Census at school underway

The School 2011 CensusAtSchool questionnaire is open at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. CensusAtSchool is a free, online questionnaire and analysis tool for students in Years 5 to 12, conducted nationwide to provide real data relevant to students. 

“Previously CensusAtSchool was run every second year, but from now on it will be annual,” said Christine Sergi, ABS Director of Statistical Capability Development. “This will help teachers plan more effectively, especially as the new Australian curriculum is implemented across the country.”

Previous questionnaires attracted over 200,000 student responses that can currently be accessed through the Random Data Sampler. “This provides a rich source of statistical data and an engaging way to teach statistical concepts,” said Jean Arnott, specialist teacher consultant with the ABS. “As 2011 is also a census year, the CensusAtSchool questionnaire is a great way to raise awareness of what the census is and why it is so important.”

“With the data collected in CensusAtSchool questionnaires, we’ve designed an extensive range of resources that can be applied across the curriculum,” she said. “As well as being free of charge, CensusAtSchool resources are an easy and interesting way of increasing the statistical literacy of Australian school children’.

Key dates:

Questionnaire now open

8th July data collection phase ends

9th July 2011 data available




New version of student data tracking software release

New software allows schools to store many years worth of test and assessment results, such as NAPLAN or their own internal tests, on their own school server. They can then analyse those results graphically to identify students who are performing above or below benchmarks, class means and grade means and take appropriate action.

Version 5 includes features most requested by users, including one-click graphing, box and whiskers graphs, custom result types, custom note types, graph drill-downs and integrated spell checker.

“We find that many schools are still using Excel spreadsheets or sometimes even paper-based solutions, to try keep track of student’s test results from year to year,” says GradeXpert director Anthony Sacker. “This naturally limits their ability to effectively analyse the performance of a student, class or grade from term to term and year to year.”

When the new Australian Curriculum is finalised, it will be available as a pre-loaded set of assessments in GradeXpert, ready for teachers to add assessment results. 



p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; line-height: 11.0px; font: 39.5px Helvetica} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; line-height: 11.0px; font: 9.0px Helvetica} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 11.4px; line-height: 11.0px; font: 9.0px Helvetica}


y and secondary levels of education. 
Small grants program helps disadvantaged children
The present grants round will close in July 2011. All schools that have identified a child at disadvantage are encouraged to apply.

The Max e Grants program enables educators to apply on behalf of specific children. The funds can be used to provide schoolbooks, uniforms, fees, equipment, special tuition, excursions – anything that will help the child to participate in a full educational life.

Barnardos’ Marketing Manager, Bill Petch said: “This program has been a huge success in that it has directly benefited over 1000 children in a unique way that helps them to better participate in educational endeavours. It’s also a great help to educators, who find that children under financial hardship may not suit the terms and conditions of regular grants. There is a definite need for such grants when you consider that 20% of Australian households with children are low income families living on an average of $346 per week.”

Max e Grants are funded by OfficeMax with the financial support of several leading suppliers of educational products and supplies.


Too few Indonesian languiage learners

Organiser Prof David T Hill, Chair of South East Asian Studies at Murdoch and an expert in Indonesian studies, said that while Government recognised the strategic importance of Indonesian, not enough had been done to actively promote learning of the language at school and university level. 
“While Indonesian is still a major language in our schools, research has found that enrolments are declining nationally by an average of 10,000 students every year,” he said. 
“The number of university students studying Indonesian has also been declining steadily and relentlessly for the last decade – there was a 30 per cent drop nationally from 2001 to 2009. At least five university Indonesian programs have closed in the last eight years.
“If we do not intervene, the consequence is clear: Indonesian programs will continue to close, retiring staff will not be replaced, enrolments will continue to fall. At the same time, government departments and businesses that recruit Indonesian-speaking graduates are having difficulty securing new staff with advanced language skills.”
The National Colloquium on the Future of Indonesian in Australian Universities, brought together language experts and those who rely on the skills of Indonesian language graduates to discuss ways of increasing the number of people studying Indonesian at university level.




Survey reveals high schooling prices

new Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) survey reveals the total schooling costs bill for parents of children born in 2011. The new survey for the first time compares the costs for children attending school in metropolitan areas and regional areas.

The estimates were calculated from education costs information supplied by parents of more than 8000 children nationally from preschool to secondary school in metropolitan and regional areas

ASG’s general manager development, Frida Kordovoulos, said: “The new schooling cost estimates show parents of children attending school in regional areas reap significant benefits in terms of costs when compared to those in metropolitan areas.

The survey shows parents living in metropolitan areas can expect to pay up to $80,000 if they choose a government education setting for their children’s schooling, $217,000 for systemic e.g. Catholic, or up to $415,000 for private schooling.

Parents living in regional areas can expect costs of up to $68,000 if they choose a government education setting, $165,000 for systemic schooling or up to $303,000 for private schooling.



National 2011 school year costs
Nationally, preschool in 2011 will cost up to $4945 in a government preschool and up to $11,626 in a non-government facility.

Parents of secondary school children in metropolitan areas can expect to pay up to $4657 for government secondary schooling, $12,138 for systemic and up to $20,888 for private secondary schooling. In regional areas, the amounts are up to $4039 for government secondary schooling, $8993 for systemic and up to $16,272 at a private secondary school.

National and state-based estimates for metropolitan and regional areas are available from ASG’s website.



Outback school excursions
Territory Discoveries is hosting an educators’ educational trip to the Red Centre from 17th–21st April 2011 to allow teachers planning excursions an opportunity to visit the central Australia region and experience first hand the learning outcomes available for students.

The educational trip will visit local and remote Aboriginal communities, explores the heritage of central Australia, includes a session at the School of the Air and will immerse the participants in spectacular outback landscapes that are rich in cultural significance.
Territory Discoveries specialise in designing school excursions and can tailor make itineraries to meet subject requirements for a range of subjects including biology, Aboriginal studies, PDHD, primary industries, music, agriculture, visual arts, community and family studies, geography, earth environmental studies and photography.




Lifesaving mateship lessons

The three-year program, funded by a $327,000 Australian Research Council Discovery grant and designed by Queensland University of Technology (QUT), aims to encourage teens to protect their friends.
Lead researcher Dr Lisa Buckley, from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q), said serious injuries due to transport, violence and alcohol associated risk-taking were the main causes of teenage death.
Dr Buckley, who piloted the program in Queensland, will look at whether or not mateship can stop teens from participating in risk-taking behaviours. “After the pilot program, we saw a reduction in a number of risk-taking behaviours and in injury, including a 10 per cent drop in students injured while being violent,” she said. 
“We also found students from participating schools reported a 20 per cent increase in wearing a bicycle helmet, and we saw a 15 per cent reduction in students being injured while cycling, when compared to students from non-participating schools.”
Dr Buckley said in terms of changing attitudes, students who took a part in the program had a greater awareness of risk and actions they could take to reduce risk.
“For example when asked about protecting friends and reducing injury, one student said they would ‘try to talk them out of it’, while another said it was important to ‘take the peer pressure out of it’.” 






Think Quest 2011 competition
The Oracle Education Foundation is urging Australian schools to enter teams in the international 2011 ThinkQuest Competition. Each team may be comprised of one to six students and a coach. This year’s events are: ThinkQuest projects, Digital media, and Application development. 

Students may partner with peers within Australia or in different parts of the world. Some of the best entries in past years have been based on a collaborative effort by teams with students spread across the globe.

Previous Australian winners include a team that won first prize in the 12 Years and Under division in 2007. This team created a colourful online magazine with the aim of increasing awareness of endangered animals around the world. 

Last year saw the competition’s first Indigenous Australian student partner with students from the USA and India to submit a website on preserving Indigenous and dying languages.

First and second placed teams in each age division for each event will win a trip to ThinkQuest Live for team members and their coach, and one parent or adult chaperone per student. ThinkQuest Live is a five-day event hosted by OEF in San Francisco, with a jam-packed program of educational activities, social events and sightseeing excursions. 

The first, second and third place teams in each age division for each event will receive a laptop for each team member. The first place teams in each age division for each event will also earn a $US5,000 donation for their school or organisation.

Entries close on 27th April 2011. For entry details and competition rules visit www.thinkquest.org.


Top Arts VCE 2010 exhibition

Opening 31st March, the National Gallery of Victoria will present Top Arts: VCE 2010. Now in its 17th year, the exhibition will display 55 works by 53 students from government, Catholic and independent schools from acrosstoria. 

Exemplary drawings, photography, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, books, short films and textiles will be represented in this year’s exhibition. 

Works have been inspired by a wide range of themes, including responses to the natural and urban environment, family relationships, and consumerism. Responses to art movements and historical events are also explored with one student depicting her grandmother’s five years in Auschwitz and another drawing the brutality of the Russian Revolution. 

Merren Ricketson, Top Arts Coordinating Curator said: “Each year Top Arts highlights the unlimited creativity unleashed in art classrooms across the state.”

Students selected for the exhibition completed Art or Studio Arts last year as part of their Victorian Certificate of Education. This year 110 students were shortlisted from more than 1800 applicants. 

Top Arts is exceptionally popular with VCE students, schools and the general public. Last year, more than 90,000 people visited the exhibition. A diverse range of public programs, including opportunities to meet the exhibitors and view their developmental folios will accompany the exhibition. 

The works will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square from 31st March–19th June 2011. Hours are 10.00 am–5.00 pm. Closed Mondays. Admission is free. 





Competiiton for budding bridge builders


Designed to inspire and encourage high school students to take up STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in their electives, the competition encourages students to think laterally and solve a specific problem using engineering and technical skills.








Following the popularity of last year’s event, the competition has been expanded to additional locations in Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand.




The competition brings together schools to see who can build the strongest bridge out of balsa sticks, glue and string. On judging day in August the model bridges are tested to destruction to determine the maximum load capacity and judged on aesthetics and workmanship.

Each of the bridges entered are to be constructed during school hours from materials supplied by Aurecon: eight balsa wood sticks 6.5 mm x 6.5 mm x 580 mm long; eight balsa wood sticks 6.5 mm x 6.5 mm x 335 mm long; one cardboard tube 60 d x 60l mm; a tube of quick drying epoxy glue and a 5 m piece of string.

The St Pius X High School, overall winners of the 2010 competition, built a bridge that withstood 100.6 kg before collapsing – an incredible achievement for a 65 cm bridge span.

The school’s science teacher, Julie Healey, said the event helped her appreciate the range of specialised engineering disciplines available, commenting: “Students found participating and talking to young engineers very valuable as they had no idea the profession was so broad.”

Bill Cox, Chief Executive, Australia and New Zealand, Aurecon said: “This competition started 10 years ago and has been a resounding success; last year we had 423 students comprising 141 teams from 111 schools compete and this year we are inviting many more schools to register and join the fun.”

Prizes are awarded in each state and an overall winning design is identified. Schools can register and check locations, dates and conditions of entry at the Aurecon website.