NSW Education Expo
Australia’s biggest education expo will be staged this year on June 14–15 at the Exhibition Centre at Rosehill Racecourse, Sydney. Entry and parking are free.

The expo program includes stage performances, presentations and seminars on a wide range of topics. As in previous years, a large number of educational equipment and services suppliers will exhibit.
Visit www.edexpo.info and contact tel (02) 6643 4643.

Beijing Olympics resources

The Australian Federation of Societies for Studies of Society and Environment (AFSSSE), with assistance from the Australia-China Council, has produced four inquiry units of work about the Beijing Olympics. Suitable for students in Years 9–10 the resource aims to build a better understanding of China. The four units each have a different focus: historical and cultural; geographical; environmental and economics.

The units can be downloaded from www.afssse.asn.au
The Australian Olympic Committee has produced a national primary resource containing over 60 primary cross-curriculum lessons The resource is available to download for free by joining the ASPIRE school network.
Visit www.olympics.com.au/Education

ACT tops student retention rates
The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services 2008 shows the ACT retains 88.9% of students to Year 12 compared to a national average of 76.1%. Within an increasingly competitive workforce, retention rates have become an important indicator of student preparedness for further education or employment.

ACT Minister for Education and Training, Andrew Barr, said: ‘Continuing with school-based education through to Year 12 has become increasingly important for students who intend to undertake further study or enter the modern workforce. This report indicates that ACT students are well prepared for these challenges.

‘The new Federal Government has set a target of lifting retention rates to 85% by 2015 and 90% by 2020. With a retention rate of 88.9%, the ACT is well ahead of this reform program.’
Educators sued for poor teaching?

A Queensland University of Technology law researcher has warned Australian school teachers that they could be dragged through the courts for educational malpractice if they do not teach their students adequately. But it was not yet known whether they could be sued successfully, according to Rosemary Dalby, a PhD researcher in the QUT Faculty of Law.

Ms Dalby said that in today’s litigious society, educational litigation was a dangerous precedent to set. She has embarked on a study to investigate whether malpractice cases could be successful in Australia and says it is only a matter of time before teachers find themselves in the legal crosshairs.

‘Educational malpractice is a potential growth area for litigation in Australia, it’s in the air,’ Ms Dalby said. ‘In fact, teachers and schools have already been sued but the public isn’t aware of it because the cases were settled before they got to court.

‘The only case to come close was when a school in Victoria was ordered to pay damages after a class failed their exam because they weren’t taught the right book.’

Ms Dalby said teachers and schools could already be held responsible for physical harm, like bullying, or psychological harm, like discrimination of disability, but it was not yet known whether schools had a duty of care to protect students from poor teaching.

‘If a student hasn’t learned something properly, whose fault is it? Perhaps the teacher has not taught the class adequately or maybe the student has not learned for other reasons, like non-supportive parents or issues at home,’ she said.

Ms Dalby said schools in the UK had been successfully sued for educational malpractice when cases of dyslexia had not been identified, but in the USA, where litigation seems to be a way of life, suing for educational malpractice had not flourished because judges erred on the side of teacher freedom.
‘If educational litigation were to take hold in Australia, it could be to the detriment of teaching in the long term,’ she said. ‘There is a genuine risk that the threat of litigation could deter teachers from innovation.’

She said part of her study would look at the legal argument of both sides, the existing standards of teaching and the possible causes of action in educational litigation.
Contact Rachael Wilson email rachael.wilson@qut.edu.au

Online music and worksheet service is a jem
The J.E.M. Site is a new teacher resource website (www.thejemsite.com) offering teachers the ability to search, purchase and download a music and worksheet-based teaching resource for less than $2 per song. It is the brainchild of music teacher Jennifer Billard.

Her vision is to create a unique teacher resource with easy and immediate access via the internet that will reinforce or increase children’s educational potential and bring greater quality and ease to teaching. 
The J.E.M. Site is also open to parents and tutors, so that the resources offered can be applied to home tutoring or parents’ needs for their children at home.

The product consists of targeted teaching concepts set to music, written and recorded by The J.E.M Site. The music is age appropriate and covers a wide range of contemporary styles. Support materials come free with each song download. These consist of lyric/action sheets, teaching suggestions and a related activity or worksheet. 

The aim is to create the minimum amount of work for the teacher, so the support materials are suitable for photocopying. The songs are downloaded in the compact mp3 format. This not only means that the download time is considerably decreased but teachers can easily load the songs onto an iPod and play them through iPod speakers.  Alternatively, teachers can convert the mp3 format music to the regular Wav format and burn the song onto a CD. 

Songs can be selected in four different ways; by topic, music style, educational level and by key word search.
Contact www.thejemsite.com

New Qld school certificate
From 2008, Queensland high school students will receive a new school certificate that recognises school-based academic performance and workplace, university and community achievements.
The Queensland Certificate of Education (QEC) will replace the existing Senior Certificate and students can begin accumulating credits towards their senior school certificate from the start of Year 10. The new certificate means students can have certain achievements from community or sporting activities taken into account for their senior qualification.

The Certificate gives senior students more flexibility, with those who were not awarded a certificate by the end of Year 12 being able to continue their studies to accumulate credits. To receive a QCE, students must achieve 20 credits, including a minimum of 12 in completed core subjects and up to eight credits from the non-core studies. The Queensland Studies Authority will oversee the new QCE's implementation.

Venue change for Vic Education Show
Presented last year for the first time, at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, the 2008 event will move this year to Caulfield Racecourse on 8–9 August.
The inaugural event attracted over 2400 teachers and the organisers anticipate that the Caulfield venue, which is easy to get to and offers plenty of parking, will attract many more this year.
Presentations on school leadership, administration, key education issues and ideas for the classroom will be presented during the show.
Contact Resources for Courses tel (03) 9596 8881 or visit www.theeducationshow.com.au

How to avoid school bag back injuries
As thousands of kids loaded up their bags and to class, a University of Western Sydney health expert is warning parents to pay close attention to preventing their suffering a back injury.

Prof Gregory Kolt, a physiotherapist, health psychologist, and Head of the UWS School of Biomedical and Health Sciences says a poorly fitted backpack or heavy load can quickly cause muscle fatigue, but there are several easy steps to avoid problems.

‘A key to preventing back injury is remembering humans are designed to be symmetrical. Carrying a load unevenly in bag slung over one shoulder or a poorly fitted backpack throws out this balance, places strain on muscles and can cause serious damage which can continue into adulthood,’ he says.

He suggests that parents should select a backpack which is the right size for their child, rather than one which will hold the most or one they will grow into.

‘Look for a backpack which holds the load snug against the back to keep the extra weight as close as possible to your child’s natural centre of gravity. This stops them from having to tip forward to compensate,’ he says.

The bag should have a semi rigid bottom panel or insert which keeps the load from slipping away from the body.

It should also have padded shoulder straps and panels against the back. A poorly designed backpack forces muscles into an unnatural, asymmetrical, position to support the load. This causes some muscles to stretch and some to tighten to compensate, leading to muscle spasm and pain. In the presence of pain, muscles often tighten further to protect or brace the painful area.

The longer muscles are kept in unnatural positions, the harder it is to restore balance and repair the damage which can include strained muscles and longer-term changes in posture,’ Prof Kolt says.

Schoolgirl Jordan already studying to be teacher
Biloela schoolgirl Jordan Hoyland is already studying university-level teaching subjects, despite having a year to go before completing secondary studies.

The 16-year-old Year 11 student at Biloela State High School has completed the subject Learning Management and is now enrolled in Futures at Central Queensland University.

‘I’m eager to get head starts whenever I can, and so starting uni while I’m at school sounded like a good idea,’ Jordan said.

‘I have chosen a teaching career which has minimal pre-requisites, so when it came to studying subjects that I didn’t need versus starting down the path to my goals, obviously getting closer to your goals is the better option, so I went for it.’

Jordan said she is getting good support from her teachers and lecturers – as well as the other students via email and the online forums – and believes she will be able to cope with juggling Year 12 and university.

She recently had the chance to show her responsibility and maturity when she acted as a chaperone for younger school students who were visiting CQU Rockhampton on an excursion.

Jordan may have a full program of study but she is not neglecting other pursuits. ‘I’m on the open girls’ soccer team after school, and I love to draw whenever I can. I used to go horse riding every week too, and in the warmer weather I usually join a bunch of friends for sport on a Sunday afternoon,’ she said.
CQU is now encouraging a greater range of high school students to get a headstart on their career by studying university courses while still in school.

Vice-Chancellor Prof John Rickard launched the Start Uni Now (SUN) program in the last quarter of 2007. The program encourages students in years 10, 11 and 12 to undertake individual university courses to start their university career and possibly graduate early.

‘Similar to the programs that exist for TAFE courses and apprenticeships, CQU courses will contribute toward a student’s Year 12 senior certificate and will be credited towards a university degree after high school,’ explained CQU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professoor and Executive Dean Richard Smith.
‘In fact, if a student passes all their courses and meets all the prerequisites, they can be guaranteed entry into a CQU undergraduate degree related to their SUN courses.’

Students are eligible to enrol in one course per term, with no more than four courses during their period of study. Courses in learning management, accounting, creative enterprise, history, animation, dance, marketing, computing, and organisational behaviour are just some on offer to students. Courses are offered both on-campus for face-to-face teaching and online for convenience.

SUN program students are recognised as CQU students, and as such will have access to all the CQU student support services and facilities.

‘One of the great benefits for high school students is having access to the wonderful resources of the CQU Library, which enables online links to the contents of other libraries around the world,’ Prof Smith said.
for more information visit website www.cqu.edu.au/sun

Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference
Educators interested in learning about technologies available to support struggling students will meet at the third biennial Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference from 12–15 May on the Gold Coast.

Participants will learn how these technologies can improve independent achievement for students with learning disabilities, students with disabilities or those with literacy difficulties because English is not their first language.

The conference will be a useful opportunity to answer teachers’ questions about what is available and how to use it effectively in the classroom. The 40 International and Australian speakers who will present at the conference include teachers with many years experience in either regular classrooms or in special education settings.

Keynote speaker for the conference, Pati King-DeBaun, is a speech language pathologist who has specialised in communication for children with severe disabilities. Also speaking at the conference will be Kelly Fonner and her business partner Scott Marfilius, who present joint workshops.
Contact Spectronics tel (07) 3808 6833 www.spectronicsinoz.com/conference

WA trawls for teachers
In an effort to fill teacher vacancies, The WA Dept of Education and Training is participating in immigration expos in the UK, Ireland and Scotland as well as conducting information sessions with graduate teachers.

Visits to the UK by Department of Education and Training staff, have been backed by advertising in British newspapers. As well, a DVD and promotional booklet have been developed featuring teachers from overseas currently teaching in rural public schools and promoting WA’s lifestyle and employment opportunities.

Meanwhile, an interstate recruitment campaign that illustrates a disparity between teachers’ salaries in Victoria and WA has generated comments about staff ‘poaching’ and the potential to affect the quality of education in Victoria.

Voiceless announces new Humane Resources Prize for educators
Voiceless brings together like-minded compassionate Australians from the legal, academic, non-profit and education sectors to form strong and effective networks dedicated to animal protection.
Last year, the Voiceless Grants Program awarded grants ranging from $15,000 to $1,500 to a range of projects, all with the common purpose of helping animals.

In 2008, Voiceless will award a new prize aimed at promoting humane resources in the Australian education system. The prize will be awarded at the end of 2008, along with the annual Animal Club Humane School Prize and Voiceless Animal Advocates Student of the year Award.

The Humane Resources Prize will be awarded to a teacher or other educator who develops the best Australian-based humane education resource, as judged by Voiceless. The resource must be able to used in conjunction with State or National curricula.

The prize will recognise the important efforts and achievements of humane educators working in Australia, encourage the development of humane education resources and to draw attention to the area of humane education.

School grants or ‘seed funding’ are also available throughout the year via Voiceless’ educational initiative, Animal Club.

For education, sponsorship and general enquiries contact Elaine Morris tel (02) 9357 0723, mob 0419 637 036 or send an email to elaine@voiceless.org.au

Register for Australia’s Biggest Cricket Game

Cricket Australia, in partnership with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, invites all Australian schools to participate in the CricKids Australia’s Biggest Cricket Game on Thursday 20th March 2008.

CricKids Australia’s Biggest Cricket Game aims to encourage children to celebrate cultural diversity and inclusion through Australia’s favourite sport, while reinforcing the Living in Harmony program message.
In its inaugural year last year, over 148,000 participants from more than 920 schools from across the country joined in the fun and excitement of the day.

Students, teachers, parents, grandparents and members of the community played informal cricket games during lunchtime and, at the same time, set a national record for the number of people playing cricket on the same day.

Registered schools will receive CricKids Australia’s Biggest Cricket Game posters, a cricket bat and giveaways for all participants.

To register your school for the CricKids Australia’s Biggest Cricket Game, log onto www.cricket.com.au/ABCGame

Dorothea Mackellar Awards seek young poets
Students across Australia are being urged to visit their local bushland, river, beach or wetland to find inspiration for the 2008 Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards.

This year, Australia’s largest poetry writing event for school students is combining environmental education with creative expression. Students are encouraged to write a poem along the theme ‘Forests, feathers, fins and fur’.

Teachers and students can access information on the awards, tips on poetry writing and how to tackle the theme at www.dorothea.com.au. The website also has information on native plants and animals, which has been put together by the Namoi Catchment Management Authority.

Children’s authors Sue Gough and Prue Mason will judge this year’s poems. There is more than $5000 worth of prizes to be won for students and schools including cash, trophies, books and a trip to the National Presentation Ceremony in Gunnedah, north-west NSW.

The awards are divided into several primary and secondary categories, including one for students requiring learning assistance in the classroom. There is also a School’s Award for the school whose entries demonstrate a high overall standard.

The awards attract more than 15,000 entries from nearly 1000 schools across the country. They are supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training and is an activity associated with National Literacy and Numeracy Week.

Named after Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar who wrote ‘My Country’, the awards are hosted by Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society based in Gunnedah.

Entries open in March and close 2 June 2008.

For more information and to download an entry form or enter the awards on-line visit www.dorothea.com.au

WA program adds SPICE for science teachers
A multi-million dollar program is allowing Western Australian science teachers to return to university to research and develop new classroom resources for secondary schools. The $5 million SPICE program gives public school science teachers the opportunity to work with leading scientists at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

The program is helping the teachers to tap into the latest university research into topics such as nuclear medicine and whale beachings and to then bring science to life in the classroom.

‘The concept behind SPICE is to enrich science teaching, to spice it up and to make it interesting and to try to use the research here at UWA,’ explains SPICE program coordinator Dr Jan Dook.

‘Hopefully, this gives students and teachers an idea of the sorts of opportunities that are available to them.’

The SPICE program is a joint venture involving the university and WA’s Department of Education and Training. In effect, it lets teachers peek behind the doors of the university’s research labs to help keep them abreast of current trends and develop resources to take back to the classroom.

‘If you engage the teachers, get them interested and give them some really interesting stuff to do, it’s going to transfer over to the kids,’ Dr Dook says.

'Even if those kids aren’t interested in science as a career, it still gives them an appreciation of what’s happening in Australia.’

The SPICE program also lets the teachers involved develop new and different ways of getting this material across to their students. For instance a set of teaching resources that includes films and interactive DVDs for senior high school science students has been developed.

Dr Dook says the resources explore topics such as the use of radio-isotopes in nuclear medicine; theories involving the reasons why whales beach themselves along the WA coast; and research involving honey possums and ecosystems.

She says the resources are free to public school teachers and can be loaded onto school servers to allow for whole-school use. Eventually, they will be available via the DET website.

Although the resources might involve university research topics, they follow the concepts that are part of the high school science curriculum.