Disengaged Victorian students
A $10 million initiative aimed at young Victorians not in formal education and training has been launched. Through the Youth Transition Support Initiative, 24 support workers will help young people aged 15–19 years to find training and job opportunities. The program has been designed to give young people a second chance by improving their job prospects. The 24 transition support workers will help young people who have not completed Year 12 or its equivalent, who are not currently in education and training and who are not currently employed. The youth workers will provide personalised support to help them move on to further study or training. The support workers are employed by organisations with strong community and education and training links. These include UnitingCare Cutting Edge Youth Services in Shepparton, St Lukes Anglicare in Bendigo, Centacare in Ballarat and Barwon Youth in Geelong.

Victoria has the highest Year 12 completion rate and post compulsory participation rate of any state but this initiative extends the commitment to helping more young people to pursue a range of pathways.

Future leaders
Leadership runs in the family for PLC Sydney’s newly elected 2008 School Captain, Alexandra Constantin. Her brother, Harry Constantin, is also the current School Captain at Trinity Grammar School.
The new PLC Sydney leadership body recently attended its annual Leadership Conference in Sydney where the team listened to guest speakers, participated in seminars, worked in groups and discussed and planned for the future of the College.

Alexandra hopes to establish a greater bond between year groups and to help other students achieve their goals.

Principal Dr William McKeith is confident the new leaders will make fine role models for the student body. ‘Our leadership program is an excellent training ground for global leaders and it is the fine tradition of this school that the high expectations we set for our leaders are exceeded,’ he said.

Qld makes a smart move
Queensland has unveiled a new strategy to improve the health, well-being and fitness levels of its students.

The Smart Moves – Physical Activity Programs was developed following a review of physical activity. The survey of Queensland children released by Queensland Health recently showed that more than one in five children were overweight or obese – a big jump from five per cent in the 1960s.

The aim of Smart Moves is to provide greater opportunities for children to get involved in regular sport or physical activity. Smart Moves will increase the curriculum time in which students are engaged in physical activity and the quality of that activity. The program was based on recommendations that:
•    All primary schools are to allocate 30 minutes of physical activity per day as part of the school curriculum;
•    Schools are to ensure they work with junior sporting organisations to maximise the use of school and community facilities for the benefit of the broader community; and
•    All state primary classroom teachers are to undertake professional development in the delivery of physical activity.
As part of Smart Moves, all state schools will be required to develop a Physical Activity Action Plan, which will show how schools plan to address the six key components of the program.

WA Indigenous education
A $28 million strategy to tackle indigenous education and training was unveiled last term in Broome. The WA Government is investing in a range of initiatives to improve the learning opportunities for Aboriginal people including the expansion of a highly successful Aboriginal school-based traineeship (ASBT) program.

The aim is to create an additional 2175 Aboriginal school-based traineeships as part of this multi-pronged initiative, which also includes a major upgrade of Kimberley TAFE.

The Government has also committed to an expansion of the Broome Residential College to allow more secondary students from remote areas of the Kimberley to undertake education. The number of indigenous young people staying at school until Year 12 in WA has increased from 392 in 2004 to 494 in 2006 and the number of indigenous youth taking up apprenticeships increased by a massive 245 per cent from 2001 to 2006. Despite this, a mere 4.8 per cent of the WA’s 34 800 apprentices and trainees are Aboriginal. The funds will be directed towards the construction of stages one and two of the Broome Residential College in conjunction with the Catholic Education Office and a $6 million upgrade of Kimberley TAFE, which includes a new music studio, computer laboratory, alterations and improvements to existing trade workshops and a new laboratory for aquaculture students.

Books for blind children
Rafe Manuell from Willoughby in Sydney may be legally blind but nothing can dampen this spirited two-year-old’s smile as he enjoys the excitement and wonder of storybooks.

When Rafe was newborn he was diagnosed with aniridia, an eye condition where the iris does not develop. ‘Rafe was diagnosed with the condition on the same day we were due to bring him home from the hospital,’ explained David Manuell. ‘The diagnosis came completely out of the blue, we didn’t expect it at all.’

Since then, Vision Australia has been working closely with Rafe’s family to ensure that he achieves life’s milestones.
‘Children learn by watching,’ says Anna McCauley, Children’s Occupational Therapist for Vision Australia. For children like Rafe, this is more challenging but Vision Australia teaches the techniques required to compensate.’

Thanks to Vision Australia’s Feelix library, Rafe was able to immerse himself in the magic and wonder of books during Children’s Book Week 18th–24th August.

Feelix is a unique library service that loans book kits to young borrowers who are blind or have low vision. If your school would like to help, please donate by calling 1800 42 20 77 or visit www.visionaustralia.org.

Ask the children
A new study is helping teachers, educationalists and parents understand and support children in the development of overall well-being. The question: How do kids define well-being? was the starting point for this study conducted by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. The research is the latest in a series called Ask the Children. The study aims to make kids’ views known to the public and to decision-makers.

Conducted jointly with the Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre of the University of Western Sydney, An Overview of Children’s Understandings of Well-being explored the views of 126 children and young people and revealed some surprising facts about what makes up and affects kids’ sense of well-being.

The study found that kids think of well-being in terms of both positives and negatives and strongly link well-being with their emotional life, their relationships and connections with others. Three factors emerged as most important to kids in understanding well-being: feeling that they had some control over their lives and that they could influence things; security, feeling physically and emotionally safe; and having a positive sense of self, feeling like a good person.

For a copy of An Overview of Children’s Understandings of Well-being contact the Commission or visit www.kids.nsw.gov.au

Charter for primaries
A draft Primary School Charter that simplifies the curriculum and proposes core areas of learning has been released by the Australian Primary Principals’ Association.

The draft Charter is the result of a forum in Sydney where 35 of the nation’s leading educationalists, including academics, principals, teachers and parents examined the question: ‘What are primary schools and what is their role in the education system?’

The National President of APPA, Leonie Trimper, said the draft Charter sought to answer two key questions – ‘What should primary schools be like’ and ‘What is the purpose of primary schools’. She said that the end result was a draft Charter that reflected the majority of views.

The forum concluded there were four prime core curriculum areas that were essential to primary education – English, mathematics, science and history. The draft Charter is now being circulated to more than 7000 primary schools, educationalists and parent associations for comment.

Once feedback has been received and collated, the charter will be revised to take into account the key comments and then be submitted to the Federal and State Governments for consideration.

For more information contact either Geoff Scott at Blacktown South Primary School, Sydney, mob 0427 451 359 or Christine Hatzi at West Lakes Shore Primary School in Adelaide, mob 0401 997 773.

Gifted education workshops
The federal Goverment has announced funding of $600 000 for 40 10-day residential schools in gifted education for teachers and $600 000 for 50 new workshops for parents in rural, regional and low socio-economic metropolitan areas.

The residential schools for teachers will offer a 10-day course in gifted education to train teachers to be coordinators and mentors of gifted education in their schools.

The workshops will focus on strategies for the identification of gifted students and will outline how best to cater for their special needs in schools.

Making a difference
South Australian schools were standouts in this year’s National Literacy and Numeracy Week (NLNW) Awards. SA took out three of the 15 national prizes with Excellence Award winners gaining $10 000.
The SA winners included Braeview Junior Primary School (Government Excellence Award), Scotch College (Non-Government Excellence Award) and St Monica’s Parish School, Walkerville (Non-Government Excellence Award). Highly Commended Awards went to Kingston-on-Murray Primary School, Mount Gambier North Primary School, Mannum Community College and St Paul’s College, Gilles Plains.

Nine Queensland schools were also awarded for making a difference to literacy and numeracy education.
Pomona State School on the Sunshine Coast, received a $10 000 Excellence Award in recognition of the work being done to help students get ahead.

Through its Pathways to Success for Every Child initiative, Pomona has reduced the number of students requiring literacy and numeracy support and increased the number of students who attained the national benchmarks.

The schools which won $5000 Highly Commended Awards were Good News Lutheran School, Seven Hills State School, Thornlands State School, Millmerran State School, Park Ridge State High School, Toowoomba South State School, Boondall State School and Kimberley Park State School.
National Literacy and Numeracy Week was held from 3rd–9th September.