emphases. We experience periods with little change in the curriculum through to those with an ever growing range of curriculum inclusions. As a result, we now have checks on how the curriculum is constructed, what is included and how effective the structure and implementation of this has become. One such is the Review of the Australian Curriculum, agreed to by all Education Ministers on 12 June 2020 [Foundation to Year 10].

NSW has now gone further. As one report indicates, Courses cut, syllabuses re-written in NSW curriculum overhaul. Another describes it as the ‘Biggest education shake-up in 30 years’. What is even more interesting is there are fairly tight timelines linked to the changes [e.g. “The new curriculum will start across all years by 2024”], while there are very specific targets to be achieved [“A fifth of high school electives will be cut and students required to meet an acceptable standard in every subject before finishing school”].

Hopefully the targets, supported it would seem by both teachers [with some reservations, see here], and by parents in general, will be achieved to the benefit of everyone involved. We certainly won’t have to wait too long to assess the level of achievement - the first changes are to be in place by 2022.

Having undergone a significant impact [which may last for several years] in relation to the international student situation, universities now find themselves having to cope with changes to the fees and funding structure, particularly as applied to various sectors of university study.

If you are a news voyeur, you will have been swamped by the sheer number of views, beliefs and descriptors of potential reasons why it has occurred and what the end product may be. Until the process has been either implemented, or rejected, by parliament you can expect to see a continuing stream of articles, opinion pieces, agreement, disagreement, partial examples of either, sometimes related topics and much more.

Already there are examples of all of these. Some have given partial support [see here, here, here, here and here]. Some question the basic premise [see here, here and even here]. Some prefer to follow their own study structure irrespective of possible cost to their own institution.

With the greatest impact apparent in the humanities [and cultural] area, there are plenty of defenders as to why this should not be the case. Examples of responses can be found here [multiple responses], here, here, here, here and here. Each has their own way of looking at, and responding to, what is suggested.

Others have provided different responses. Claire Field, in an interesting piece, indicated that ‘If enacted, these reforms will be the most significant since Dawkins’. In a number of articles, Andrew Norton looks at a range of factors and provides nuanced responses to many aspects. Others saw specific positives as in Uni fee reforms a boom for agriculture. Some even see the next step to be taken - Dan Tehan’s next task is to overhaul research funding.

We wait with bated breath for what is to follow. Will the reforms be enacted ?, Will further changes be made ?, Will common ground be reached ?, Where to next ?. The process will not go away any time soon and you will undoubtedly be kept up up-to-date with thoughts, beliefs and arguments for, against and for modification. We will endeavour to include enough links in our Headline collections to provide you with as much information and as many viewpoints as possible. As they say, watch this space !

We are currently working to finalise completed updates for both Professional Development pages. One has been finished but we have been delayed by other unavoidable matters. We still hope to have them both ready for uploading on 1 July. At least one page will go up, the second may be delayed slightly. Please bear with us on this. The new second page has now been uploaded

The National Student Outcomes Survey is an annual survey that collects information on vocational education and training [VET] students’ reasons for training, their employment outcomes, satisfaction with training, and further study outcomes. The survey covers students who completed nationally recognised VET delivered by registered training organisations [RTOs] in the previous calendar year’.

‘The aim of the National Student Outcomes Survey is to improve the social and economic outcomes of students who undertake VET. The information is used by national and state/territory bodies, along with local training providers, to ensure vocational training is of a high quality and relevant to Australian workplaces’. All details on the above page.

A second survey is related to the Early Childhood sector. ‘By participating in the Australian Early Education Sector COVID-19 survey, you will receive access to the final report with intelligence gathered from thousands of early education and care services.

The report will help you understand how COVID-19 has impacted your centre in comparison to similar local providers against key metrics like occupancy. This report will provide you with valuable insight into the segment, and how other services are preparing for the rebound post-COVID’. Further details from the page above.

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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.

ASQA Rapid Review Final Report

Rapid Review of the Australian Skills Quality Authority’ Regulatory Practices and Processes. ‘Within the broader reform context, this rapid review has focused on how ASQA’s regulatory practices and processes might be improved. While ASQA’s overarching vision and purpose remain appropriate, some significant adjustments are needed to ASQA’s regulatory approach’. There were 24 recommendations contained in the report and all have been accepted. Significant detail is provided on the why, the decisions made and why these recommendations were chosen.

Australian Investment in Education : Early Childhood Education and Care

Mitchell Institute. The Key Points at the beginning of the report offer a range of fascinating figures and statements while the report itself offers a range of questions [to which answers are provided] through to implications for future policy in the sector. Short in comparison to much lengthier reports but containing all you want to know about the current and even possible future of funding for the sector.

Educator Perspectives on the Impact of Covid-19 On Teaching And Learning in Australia and New Zealand

‘The survey asked educators a series of questions about their experiences with online teaching during the COVID-19 schools shutdown, and sought their views about the impacts on school children and educational outcomes. The survey results provide revealing – and in some ways alarming – insights into the realities of distance education, both for teachers and home-bound students, as communities and governments continue to face difficult choices about education during this unprecedented crisis’.

Impact of learning from home on educational outcomes for disadvantaged children

‘The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic has required schools to establish learning from home for the majority of children across Australia, bringing rapid rollout of online education. At this time, the main goal is to ensure that all children are able to continue to access learning and to move student learning forward. But not all children are equally well placed to do this. Some children are already at risk of school failure for a variety of reasons and having to learn from home brings with it some major additional challenges for them’. As the report asks ‘What challenges does home learning present for these groups of vulnerable students ?’.

The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey

2019 Data. In recent times there have been numerous articles on the high level stresses and strains on Principals in schools. While this survey reflects the situation in 2019, current factors may well mean the situation is worse. ‘The survey has engaged over 50% of Australia’s school leaders. In 2019, approximately 94.5% of participants have participated in the survey multiple times. The factors which contribute to lower principal’s health and wellbeing are not isolated to school sector, school type, socioeconomic background or geolocation, only the degree of occurrence differs’. Hopefully, there will be improvement in the near future.

What Works in Online Distance Teaching and Learning

‘This Spotlight identifies best practice evidence to guide teachers on setting up online learning and advice teachers can give to parents during this process. Key consideration is given to principles demonstrated to benefit student outcomes and wellbeing. As such, this Spotlight is written from the perspective of teachers’.

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News Headlines

Universities :

Humanities Fightback : CASSH Skills vs STEM [8/7]

The Tehan package : perverse outcomes and cash for the quick [8/7]

Can a block grant system work on lower per student funding rates ?

[7/7]

Regional Universities Roundtable series to kick off this Wednesday [7/7]

Three myths about contract cheating and what to do about the reality [7/7]

Policy questions the grad reform package should answer [but probably won’t] [6/7]

University fee increase could put legal knowledge out of reach : ACT Law Society [6/7]

Respect the humanities, they are essential for innovation [3/7]

Defunding arts degrees is the latest battle in a 40-year culture war [3/7]

Dan Tehan botches higher education funding reform [3/7]

Correction post – true average costs, whether average costs are true, and that chart [3/7]

Merlin Crossley on the why and how of investing in young academics [2/7]

Job-ready graduates : bring in the academic planners ! [2/7]

The Covid approach to education must not become standard practice [2/7]

International Students :

Coronavirus : Threat to $12.5bn in education exports [7/7]

Wanted : 100 000 students or else [6/7]

Work visa sweetener for international uni students [6/7]

Students in China heed their government’s warnings against studying in Australia – less than half plan to come back [6/7]

Will Chinese students want to study abroad post-COVID-19 ? [4/7]

Australia set to ease visa hardship for foreign students [3/7]

Schools, Teachers & Students :

School holidays extended in Melbourne as State Govt mulls return to online learning [7/7]

Early uni offers to target students disadvantaged by COVID-19 [7/7]

Catholic school systems to face more funding transparency [6/7]

Teacher recruitment in the ‘new normal’ [6/7]

Just one in five students learning media literacy, as news consumption rises [6/7]

‘Grave social injustice’ : WA state school students shortchanged as money rains down on private schools [6/7]

Remote learning tough for teachers working from home with many clocking extra hours, survey finds [5/7]

Will curriculum reform take students back to basics, or prepare them for the future ? [5/7]

Principals sound alarm as students take up vaping, become black market ‘dealers’ [5/7]

STEM camp goes online [4/7]

Remote learning exposed deep digital divide in schools, teachers say [4/7]

New progress check for Years 5, 9 hailed as ‘enlightened’ test [4/7]

Victoria continues to fall short when it comes to public school fundingr [3/7]

NSW curriculum review is a fail [3/7]

Return to class to be reviewed ‘day-by-day’ as school spread widens [2/7]

Why digital literacy must begin in the classroom [2/7]

Early Childhood :

Statement on fee relief for Victorian parents [7/7]

NSW Department releases annual fee update for mobile and occasional care services [7/7]

Workers and parents fear childcare centres in hotspots could fail [6/7]

Vocational Education :

VET reform depends on funding certainty [8/7]

Free TAFE Expansion To Boost Skills And Drive Economic Recovery [7/7]

TasTAFE gets top mark from students [2/7]

$57 million recovery package for WA TAFE and training sector [2/7]

What is good practice in teaching digital skills in VET programs ? [1/7]

Other :

Importance of evidence-based decision making for leaders highlighted in UNSW paper [8/7]

Student assessment requires a rethink – report [7/7]

New research hubs to lead innovation in Australia [2/7]

National Police Check no longer valid in South Australia when working with children [2/7]

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