Promethean new HQ and Australian distributor
Promethean, a leader in interactive classroom solutions, has made a big investment in the Asia Pacific, opening new headquarters located in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, complementing the 2006 opening of its flagship Shenzhen manufacturing facility.

‘The interactive technology market has seen significant worldwide growth over the last few years – our business in APAC doubled in 2006–2007,’ said Mark Reeves, President of APAC and Emerging Markets.

‘Opening a new headquarters in Causeway Bay signifies our commitment to the region, enables us to realise our education vision and ensures we have the infrastructure to continually support our rapidly expanding business.’

Promethean has appointed DH Technology as distributor of its range of interactive whiteboard solutions in Australia. DH will focus on selling and supporting the entire range.
DH says it will focus on developing and supporting Promethean’s products through resellers, extensive training programs and marketing initiatives.

‘DH Technology is very excited about the opportunity to partner with Promethean and will continue to grow the Promethean interactive white board market in Australia through our dedicated and pro-active reseller channel.

‘Promethean has a unique product offering for education that we would like to see integrate learning in classroom environments around Australia,’ said Stephen Joyce, National Sales Manager of DH Technology.

Consultancy offers staff performance reviews
David Robson, owner and principal consultant of OnBoard Consulting, is offering objective, non-threatening performance reviews to schools needing independent assessment of staff performance.
He sees his review process as bridging the gap between when a principal or board member first starts to become concerned about a staff member, and the institution of formal dismissal proceedings.

The Onboard Consulting review process is based on his 35 years of experience as a teacher, science senior, principal and board member. It is designed to provide an informed and unbiased assessment of the teacher’s performance and attitude to work, at a time when this has been called into question.

A concise, non-threatening OnBoard Consulting performance review can be a welcome opportunity for the teacher concerned to ‘Have an outside person brought in to listen to their side of the story’, David Robson says.

A full review normally takes one day. It takes the form of a directed interview with the reviewee for approximately two and a half hours in the morning. This is followed by shorter interviews in the afternoon, with up to six other participants who speak on the reviewee’s behalf. There is a short meeting afterwards with the initiator of the review. A written report is completed, as soon as practicable after the day of the review, and a follow-up document is completed by the reviewee after receipt of the OnBoard Consulting report.

David Robson has also had extensive experience in the implementation of the Carver system of board governance and has conducted a case study of the implementation of this system in two schools. This became the basis of a PhD completed through Griffith University Queensland in 2006.
Contact David Robson at (08) 8388 3978 or visit www.onboardconsulting.com.au

21st Century Learning Institute launched
The Oracle Education Foundation (OEF) has launched its first 21st Century Learning Institute to help educators worldwide successfully integrate project learning and 21st Century learning skills into the classroom.

The Institute will use the Foundation’s global technology programs, Think.com and ThinkQuest, to showcase exceptional project-learning examples and help teachers produce projects as a part of their training experience.

‘The 21st Century Learning Institute is designed to help educators around the globe successfully implement project learning into everyday curriculum, so that students walk out the school door with the skills needed for life and work in the 21st Century,’ said Clare Dolan, Vice President, Oracle Education Initiatives.

‘These students will not only possess a firm knowledge of basic skills like reading and math, they will also acquire the soft skills needed to succeed in a global economy – 21st Century learning skills like critical thinking, creativity, cross-cultural understanding, and teamwork.’

OEF has been a strong proponent and leader in the 21st Century skill development movement. From its technology programs, Think.com and ThinkQuest, to its grant making philosophy, professional development programs and education partnerships, OEF’s mission is to help students gain vital skills needed for future academic and career success.

The 21st Century Learning Institute will provide teachers with an opportunity to carry this vision into the classroom environment. It will also help address growing demand for a project approach to learning as more educational institutions, governments and ministries recognise how 21st Century learning skills are critical to students’ success in a knowledge-based economy.

Paralympic Education Program
The Telstra Paralympic Education Program (TPEP) aims to share the common philosophy of Paralympic athletes to Australian students: to be the best that they can be.

The key values of Paralympic sport are: empower, achieve and inspire. The TPEP introduces these values through a range of learning experiences for middle/upper primary school students nationally, through a teaching resource and the Athlete Correspondence Program.

The teaching resource embraces diversity and inclusion as its key themes and has been designed as a supplementary resource to allow for easy implementations for teachers.

There are a series of activities and lesson plans that cover a wide range of key learning areas including: English, maths, studies of society and environment/ human society and its environment, creative arts, music and personal development/health/physical education.

The Athlete Correspondence Program is an exciting complement to the teaching resource which links schools to a Paralympic athlete who will correspond with students through email and/or personal visits.
Contact www.paralympiceducation.org.au to register your school; access is immediate.

Jeans for Genes fundraiser
Jeans for Genes® is inviting school students to get involved in one of the easiest and most fun charity days of the year. The message is ‘Get together in your jeans’ and make a donation to the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) on Friday 1st August, Jeans for Genes Day.

Taking part in Jeans for Genes means students are part of a mass denimstration to show support for children’s health. When an entire school – students and staff members – all wear denim and donate a gold coin, the effort quickly becomes very worthwhile.

It only takes one ‘genie’ – as Jeans for Genes Day supporters are known – with a couple of friends, to take the lead by promoting and managing the day to help their schoolmates contribute to medical science.

Schools are also encouraged get a group of students, parents and teachers together and register to selling Jeans for Genes merchandise at a train station, shopping mall or on the street. It’s great fun and all volunteers receive a free Jeans for Genes T-shirt to wear on the day.

For schools with a strong musical program, the organisers suggest a Jamm for Genes performance in the week leading up to 1st August. Jamm is the up-and-coming support act to Jeans for Genes Day. It’s when venues around Australia – schools, pubs and clubs – play all kinds of music and shake the jam jar for donations.

Aspiring genies can learn more at www.jeansforgenes.org.au.
Contact Volunteer coordinator Lynda Dave at ldave@jeansforgenes.org.au

Schools and the Privacy Act

The Privacy Act does not differentiate between the privacy of young people and that of adults, but there are a number of privacy-related issues that are of particular relevance in a school environment.

The Act regulates the collection, storage, use and disclosure of personal information held by Australian and ACT government agencies and all large and some small private sector organisations. All government schools in the ACT and large private schools (with a turnover of over $3 million) are covered by the Act. Public schools in other states are governed by State privacy laws (in those states where such laws exist).

The Act does not specify an age at which a child is able to make decisions about the handling of their personal information. Rather, a child’s capacity needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.
In a school environment, probably the most relevant privacy issues are those of disclosing scholastic information and any information arising from counselling services.

The Act is not intended to be a barrier to the standard practice of schools informing parents (or legal guardians) about their child’s academic performance. Using or disclosing this information, such as providing performance reports to parents would, in most circumstances, be within the child’s expectations, even if they would prefer the disclosure not to occur.

However, schools should be careful about sharing scholastic information with anyone other than the child and their parents, such as other students. Such disclosures should only be made with their consent or where they would fall within their reasonable expectations.

Good practice, especially for older students, would be to have a policy on the handling of information resulting from counselling sessions and to provide copies to students and their parents.

In deciding whether or not to provide the information to parents, schools should bear in mind the capacity of the student to make decisions, the nature of the information, and the student’s expectations.

It is important to note that the information can be provided to parents where the school believes it is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious and imminent threat to a student’s life, health or safety.
The  Office of the Privacy Commissioner has a number of resources that will be of use to teachers which are available at www.privacy.gov.au

Student privacy competition

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner holds a competition for students as part of the annual Privacy Awareness Week (24–30th August 2008). This year’s competition is open to Australian secondary school students and involves the submission of a two-minute video on personal reflections on privacy. Information on the competition and Privacy Awareness Week can be found at www.privacyawarenessweek.org