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the professional voice of the Independent Education Union

V.40#3, 2010

Time for a change n Marine studies n Fighting the head monsters

special needs funding Time for a change

Print Post No. 243184/0001 ISSN 1320-9825 issue3_2010_2.indd 1

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Contents: ie V.40 #3, 2010 editorial profile news reconciliation teaching + learning

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04 This edition Funding for special needs 04 Kaleidoscope Chris Riley Youth Off The Streets 06 Australia wide Six figure salaries 08 Towards reconciliation Real choice for Indigenous students

Feature: Special needs funding — Time for a change

10 Feature Special needs funding—Time for change 13 Marine studies All at sea

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15 I Just Want To Be Me Holly and the head monsters 17 Painting the Indigenous picture 19 Report on racism 21 Brisbane Girls Grammar Mentoring at the Centre 22 Ergonomics Sit up straight in class sustainable classrooms leadership support staff

23 Don’t eat the earth to death How to reduce your foodprint 24 Making part-time work 26 IEWS Teaching beyond the classroom

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28 Information stream

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29 ABC easy as 123

legal conference diary opinion reviews

All at sea with Marine Studies

30 Private and confidential 31 What’s on 32 Talking point: Would students benefit from a stand-alone ethics course? 34 in review Patch Theatre Company

17 Executive Editors BLACK Dick Shearman Deb James Terry Burke Editorial Committee Cathy Hickey Fiona Stutz Sue Osborne Sandra White Journalists Sue Osborne, Fiona Stutz, Jim Marr Design Wendy Rapee

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IE is a tri-annual journal published by the NSW/ACT, Victorian and Queensland Independent Education Unions for members and subscribers. It has a circulation of 63,000. IE’s contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the IEU or the editors nor imply endorsement by them. Email NSW: ieu@ieu.asn.au VIC: vieu@vieu.org.au QLD: enquiries@qieu.asn.au IE online www.ieu.asn.au/publications/ Advertising Tina Delandre (02) 9779 3200 Advertising is carried in IE in order to

Painting the Indigenous picture

minimise costs. Readers are advised that advertising does not in any way reflect the union’s endorsement, or otherwise, of the advertised products or services. Subscriptions IE is available free to members of the IEU, or by subscription. Tina Delandre: (02) 9779 3200 Printing Print & Mail: (02) 9519 8268 ISSN 1320-9825

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editorial

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this edition

this edition

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n this issue we focus on funding for students with disabilities or special needs. With the Federal Government set to undertake a review of school funding, the IEUA believes this issue should be at the forefront of all deliberations. Since the introduction of legislation to support the disabled, the integration of students with disabilities or special needs into the classroom has progressed quickly. However, funding to support those students has not kept pace. Without adequate funding, there can never truly be equity for students. Our article Special needs funding — time for change, attempts to put the issue top of the agenda. It examines problems faced by schools and school staff trying to provide a fair and equitable education for all students, in light of inconsistent and inadequate funding provisions. In other articles, we look at how fishing and snorkeling fit into the curriculum at Belmont Christian College, and how you could save the planet by changing your diet.

Fr Chris Riley CEO, Youth Off The Streets Catholic priest, Father Chris Riley, runs a youth charity that is proudly non-denominational and non-judgmental. He tells IE what drove him to spend his life with the homeless.

If you have an idea for an article or would like to comment on anything you read in IE, please email us at iemagazine@ieu.asn.au

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I was a quiet, withdrawn child and, I guess, my parents were worried that schooling in our hometown, Echuca, wasn’t changing that so, from Year 9 I was sent to a boarding school run by the Salesian Order. I was an introvert and at Rupert Wood I was taught by some wise men who understood me. The Principal, Fr Cornell, was a big influence. He helped me at school and later in life when I joined the Salesian Fathers.

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I don’t see any merit in the law and order agenda our politicians are so fond of.”

When I was young I saw the movie BoysTown. It was the day I decided to become a priest and work with kids at risk. One day at Rupert Wood I was playing Australian Rules when I saw a big blue bus pull in. It had BoysTown written on the side and, naturally, I asked the Brothers what that was about. When they told me they ran BoysTown in Sydney, I decided, then and there, to join the Order. I joined the religious community and graduated with a Diploma in Teaching on my 21st birthday. I went straight to Sydney and started work at BoysTown, which, in some ways, back then, was like a ghetto. You ate, slept, worked and lived there. We were on the edge of the Royal National Park and I spent a lot of time, as a young Brother, bush walking with the boys and coaching every sport that was going. I returned to Melbourne to be ordained and spent another three years teaching before returning to BoysTown as the principal. For the first time in my adult life I had weekends and school holidays to myself and I wasn’t about to start sailing or playing golf so I went into town to try and help kids who were living rough. I would always have blankets and food and I struck up a rapport with a group around Town Hall. They were loyal kids who took care of each other and would help younger ones who had just started living rough.

They helped me, too, I never felt afraid around those kids, and, eventually, I was travelling in every night to make sure they were being fed. One night it was raining and it had been cold for days. I ran into a young man at Town Hall I knew well and he was just crying. He was a tough kid and I had seen him stabbed and beaten but I had never seen him cry. I realised, it was the pain of the cold, going through him like a knife. It was around then, at the end of 1990, that I got permission to leave BoysTown to work full-time with homeless kids. For the first few months, I didn’t have anywhere to live so I stayed in a homeless shelter. It was from there that I started Youth Off The Streets. Our first house was in Marrickville. There was no ‘lights out’ or expectations because we didn’t want rules that would keep away the people who needed us most. Since then, with some government help and incredible public and institutional support, we have grown enormously.

But we are dealing with the same problems we did 20 years ago and they are getting worse. Every day we see violence, drug and alcohol abuse but they are only symptoms of the real problems. There are pockets of poverty in Sydney that are just as bad as Bangladesh or anywhere else. Every time I enter another housing estate or small Aboriginal community, I see hopelessness in the eyes of so many young people. That’s the core problem, young people who have been conditioned to believe they have no hope and nothing to offer. We try to address it through education, and a range of interventions but we start with the basics – shelter, food and, hopefully, the love you might get from a family. We try to act quickly when a problem arises. I have told our staff, don’t wait for governments because by the time they provide funding the people in most need will be dead. I don’t see any merit in the ‘law and order’ agenda our politicians are so fond of. All my experience with kids at risk tells me that locking them up and throwing away the keys is counterproductive. The thousands of kids locked up in youth detention centres are absolute victims and incarceration does nothing for them, or society. It also goes against the first principle that underpins the work of Youth Off The Streets – ‘there is no such thing as a child born bad’. To find out more, make a donation or volunteer go to http://www. youthoffthestreets.com.au/

I was the only teacher when we started our first school in 1994. Today we run four registered and accredited schools, educating about 70-80 students who have been kicked out of mainstream schools. 5

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Australia wide

NSW $ix-figure $alaries A

round 10,000 teachers in more than 200 New South Wales independent schools voted on two different models of Multi Enterprise Agreements in early September.

increases of 14.8% over four years and are identical in terms of conditions, providing entitlements to 25 days sick leave a year and 15.2 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Catholic schools

The Standards model, covering teachers at more than 100 schools, will deliver a salary of $100,721 before super, from March 2014.

The IEU and the NSW Catholic Commission signed a joint statement on 1 September agreeing to a smooth transition from state to the national system of industrial relations.

The Standards model (where progression through salary bands is based on evidence of meeting teaching standards) was introduced in 2007.

All staff will receive a copy of a new Enterprise Agreement early in Term 4 and will be asked to vote on it during the term.

Since then the Union has negotiated improvements to the accreditation process that have reduced teacher workloads.

The Union and diocesan employers have agreed to hold joint meetings in schools to explain the move to the new federal system.

Further improvements have been achieved in the 20112014 MEA, with teachers able to use work they must complete anyway for maintenance of accreditation with the NSW Institute, as evidence for salary progression. The other type of MEA - an incremental step model, will take classroom teachers to an annual salary of $98,923 in 2014. The agreements are the result of industry bargaining that guarantees a fair outcome in all schools. They set new national benchmarks for teacher salaries. The proposed agreements, both negotiated with the Association of Independent Schools, provide salary

Early childhood A campaign seeking salary parity for early childhood teachers with their equivalents in schools was launched at the NSW IEU ECS conference in September. Quality teaching in early childhood services is under severe threat while funding constraints continue and salaries and conditions remain inferior to those that exist in schools. A day of action is planned for early 2011. Stay tuned for further announcements about this campaign (www.ieu.asn.au).

ACT New Institute benefits teachers

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he key objective of the ACT Teacher Quality Institute, which starts next year, is to enhance the status of teachers, build and maintain community confidence in the profession and uphold standards. The IEU has played an important role in developing the Institute. One of the Institute’s main functions will be the registration of teachers. From the beginning of 2011, all teachers working or seeking to work in the ACT must be registered. This brings the ACT into line with all other Australian states and territories.

Teachers currently working in the ACT will be deemed to have met the emerging requirements. These teachers will be expected to meet the full registration requirements by 2013. The Institute will also have a major role in implementing reforms under the Teacher Quality National Partnership, including ensuring national consistency in teacher registration, certifying teachers against the National Professional Standards for Teachers, and accrediting pre-service teacher education programs.

The work undertaken to date has been a successful collaboration between the Department of Education and Training, Catholic Education Office, Association of Independent Schools, The Australian Catholic University, The University of Canberra, Australian Education Union and the IEU. A website for the Institute will be launched later this year and will provide more information about teacher registration and the Institute.

The Teacher Quality Institute is being established so that all ACT teachers will benefit.

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VIC Catholic school leaders learn UK lesson

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he lessons to be learnt from many of the British education reforms were brought home to Catholic school leaders (principals and school leadership team members) at a seminar run recently by Catholic Schools Victoria. One of Britain’s top educationists, Professor Alan Smithers, has been on a speaking tour to Catholic school leaders in a number of states. He is the Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham. His current research includes international comparisons of education performance, assessment policies and trends. One of Professor Smithers’ key messages was the problem of datadriven initiatives as opposed to datainformed approaches in education. Over the last decade in Britain, test and exam scores have been treated essentially as the ‘product’ of education instead of simply one source of information to be considered in educational decisions.

This has led to an overemphasis on teaching test-taking techniques. While the emphasis on improving test scores appears to have improved British educational outcomes as measured by those tests, comparative data from international student evaluations and other broader measurements show Britain is now in fact ranked among the lowest performing countries. Professor Smithers left school leaders with some important considerations: governments need to stick to setting broad frameworks for education and adopt accountability measures that are not intrusive. Value-added measures need a lot of scrutiny in respect to performance judgements, particularly as there is a large amount of error in any measurement of psychological-related factors. Attempts to measure an amount of ‘improvement’ can simply compound the error.

QLD Fighting back against bullying

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he Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence (QSAAV) has developed toolkits for schools and parents. The Schools document deals with: n What is and is not bullying n Information about student roles in bullying behaviour n Effective whole-school approaches to bullying n Information about specific types of bullying n A range of resource materials. Alliance members acknowledge the issue is complex and that the needs of different schools and communities will differ but say the Toolkit should be a useful starting point. The Toolkit for parents and carers aims to guide parents through the processes

of helping their children, whether their child is being bullied or is engaging in bullying behaviour. The Alliance has also developed a cyber safety brochure with tips on where to access information about cyber bullying that schools, teachers, students, parents and carers can access to keep up to date and informed about developments. Of particular concern is the need to address the interaction between criminal and civil law and a legal framework to drive school policy and action and to clarify responsibilities of school staff. The toolkits are available at http:// education.qld.gov.au/studentservices/ behaviour/qsaav/index.html.

NT Remote schools pilot new strategy

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new literacy and numeracy strategy to help boost education outcomes for Northern Territory students has been established. Prioritising Literacy and Numeracy: A strategy to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes 2010-2012 was developed in consultation with the Department of Education and Training’s new Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce. “To support the work teachers are already doing Territory-wide, this new strategy will ensure children leave school with the literacy and numeracy skills they need for life,” Department of Education and Training Chief Executive, Gary Barnes, said. “The literacy and numeracy strategy 2010-2012 requires schools to look at their current practices against some common criteria, and teachers to look at students’ progress against new literacy and numeracy targets in ‘continua’ which detail what stages students should reach in what year.” The continua will cover students from Transition to Year 9 (T to 9). At the end of every school year, not just in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, when national testing occurs, a student’s progress will be measured against it. “Schools and teachers will be supported to assist students who are behind where they need to be, to get them back on track,” Mr Barnes said. “Strategies to do this will take into account the unique character of the Territory’s school-aged population and the remote and very remote nature of one-third of our schools. The Families As First Teachers initiative is designed to complement the new strategy in this way. DET will work with non-government schools to ensure that they can be involved in the strategy. Implementation of the new strategy began in Term 3, 2010, with very remote schools the focus for the first 12 months. 7

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Real choice for Indigenous students “They’ll be challenged on so many levels - physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially and socially.” Waverley Stanley with student Karri Knox

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ndigenous children from regional, rural and remote communities are attending some of Australia’s leading boarding schools, thanks to Yalari. Journalist Fiona STUTZ discusses some initiatives with Yalari founder Waverley Stanley. Waverley’s own positive experience of attending Toowoomba Grammar School more than 25 years ago started him on the Yalari journey. When Waverley was in Year 7 his teacher at Murgon State School, Rosemary Bishop, helped him secure a scholarship to attend the Toowoomba school for his high school education. He established Yalari in 2005, and it now supports 167 children in 34 partnership schools throughout Australia and will celebrate its first graduates this year. Waverley credits Yalari as a real education choice for Indigenous families.

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have never had the choice to allow their children to be educated away from their family and community,” Waverley says. “Many families only have one choice - to send their children to a local state high school.” With family support, students apply for the scholarship by providing a 250word essay on why they want to go to boarding school, school reports and references. Arrangements are then made to interview applicants in their own homes “to make sure Mum and Dad are going to be committed” to the schooling process, Waverley says. A recommendation is made to the head of school or principal. Students then begin at the boarding school in Year 8 in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia (Year 7 elsewhere in the country) and are

sponsored for the duration of their schooling. “We get their reports every term; we discuss term reports and semester reports with the families, guardians and parents and we make a decision then if some children aren’t going as well or their behaviour is not very good. “We then consider whether their scholarship is extended or not.” Concerns the scholarship program is promoting the separation of children from their families and communities are unfounded, Waverley says. “The bigger thing (here) is being exposed to so much more than just an education and four walls of a classroom. “These children are going to learn about life, they’re going to be able to have skills that are going to be transferable after school so they’ll

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be challenged on so many levels - physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially and socially that are going to stand them in good stead for life after school.” Yalari will celebrate 21 students graduating this year. Nellie Bond at Glennie Anglican Girl’s School in Toowoomba will be its first graduate and wants to go on to university. “We’ve got a number of children who want to go into medicine or go into physiotherapy; some want to go into the arts. “On that level a lot of these children (have now) got some choice about what they want to do.” After students graduate, Waverley says he will continue to support them to “open some doors to achieving their own dreams and goals of studying at university”. “We want to ensure that these children become what they want to be. I think that’s what it’s really about - to make sure they enjoy themselves first of all at boarding school and

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then have the courage to follow their own dreams and goals.” Funding for the Yalari program scholarships comes from corporate donations, philanthropic bodies, foundations throughout Australia, individual sponsors and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations under the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program (IYLP). IYLP was established to help close the gap in Indigenous educational disadvantage by creating greater access to education choice for Indigenous students. Yalari is the ‘caretaker’ for 67 children in the program. “This organisation is about generational change; there’s a lot of non-Indigenous people out there working together with us to bring about some positive changes in education for our Indigenous children; that’s the biggest thing for us is a partnership, making sure we can address the educational needs in this country for Indigenous people.”

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Benefit of shared experience One Brisbane boarding school taking part in the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program is Marist College Ashgrove. For five years the school has taken in IYLP boarders; this year is their first experience with Yalari. English As a Second Language and Indigenous Support Teacher Lucy Amolo says the school has 30 Indigenous students this year: 20 are boarders and seven of those are from Yalari. Lucy says the students in the program often experience a “massive culture shock” when they begin at the school.  “It is not unusual for our remotearea Indigenous students to have been in a school of 20 kids for their whole lives; they’ve never had to take home assignments or much homework, so then to come into a school which is sometimes bigger than their entire community back home, it’s a huge adjustment.” Lucy says it is not only Indigenous students who benefit from the opportunity to attend the boarding school. “It exposes non-Indigenous members of our school to a whole different way of living, belief systems and spirituality. “Particularly in subjects like RE, English and SOSE, just having (the Indigenous students) contribute their experiences and beliefs into the normal classroom situation really enriches cross-cultural understanding. “Hearing their everyday - well what to them seems like an everyday story - actually results in a lot of the people listening, thinking ‘Wow!  I never realised that this is how things are in Indigenous communities’.

Britney Skeen and Rae-Hanna Skeen with Waverley Stanley

“I think the teachers and students get great benefits out of sharing such experiences.” 9

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special needs funding Time for change

In the lead-up to the 2011 review of school funding, IEUA Assistant Secretary Christine Cooper examines special needs education and highights the areas of critical need. Inclusion means more than finding a place for a student – it is about providing them with a well-resourced learning environment and appropriate teaching. To achieve this, the IEUA argues Australia needs a consistent approach to their funding needs.

Inconsistency results in disparity There are various approaches to funding for students with disabilities and special needs. The Federal Government is the major source of funding in non-government schools, yet each state and territory has a different system. The major criticism from stakeholders concerns the apparent lack of transparency of funding provisions. Most states provide some support services in non-government schools, but the scope varies and funding is often insufficient to cover the additional costs of supporting these students. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, some form of disability affects about one in five Australians. Yet, funded students with a disability are only a subset of all those students with special needs.

Moreover, students with severe multiple disabilities are funded for only one disability. These various definitions for funding of students with disabilities and special needs have resulted in significant under-resourcing. The Monash University Report, Investigating the Feasibility of Portable Funding for Students with Disabilities (2007), investigated Commonwealth funding for students with disabilities in the context of complementary funding from state and territory governments. The key findings of this research were: n Insufficient funds were available to meet the needs of all students with disabilities, but especially those with higher level disabilities n The lack of adequate funding was becoming more critical as the number of students identified as having a disability grew. The most significant finding was the identified disparity existing between non-government and government schools. It found that:

DEEWR data is only collected for school students who are recognised as ‘students with disabilities’ – as defined by the relevant state criteria.

n Students with disabilities attending non-government regular schools receive substantially less government funding than students with similar needs attending government regular schools

There are many students who fall outside the criteria, but have significant learning and behavioural difficulties. These students may represent 12% of student enrolments.

n Students attending nongovernment special schools also receive substantially less government funding than students with similar needs attending government regular schools.

The disparity across the education sector results in non-government schools facing difficulties meeting the needs of students, particularly small schools with limited capacity to amortise costs. The report states “the substantial concerns among all stakeholders about the inadequacy of funding levels cannot be addressed through reform of funding models alone. “An increase in the funds available requires a commitment on the part of those already providing this funding and/or addition of funds from new sources. “An alternative funding model on its own can only influence the way in which the existing resources might be distributed and used”. These are significant points for consideration in any review of school funding.

Achieving consistency The IEUA believes that the key factor in ensuring equitable access is a nationally agreed set of definitions for funding purposes, responsive to emerging needs flexible in relation to school and student circumstances. The Australian Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs Senior Officials Committee (AEEYSOC) has started work on a set of national definitions. The Federal Government must ensure that meeting the needs of students with disabilities and special needs remains a priority in the overall review of school funding.

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It is imperative that the work on a new measure for the assessment of the average costs of educating students with disabilities continues. The IEUA asserts that funding arrangements must support the school’s capacity to address the needs of students. It is crucial that teachers and teachers aides are adequately supported in their work through the provision of key enabling factors such as: n Adequate levels of resourcing and support n Adequate levels of staffing and workforce development to meet the full needs of all students, including the development of a broad range of occupational specialist groups working in schools and support services n Flexible classroom environments appropriate for individualised learning and school structures that enable professionals to work in teams n Fair and reasonable workload agreements, including adequate time release from face-to-face teaching, appropriate class sizes, access to and time for professional learning activities and reduced administration duties n Comprehensive strategies to tackle inequality, particularly for Indigenous, disadvantaged and special needs students n Adequate interagency support. Funding arrangements should: n Promote increased efficiency in

the use of all resources to enable the widest benefits to be achieved n Provide parity of funding across education sectors and across states and territories n Promote an ethos of inclusivity, to minimise the stigmatisation and segregation of students with disabilities and special needs and to promote their access to mainstream curricula where this is in the best interest of the child

“More funding and recognition should be provided for different types of learning issues, like dyslexia.” Emily Lurje, Across Curriculum Learning Coordinator, St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, Brisbane

n Promote a sense of empowerment among parents of students with disabilities and special needs in decision making about the education of their child n Promote the building of capacity within education sectors to meet the needs of all students with disabilities and special needs effectively n Have a strong focus on student outcomes. The current state of inequality of funding arrangements for students with special needs across the nation cannot be allowed to continue. New funding arrangements must ensure students will receive the same level of support if they move to a different school, sector or state. If Australia is to fully meet its obligations in providing access and participation in education to students with disabilities and special needs, then Federal Government funding must comprehensively address the identified needs of schools and students.

References ABS 2003, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers Australian Government, Disability Standards for Education 2005 Regulatory Impact Statement. Monash University of Education, Final Report June 2007, Investigating the Feasibility of Portable Funding for Students with Disabilities. NSW Catholic Education Commission 2010 Submission to Inquiry into the Provision of Education to Students with a Disability or Special Needs. NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No 2 July 2010, Report 34, The Provision of Education to Students with a Disability or Special Needs.

Students from the Kirinari and Gamarada classes at Xavier College, Llandilo, Sydney

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“It’s a challenge ensuring special needs students can participate as much as possible with their cohort, yet still have their individual learning needs met.” Natasha Williams, Special Learning Needs Coordinator St Paul’s Catholic School, Tasmania

Teacher aides the essential element Teacher aides who support students with a disability are crucial to providing quality education to these students. IEUA members have identified that both classroom teachers and specialist teachers rely on teacher aides (also known as learning support assistants, integration aides or special needs assistants) for their support with students with disabilities. However they are too often underfunded and overlooked by school/ system approaches. Teacher aides involved in supporting students with disabilities and special needs are often inadequately classified and provided with generic teacher aide position descriptions which fail to recognise the specific skills and responsibilities of their roles. Significant numbers of teacher aides experience instability of employment due to fixed funding arrangements. Teacher aides involved in supporting students with disabilities and special needs are often denied access to significant professional development or recognised for their valuable experience. The IEUA has campaigned for teacher aides’ feedback and contributions to be valued and their professional development needs to be considered along with those of teaching staff. It is vital that teachers and teacher aides are allowed to work as a team in order that quality education for students with disabilities and special needs is delivered. Fundamental to this is a funding mechanism which ensures consistent and sufficient teacher aide time so that they can function without an undue drain on a school’s other activities. The IEUA strongly believes that the important role that teacher aides play in supporting teachers in the development and support of students with disabilities and special needs must be recognised in any government funding model.

Resources Ideally each student should have access to an integration aide with appropriate expertise in the area of disability. Time for teachers and teacher aides to work together on curriculum planning and modification, liaise with external agencies and parents. Smaller class sizes to ensure that individual attention can be provided to all students. Additional staffing of special staff Professional development provision based on the needs of school/ system, student and professional needs determined by individual staff.

Ensuring capacity To ensure that schools have the capacity to meet the educational needs of all students, the consideration of a framework of teaching and learning resource standards for quality education for students with disabilities and special needs should occur. Funding arrangements must take into account: n The appropriate levels of specialist teaching and support staff n Class sizes which allow optimum teaching and learning for inclusion classes n Time release for curriculum and program modification and planning and liaising with parents and external agencies and n Access to appropriate and relevant profession development for teachers and support staff.

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All at sea F

ishing, diving and boating are all part of a day’s work for Belmont Christian College biology teacher Alex Cameron. And we haven’t even mentioned whale watching or working holidays on Pacific islands.

“Recognising our advantages as Westerners, we try to give something back to the communities we visit.

Alex runs the school’s innovative Marine Studies elective that equips Year 9-12 students with boating, snorkeling and scuba diving qualifications, as well as a scientific understanding of the ocean and its inhabitants.

His party of 40 had its life skills tested last year, when a tsunami alert sent them scurrying for the Vanuatu hills.

Students do much of their practical work in the Swansea Channel, Lake Macquarie and around Port Stephens. In class they study marine biology, the science of fishing and theoretical aspects of their boating and diving licenses. They get an early taste of the sea when Alex serves up flathead fillets, green prawns and chips. Then, they are required to return the favour. Every year, in the September holidays, his Year 10 class does field work in the Pacific. “It is partly recreational and partly mission-focused,” Alex says.

“The students come back changed and that is why we do it. What they experience has an impact that lasts.”

“Something always seems to happen to remind us we are mortal,” Alex says. Health and safety is a feature of Marine Studies. Alex works closely with DET regulations and participants have to pass annual self-rescue tests – swimming, floating and sculling. Ten years ago, Alex never imagined the direction his life would take. Working nine to five in the NSW public service, he says, he looked to the classroom for “all the wrong reasons”. “I had a young family and a science degree and I needed a job,” he said. “Since then I have discovered that teachers do a lot of hard work but that it can be very rewarding. You can impact positively on the lives of others.

“Working in a Christian school is important to me. In the past, I was frustrated that I couldn’t talk about my beliefs and motivation. Here, it is part of the job.” Since Marine Studies started at Belmont, several students have gone into marine careers, including a girl accepted as a Navy diver, last year. Alex says the elective has the passionate support of his principal and his teaching has benefitted from the “proactive advice” of the Marine Teachers Federation. Now, the boating and diving have become more than a job. He is well on his way to instructor’s licenses and spends any spare time he gets, with a wife and five children, on the water. His job has become a lifestyle. “I was a country boy so I didn’t know much about the sea. I was a bit scared, to tell you the truth, about what lurked beneath.” Inset photo: Alex Cameron with Emily Hagendyk, and her stuffed snapper.

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V.39 #3, 2009

Vol 15 #1, March 2010

Valuing Diversity: Why funding counts

Newsmonth

is the NSW/ACT IEU newspaper, distributed in NSW and the ACT and published eight times a year. NEWSPAPER OF THE NSW/ACT INDEPENDENT EDUCATION UNION [ VOL 29 #7 ] November

Print Post: 225007/0002 – ISSN: 0728-4845

Unions call for humane treatment of asylum seekers

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eaders of Australian unions, including the IEU, at an ACTU meeting in Canberra have unanimously endorsed a motion calling for the Australian Government to ensure the rights of asylum seekers are upheld and that they are treated with respect and dignity.

n Maximising multi-media marking n Regional and remote area teaching

The motion states: Australia has a proud history as a tolerant, compassionate and multicultural nation, and people from all over the world have contributed to our development. In recent months, there has been an increase in the numbers of people fleeing turmoil in the world, including from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.

Cont'd on page 2

New standards institute to be developed A

new Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is to be established, writes Sandra WHITE, IEU Organiser and Rep on the NSW Institute Quality Teaching Council.

new approach to programming

opportunity for innovation Life skills for kids Making things grow The buzz

The decision was made by Ministers at the recent Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) meeting in Brisbane. There is still much that is unknown about exactly how national standards and a national Institute will co-exist with state institute processes and standards. Also unknown is the location and governance of the new Institute, and representation has yet to be sorted. The communiqué from the MCEECDYA meeting stated: “AITSL will take

responsibility for rigorous national standards and for fostering and driving high quality professional development for teachers and school leaders, working collaboratively across jurisdictions and engaging with key professional bodies." The roles of the Institute will be: n developing and overseeing a set of national standards for teaching and school leadership and implementing an agreed system of national accreditation of teachers based on these standards, and n promoting excellence and national leadership in the professional development of teachers and school leaders. n National Institute of Teachers questions are answered on page 5 n Recognition for accomplished teaching page 2

Robin Hurst: Early Childhood trailblazer

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“For 40,000 years we were the greatest conservationists in this country. We looked after everything in our country,” said Michael, who is known as Dhinawan. Dhinawan was one of a number of presenters representing science, education, government and practitioner viewpoints at the Conference. “Always an Aboriginal reference would be to Mother Earth," he said. It’s Mother Nature and we all still do that today. We don’t say that we own the land. We say we belong to the land. You don’t own your Mother. You belong to your Mother," Dhinawan said.

“We don’t say that we own the land. We say we belong to the land. You don’t own your Mother. You belong to your Mother … we care for her.” Cont'd on page 12 plus more from the conference

Move to federal system A

ll early childhood services, non-government schools and colleges are expected to move to the federal system before the beginning of next year, with the IEU seeking support for a campaign to ensure current wages and conditions are protected in the process.

Modern federal awards, which are set to replace state awards, contain only minimum pay and conditions, far below existing NSW standards.

State awards will cease from 2011 for employees currently in the state system but outside the public sector. For employees already in the federal system, NAPSAs (frozen state awards) will cease from the end of this year.

The Union will ensure affected employees receive the same protection already provided to other members in the move to a federal system.

Diverse Muslim schools. Common ground where it counts

An IEU campaign will seek to ensure all current pay, provisions and entitlements are incorporated into Union negotiated agreements.

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ISSN 1326-7566 PRINT POST No. PP255 003/02 117

We must not return to that shameful period in Australia’s history where children were locked up in detention centres and Australia avoided its international obligations through processing refugees off shore.

Educating for Sustainability Conference ducators can advance both environmental stewardship and reconciliation by asking Indigenous people in their communities to address their schools and services on Aboriginal people’s relationship with nature. This was the message from Indigenous artist and cultural ambassador Michael Baker, delivered at the IEU’s Educating for a Sustainable Future Conference in Sydney on 23 October.

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Print Post No. 243184/0001 ISSN 1320-9825

The Independent Education Union early childhood education magazine

Unions call for international action to achieve peace, equitable development and decent work for all to address the push factors which are affecting this situation and we reaffirm our strong belief that asylum seekers should be treated with respect and dignity.

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This has led to a small increase in those people coming by boat to

seek asylum in Australia. It should be recognised that these numbers are small in comparison to those people fleeing to other nations and in comparison to those who come to Australia by plane and overstay or breach their visa requirements.

Dhinawan: ‘look after your Mother’

More page 3

All the colour and movement of IEU Race Day

Maintenance and outdoor staff to meet in western Sydney

We are Queensland’s number one Industry superfund of choice for the Independent Education and Care sector. We exist purely for the benefit of our members. So if you haven’t already, join today and start enjoying the benefits of being first in our class!

1300 360 507 www.qiec.com.au This information is of a general nature and does not take account of your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should obtain a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and consider the PDS before making any decision. If you require specific advice, you should contact a licensed financial adviser. QIEC Super Pty Ltd (ABN 81 010 897 480), the Trustee of QIEC Super (ABN 15 549 636 673), is Corporate Authorised Representative No. 268804 under Australian Financial Services Licence No. 238507 and is authorised to provide general financial product advice in relation to superannuation.

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Holly and the head monsters

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chool counsellors Timothy and Sandy BOWDEN explain the motivation behind their book I Just Want to Be Me. Holly is a teenager with a secret. She just doesn’t feel she is good enough. Every morning unpleasant thoughts and feelings weigh her down. And worse, she thinks she is the only one who feels this way. Why does everyone else seem happy? And why, when she tries to talk about it, is she shut down by comments like “I don’t want to hear you talk that way”? How can she succeed when the “monsters” in her mind threaten to devour her? The very things she needs to do — take risks, persevere, communicate — ­ feel beyond her capacity.

Holly is the main character in our book I Just Want To Be…Me! (Exisle Publishing 2010) and she is about to learn a different way to deal with her thoughts. While Holly may not be real, all teachers would recognise her. A 2007 survey of young Australians found 46% of respondents did not feel confident or secure in themselves; 54% worried about not fitting in, and 40% felt they were not performing well enough (Tucci, Goddard & Mitchell 2008). In your average-size classroom, that amounts to 10 to 15 students struggling with these kinds of thoughts. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that in 2007, 26% of 16-24 year olds had experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months. For junior high school and primary school aged children the

same report found around 14% experiencing high levels of depression, anxiety or oppositional behaviours. Only one out of every four young people with mental health problems had received professional health care. Even among those with the most severe health problems, only 50% received professional help. Parents reported that help was too expensive or they didn’t know where to get it, and that they thought they could manage on their own. For those who had sought help, this tended to be family doctors and paediatricians for younger children, and school counsellors for adolescents. Similar results are reported on the Youth Beyond Blue website (www. beyondblue.org.au) With these internal battles raging, what is the cost to young people’s education, social development and their resilience? 15

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Holly certainly isn’t alone. In fact, all of us struggle at times with our internal monsters. It is a normal part of life. But we can learn to have a different relationship with these monsters, so they don’t influence how we live our lives.

How do we do that? The answer comes from a relatively new form of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT for short. Developed in America by Professor Steve Hayes, ACT teaches us to live more mindful lives consistent with our personal values. So how does this help young people like Holly? In the first instance, recognising that she is not alone can be very helpful – everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, is confronted daily by unpleasant and unhelpful thoughts. Rather than submitting to this kind of thinking ACT encourages us to see thoughts for what they are. We don’t have to treat them as though they are the truth, or wise, or orders we should follow. Instead, we can ask ourselves, “is this thought helpful to me, if I pay attention, does it take me in the direction I want to go in life?”

The key skill here, which Holly learns, is how to create a little space between the thought and the self, so that instead of acting on urges we can choose how we want to act, in line with what is important to us. While ACT has been around since the 1980s, it is still not widely known. This has begun changing with an increasing number of publications that bring these approaches to a broader audience, such as Dr Russ Harris’ The Happiness Trap. We chose to present the strategies in a graphic novel or comic style, to be more engaging and to cut down on the amount of text required. The illustrations allow us to flesh out the techniques. We wanted a resource a young person could pick up and read that also had support material available for teachers and parents to use. There is no quick fix. A life lived in line with values involves ongoing work. The good news is, as soon as we realise one of our monsters has led us astray, we can choose to get back on our path.

“We can learn to have a different relationship with these monsters, so they don’t influence how we live our lives.”

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TIPS How to help students act on life, not on fear n Avoiding unpleasant feelings is a natural response. How many of us would joyfully accept an offer to do some public speaking, for example? Trying to avoid feeling “bad”, however, can stop us trying new things or extending ourselves. Help students expand their lives by acknowledging normal feelings of anxiety but going ahead anyway. n Too often we treat our thoughts like they are automatically true, or wise. Encourage students to see them as they are – just thoughts – then ask a more useful question: “Is this thought helpful?” If so, give it attention; if not, notice it but let it go. n If we are stuck in our thoughts, we miss out on really being present in the here and now. To ‘get present’, start from the ‘outside in’- notice what can be seen, heard, touchedthen what is thought or felt. No judgement- just as it is. n Help students work out the values they want to live by day by day, on the way to achieving their goals. This way, life can be more meaningful now, rather than waiting to achieve X to be happy. n Taking a small step in a positive direction, chosen by us, can have a major effect on our lives. Help students choose one small step they can take in the next day, week or month. Go into detail and, if they fail to act, rather than giving up, help them try again with changes to their goals if needed.

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Painting the Indigenous picture Artwork by Lisa Buxton

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hat do the Vatican, the IEU and the homes of an increasing number of Sydney educators hold in common? The vibrant artwork of Lisa Buxton, for one thing. Lisa’s latest artistic venture Walking on Country was crafted for an IEU Indigenous conference. It shimmers with the feel of the land and its history. The Murwillumbah born and raised artist was chosen to design and paint two panels, woven together as a container for the message stick the Pope took back to Rome, after Sydney’s World Youth Day celebrations. Her work – motifs, designs, panels and full-on paintings – adorns Sydney education offices and the publications of various organisations, including trade unions and Aboriginal groups. Yet, at first, she shrugs off this part of her life as “just a hobby”. The former Brisbane secondary teacher with a Masters in Indigenous Social Policy is much keener to talk about her driving passion, Aboriginal education.

“I loved the teaching but Aboriginal education was what I wanted to concentrate on because there was so much to do,” Lisa says. “I felt strongly it had to be about more than didgeridoos and dot paintings.” Lisa started off with Brisbane friend, Leesa Watego, on the Visiting Aboriginal Speakers Program. Then she did three and a half years, with the Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Broken Bay, the first 18 months at Mercy College. For the past decade she has been based at the CEO’s Sydney headquarters as its Eastern Region Aboriginal Education Advisor. She has been part of the movement from ‘education about Aboriginals’ to putting outcomes for Indigenous Australians at the top of the agenda. “A lot of it now is about results for our kids but it will always be twofold and it has to be,” she says. Lisa talks a lot about “cultural safety” which she defines as making Aboriginal students confident about their identity

“Personally, I think what’s good teaching practice for Aboriginal kids is good teaching practice for all kids.” and incorporating Indigenous ways of learning into the curriculum. “Teachers don’t intend to undermine our kids but often they do,” she says. Teachers are getting better, she says, at not putting Indigenous children on the spot about who they are and how they fit in; at understanding that, in their communities, direct eye contact can be seen as disrespectful and that direct questioning is frowned on until an individual has earned the right to communicate in that manner. “Personally, I think what’s good teaching practice for Aboriginal kids is good teaching practice for all kids, essentially it’s about building 17

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relationships,” she says. “When a teacher builds a good relationship with a child, the sort of information they might once have made them defensive about, will flow out naturally. “It’s also important for teachers to develop real relationships with Aboriginal Education Workers in their schools because they can, and will, decode a lot of valuable information if you open the doors.” They are among points she makes at in-service and professional development sessions, and to beginning teachers in her lectures at ACU and Notre Dame University. “Sometimes I can be challenging,” she admits, “but, more often, I am softly, softly. After all, most of these people are there for all the right reasons. “The first thing I aim to do is get them beyond thinking about the stereotypical Aboriginal person.” Lisa would probably write a mixed report if she was asked to assess progress in the field. She says, to be more effective, teachers need to understand Aboriginal culture, and pedagogy, on emotional as well as intellectual levels.

“Teachers don’t intend to undermine our kids but often they do.”

It was an ambition that drove a groundbreaking program, Guyunggu, she developed for the Diocese of Broken Bay with cultural educator, Oomera Edwards. Broken Bay sent every teacher who would be involved in the course, for kindergarten to Year 6 students, away for a week with Oomera and Lisa who literally took them into country – the beaches, rivers and forests of the region. When the children arrived, their teacher’s handprint was already up on the wall.

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on the theme. 8Ways, currently being worked on by academics and teachers, is one of them. She is similarly enthusiastic about the Coolabah dynamic assessment work being done by Dr Graham Chaffey, based on identifying learning potential. The testing and re-testing has identified great improvements in the results of several talented Aboriginal students. Lisa, who sits on the IEU’s Indigenous Committee and represents her Union at the Board of Studies, says some schools do better at Aboriginal education than others. “A lot of our kids are doing real well, especially in pockets of attainment,” she says. “You might not hear much about them but the upside is there are some great things happening out there.” She highlights strides made by Our Lady of Mt Carmel at Waterloo and St Andrews, Malabar, two Sydney schools with large Indigenous populations. She regularly helps out at art workshops at both those schools. Art, she says, helps children “explore themselves”. And it’s not just kids. Time and again, her employer has asked her to do paintings as ‘thank yous’ or going away gifts for work mates. Typically, she develops the design then gets the whole office to collaborate on the piece. “It’s a great team-building exercise,” she says, “people start talking about their own lives and experiences. Through the process, they connect with people in their own office on a whole new level.” It dovetails with her philosophy on improving Aboriginal education through teachers who ‘live’ and ‘feel’ their subject as much as they ‘know’ it.

Twelve years later, the Diocese still runs Guyunggu – nine experiences to develop students’ connection to country - in its schools. Lisa is excited by some modern takes

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Racism at school “The most disturbing finding was that, overwhelmingly, young Australians identified school as the setting for racist experiences.”

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IEU Education Officer Cathy Hickey looks at findings and recommendations from research project The Impact of Racism a research project on the Health and Wellbeing of Young Australians. Against the context of continued hype about national security and ‘boat people’, racial and ethic stereotyping, it is timely to reflect on the significant roles schools have in not only fostering the potential of their students, but also in helping make Australia a more tolerant and inclusive society in which to live. The Foundation for Young Australians research project was undertaken last year in 18 government and Catholic secondary schools across four states by Deakin University researchers Professor Fethi Mansouri, Dr Louise Jenkins, Dr Les Morgan and Ms Mona Taouke.

Its purpose was threefold — to examine the experiences of racism (including the impact on health and wellbeing) among young people in Australia of mainstream (Englishspeaking), Indigenous, migrant and refugee backgrounds; to investigate how young people report and respond to racism; and to explore the attitudes of mainstream youth about race relations. The students were aged between 15 and 18 years, mostly in Years 9 and 10. They came from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and almost 70% were born in Australia.

What did they find? Researchers examined participants’ experiences of 11 different types of racist behaviour: n Being called an offensive slang name

n Being the target of racist jokes, songs or teasing n Hearing or reading comments stereotyping their cultural group n Seeing pictures portraying their cultural group in a poor light n Being verbally abused n Feeling excluded or left out because of their cultural background n Feeling people avoid them because of their cultural background n Being treated as less intelligent or inferior because of their cultural background n Being refused entry because of their cultural background n Being refused employment because of their cultural background n Being treated with suspicion because of their cultural background. 19

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“Over 80% Experience of racism The findings show an overwhelming majority of young people experience racism. More than 70% of participants report experiencing racist incidents. The most disturbing finding was that, overwhelmingly, young Australians identified school as the setting for racist experiences. Two thirds of students nominated the classroom, school grounds, or sporting oval as the site of their racist experience.

In addition, there was a damaging impact on young people’s educational engagement and attainment, from non-completion of school and homework on the day of the incident, through to feelings of fear of attending school and non-attendance.

Over 80% of participants from nonAnglo-Australian backgrounds reported being subjected to some form of racism.

Demographic trends Correlations and cross-tabulation showed a relationship between experiences of racism, health and various demographic variables. Students in Years 11 and 12 were more likely to experience racism and had lower health scores.

Despite this, interviewees pointed to a culture of fear and distrust between racial groups more broadly and 55% of Anglo-Australian participants also claimed to have experienced some form of racism.

Gender had a significant negative correlation with health, indicating that female students were more likely than their male counterparts to have decreased health or wellbeing.

Reporting racism

The strongest predictor of experiencing racism, when all other variables were equal, was coming from a migrant background.

When racism was experienced, most students reported to their teachers, 52%, school counsellors 37%, police 12%, and 4.2% to a health professional. These incidents were found to have direct impacts on young people’s health and wellbeing. At the lowest level, impacts reported were tension and anxiety as well as passing feelings of anger or sadness. More adverse effects included headaches and more lasting feelings of anger or sadness.

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of participants from non-Anglo-Australian backgrounds reported being subjected to some form of racism.”

Most serious effects included ongoing feelings of sadness, anger and resentment, a constant sense of exclusion, a pervasive fear of being attacked, a loss of trust in the world, and post-traumatic stress.

Anglo-Australian youth displayed consistent prejudice toward other groups, and particularly toward darkerskinned students from a variety of backgrounds.

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Predictors of racism

However, it is important to note, the report acknowledged the very small sample of Indigenous interviewees should be taken into consideration in these findings. Another significant variable was the type of school attended. Students who attended Catholic schools were 1.7 times less likely to have reported racist experiences than those attending government schools.

What can schools and systems do? The report identifies and makes recommendations in a number of areas, which will strengthen the capacity of schools and education systems to meet challenges it highlights. These included: n Professional development for staff — the report outlines suggested areas of professional development. n Further research about migrant females in Years 11 and 12 — the report recommends more research is required to understand the complex gender aspect of racism and wellbeing n Further investigation and implementation of measures to combat structural and institutionalised racism - including engaging individuals and communities, and whole-oforganisation approaches. n Intervention strategies to address racism at the level of junior community sport n Further research by multi disciplinary professionals – including social scientists and medical professionals.

References Foundation for Young Australians 2009 The Impact of Racism Upon the Health and Wellbeing of Young Australians, www.fya.org.au Walsh, Lucas & Black, Rosalyn 2010 Racism in Australian Schools, CSE Occasional Paper No 116 July 2010.

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Mentoring @ the Centre quality mentoring is provided. Dr Kimber says the Centre has two purposes - improving the practicum experience for pre-service teachers while encouraging staff to accept mentoring as valued professional development. “The Centre seeks to develop quality practicum experiences for pre-service teachers by promoting empathetic mentorship and offering weekly support seminars featuring professional focus topics led by staff experts.”

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s concerns grow about young teachers leaving the profession, one Brisbane school has developed a program that aims to nurture the professional growth of its teachers and pre-service teachers. Journalist Fiona Stutz investigates the benefits of its Centre for Professional Practice. Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s Centre for Professional Practice promotes mentoring as a valued professional activity for staff with the goal of supporting the growth of future teachers. From orientation with the Director of the Centre to lunchtime seminars with the school psychologist, all activities are geared towards raising pre-service teachers’ focus on their interaction with students and the type of teacher they can become. Many pre-service teachers find it difficult to pace lessons to

accommodate diverse learning needs or to ensure the effective introduction of difficult concepts, Centre Director Dr Kay Kimber says. “The bottom line here is the need to remember that they are learning to become teachers of young people, not merely teachers of their subject discipline,” Dr Kimber says. “Lunchtime sessions on lesson preparation and diversity, and careful mentoring from supervising teachers all help equip our pre-service teachers for their safe transitions across these areas.” The Centre, launched in 2005, co-ordinates practicum sessions for all pre-service teachers and their supervising teachers, and supports them through one-on-one consultations, group seminars or liaison with their universities. Every effort is made to ensure that high

Today, the Centre involves half the academic staff at the school and about 25 pre-service teachers. In the past few years the school has employed early career teachers straight from their practicum; one has risen from preservice teacher in 2005 to become a Faculty Director. The Centre’s work is being recognised. This year it was one of four Brisbane schools awarded a Commonwealth Government – Independent Schools of Queensland two-year grant as a Centre of Excellence in Pre-Service Teacher Education. Plans are underway to extend research into mentoring conversations through resource provision and the initiation of a Quality Mentoring Conversations network with other independent schools. This will enable BGGS pre-service teachers to continue to be nurtured by experienced teachers so that they can become better teachers in the future.

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Sit up straight in class

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ith the explosion of technology in the classroom, and an increasing trend toward screen-based homework such as Mathletics, teachers and parents have a duty to make sure children are not injured by computer use, writes Journalist Sue OSBORNE. Remedial massage therapist and gymnastics coach Priscilla Rinetzky is the creator of Time for Ergonomics, a program aimed at primary school teachers and students. Ergonomics is the study of human movement, with safety as the paramount concern. Priscilla got the idea for her program while working as a massage therapist with corporate clients.

OHS risk “Some of these people were working up to 12 hours a day in front of the computer and they all reported similar musculoskeletal injuries. Computers and our bodies are not meant to be,” says Priscilla. “There are OHS requirements in place for workers, but it occurred to me that there was nothing protecting children. “Kids are spending more and more time in front of the screen, and can suffer the same injuries. “It’s crucial we instil good habits at a young age, as these are our future workers, and chances are they will spend most of their lives in front of a screen.”

“It’s crucial we instil good habits at a young age”

The program lists links to the NSW Board of Studies syllabus through KLAs of English, Science and Technology and PDHE, eg “UTS1.9 selects and uses a range of equipment, computerbased technology, materials and other resources to undertake an investigation or design task”. Priscilla is available to visit schools to do professional development in the Sydney region.

Studies by Boston University researchers found half of 152 6th grade students reported musculoskeletal discomfort made worse by computer use. Using incorrect furniture exacerbated the problem, while ergonomics education was an effective tool for improving computer use.

Kids on film Having also worked as an assistant editor on feature film production, Priscilla decided to produce a DVD using children to demonstrate correct posture whilst using the computer and a series of age-appropriate ‘pause and stretch’ exercises. She employed two primary teachers, Dianna Kellerman and Stephanie Johnson, to create a CD-ROM containing syllabus linked worksheets, teachers’ notes and activities aimed at Stages 1, 2 and 3. The package includes posters for the classroom, also targeted at stages, showing various exercises.

“When I visit computer labs I do an assessment on how they can create ergonomic workstations for K-6 students using height adjustable chairs, with cost effective solutions such as footstools and pillows for smaller children. “It’s also really good for the teachers to learn about their own posture and computer use.” Details: www.ergoproductions.com.au

References Jacobs, Karen and Williams Chad 2002, The Effectiveness of a Homebased Ergonomics Intervention on the Proper Use of Computers by Middle School Children, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University. Baker, Nancy and Jacobs, Karen 2002 The Association between Children’s Computer Use and Musculoskeletal Discomfort, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University.

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Don’t eat the earth to death – how to reduce your foodprint

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angaroos don’t fart. Well, they do, but they don’t produce methane like cows and sheep do. This is important because methane is a gas with greenhouse warming capacities 25 times stronger than CO2. Eating kangaroo instead of cows and sheep can reduce our eco-foodprints. The food footprint is the ecological indent made by what we eat and drink. Food choices, including ‘food miles’ (the distance food travels between production and consumption – oranges from California, asparagus from Peru) are a part of our ecological footprint, which, in Australia, is 7.7ha per person – more than three times the global average.

Eat local

“Animals raised for food in Australia will produce as much or more global warming over the next 20 years than all our coal-fired power stations put together.”

Some food choices have greater footprints than others. Grazing animals have large water and greenhouse impacts. It takes about 50,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef, compared with only 2500 litres to produce one kilogram of white rice – and much less for fruit and vegetables. Animals raised for food in Australia will produce as much or more global warming over the next 20 years than all our coal-fired power stations put together. A key step in preserving the integrity of eco-systems is to eat only delicious, fresh, local, organic food every day, every week, every month and every year. With the population rising and the threat of climate change, vegetarian food is becoming an option.

Go meatless We could be deriving more of our food and medicines from trees, reducing our impact on the land and increasing carbon sequestration in the soil and in the trees.

A focus on food in schools opens a pantry of ideas for teaching and learning – about nourishment, fuel and fibre, drought resistance, indigenous and exotic varieties. Examine land practices such as the use of pesticides and their impact on soils, the role of insects, the structure and function of eco-systems; and investigate dietary considerations of seasonal produce, taste and freshness. There are as many things to learn as there are to eat. Schools can plant gardens, raise chooks, grow fruit trees. Kids can discover in-season foods, do a foodmile study of lunches, visit local suppliers, hold an Eat Local day each week, eat lower down the food chain, go meatless for two meals a week, reduce food waste and eat leftovers. On average, Australian households throw away about $600 worth of food each year, so show students how to plan shopping to buy only what they need. Big problems are consequences of small actions. Global warming is an example of that. Conversely, big solutions are rooted in small actions. Wise food choices will enable us to avoid devouring the planet one bite at a time. We may never be Master Chefs, but we can be Miser Chefs when it comes to impacts on the planet. Eat, but don’t eat the earth to death. Check out the Australian School Garden Network at http:// australianschoolgardensnetwork.ning. com/ and Kids Gardening at: http:// www.kidsgardening.com/teachers.asp Phil Smith, Australian Association for Environmental Education Anna McKenzie, Australian Association for Environmental Education.

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Making part-time work V

IEU Officer Tania Clarke looks at legal requirements around flexible work arrangements and explains the Union’s focus on parttime opportunities for staff and management. In Australia, pressures from an increasingly competitive work environment and lack of support for family responsibilities are leading to conflict and stress for workers trying to balance their lives.

“A problem exists, because the ‘ideal’ worker is still seen as the unencumbered full-timer.”

It is often assumed that members of the extended family will take on caring for children and the elderly. However, with societal change to the nuclear family, this is not necessarily the case. Based on statistical evidence, it continues to be women who shoulder the bulk of family responsibilities and they are the main ones requesting flexible working arrangements to care for families (Australian Human Rights Commission 2010). A problem exists, because the ‘ideal’ worker is still seen as the unencumbered full-timer. Because women are more likely to be ‘encumbered’ by children and the elderly, the disadvantages in the labour market and the organisation of work tend to affect them more than men. To add further complexity, families are increasingly relying on the incomes of women to meet their economic needs. In addition, increasing divorce rates have increased the number of single parents who are the main breadwinners for families.

The legal framework In 2009, in response to the push from the ACTU, the Labor Government introduced the right to request flexible working arrangements as one of the 24

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National Employment Standards (NES) in the Fair Work Act 2009. This gives parents or carers of a child under school age, or a child under 18 with a disability, the right to request a change in working arrangements to assist with caring for the child. Employees have to apply to their employers in writing, setting out details of the change sought and the reasons for the change. Employers must provide a written response within 21 days, stating whether the request is granted or refused. An employer may refuse the request only on ‘reasonable business grounds’. If the employer refuses the request, the written response must include details of the reasons for the refusal. The right to request applies to all employees in schools and supplements existing protections under various equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation at federal and state levels. Under the Equal Opportunity Act in Victoria, for example, employees who claim their employers have not reasonably accommodated their family responsibilities, resulting in disadvantage to them, can lodge a discrimination complaint with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Policy and law reform on the agenda There are other reforms being proposed in this area. The Australian Human Rights Commission recently launched its 2010 Blueprint on Gender Equality that details comprehensive proposals to address gender equality at all levels of society. It includes a recommendation for a duty on employers to reasonably

accommodate families through flexible arrangements. This would eliminate the need for workers to lodge individual complaints. If adopted, the reform would enable the Commission to tackle systemic discrimination. The Federal Labor Government is responding to calls for further reform. Prior to the federal election campaign the Attorney General Robert McClelland introduced amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act aimed at strengthening the law for families and extending its coverage to men.

Quality part-time work A lot has been written about quality part-time work but what does it mean in our schools? Quality part-time arrangements go beyond the “luck of the draw”. They are about the overall school culture, human resources practices and the general vibe of the school. For a part-timer it’s about feeling included and being treated as part of the regular workforce. It’s also about performing work that has been well thought out, is valued and is able to be performed in ways that might differ from “the way things have always been done”. For an employer it’s about working through how decisions, particularly organisational decisions, might affect employees and looking at creative and flexible responses to organisational challenges. For timetablers it’s about being given the scope, time and flexibility needed to accommodate all staff in a fair and transparent way.

growing number of schools. The key is to assist all schools to be better and more flexible workplaces.

The VIEU experience The Victorian Independent Education Union has followed the academic and policy debate closely and monitored implementation of the right to request standard and the Equal Opportunity legislation amongst members. In an effort to examine the issues related to providing more flexible work arrangements in schools, VIEU has begun a project entitled, Making parttime work in non-government schools in Victoria. Its main aim is to move beyond the rights-based framework, which is still inadequate, to a more collaborative approach that delivers effective solutions. VIEU is in the first phase of the project and is conducting research to determine what the real issues and challenges are for employers, timetablers and full and part-time staff. As part of the research, focus groups on part-time work were conducted in August by research company, Evaluation Solutions. Primary and secondary school principals, human resource managers, secondary school timetablers, education support staff and parttime teachers from the Catholic and independent sectors have participated in focus groups and the responses have been extremely positive. The Union will further develop its strategy after assessing the report and focus group findings.

The Union knows these approaches work and are being undertaken in a 25

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teaching+learning

sustainable classrooms

leadership

support staff

technology

legal

opinion

reviews

divere roles diverse people

IEWs: Teaching beyond the classroom

Lots to smile about … Jesse King

There is never a day when I don’t look back and have a smile on my face about something that happened at school. Watching kids learn how to read or count and seeing the pride on their faces is priceless.”

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T

he work of Indigenous Education Workers (IEWs) in classrooms is invaluable to teachers and students.

There are over 2,500 IEWs across Australia, going by different titles, according to state, territory or sector.

IEWs are important staff members who assist their schools understanding of Indigenous culture. IEWs support the school in understanding local culture, practices and beliefs and, in turn, help introduce families to the culture, practices and beliefs of a school.

Although the titles are different, they play essentially the same role, supporting Indigenous students in the classroom and by liaising with parents, families and communities.

The job description is broad and IEWs can find themselves doing much more than helping students with their studies.

To find out more about IEWs and to download the Same Kids Same Goals toolkit for principals and IEWs, visit www.samekidssamegoals.org

They can act as liaisons between families and schools, as support workers, mentors and counsellors, and often run programs such as homework centres and breakfast clubs. Indigenous Education Worker Jesse King from St Joseph’s College in Katherine in the Northern Territory, says that every work day is different. “However, a typical day at work can start with helping out in the classroom, taking students to a meeting for work experience, assisting with enrolments of new students, then kicking a footy around at lunchtime, having behaviour management meetings in the afternoons and ending with an hour of homework centre and a bus trip out to the local communities. “We try to provide explicit support for students who have missed a lot of school. Usually these kids need as much one on one support as they can get so we try and get to them as often as possible.” Their outside activities are equally diverse.

To their schools, they provide an Indigenous insight and act as a resource for fellow staff members into appropriate pedagogy and the development of programs with an Indigenous perspective. It is thought the role has existed for more than 50 years since the first Aboriginal Teaching Assistant was appointed in the Northern Territory.

“We organise work experience programs for the kids, holiday programs, sports days and competitions. We organise events such as Harmony Day and NAIDOC celebrations and try to get the older students to have as much input into the celebrations as possible. “We attend community meetings and festivals and like to show we are all capable of working together for the children.” One of the recent successes at St Joseph’s was the junior accelerated literacy class travelling for a morning lesson with the local community. Jesse says it gave parents an insight into what happens at school and parents, teachers and students mingled and got to know one another at a post-lesson breakfast barbecue. Jesse says the best aspect of his job is working with students. “There is never a day when I don’t look back and have a smile on my face about something that happened at school. Watching kids learn how to read or count and seeing the pride on

their faces is priceless. “Indigenous students need to see Indigenous people working, teaching and running schools to show them that when they put their mind into something, they can achieve anything.” Jesse says recent collective bargaining negotiations have given IEWs greater recognition for the hard work they put in. “Recognition and appreciation of IEWs has grown significantly within the Northern Territory in the last decade. Life and cultural experience is invaluable when dealing with Indigenous kids and Indigenous topics. For this to finally be recognised is a great step for IEWs in the Territory.” Jesse said a Union presence increased the input IEWs were able to have on the outcome of their negotiations. “By voicing our concerns together we are able to be heard.”

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editorial

profile news

reconciliation

teaching+learning

Information stream “There’s a lot about actions people can take to conserve water.”

C

an you tour a sewage treatment plant without smelling anything?

It’s now possible at Sydney Water’s upgraded online education resource that includes a virtual tour of a wastewater treatment plant. Students can take the tour individually or in class on the whiteboard. Fact sheets geared towards secondary science and geography support the virtual tour. A desalination plant virtual tour is planned for later this year. An online videoconferencing facility allows students from around the country to ask Sydney Water Recycling Education Centre staff questions about water conservation. The website also provides interactive models and games for students, and detailed lesson plans linked to specific curriculum outcomes for teachers. Materials are tailored to suit the needs of students at all stages from early primary to HSC level, covering topics such as water efficiency, treatment and supply and protecting the environment. Students can also find out about getting involved in protecting creeks and rivers, and about careers in the water industry.

Getting involved Sydney Water Community Education Officer Hayley Bates says the website emphasises active participation by teachers and students rather than “just downloading 20 worksheets”. “There’s a lot about actions people can take to conserve water and get involved,” Hayley says.

“We encourage people to partner with us, because that’s how people learn and bring about change. “We aim to provide a quality education resource linked to the curriculum to teach children about the value of water.” For principals, there is information on how to audit the amount of water a school uses, practical school water efficiency strategies and topics on applying for a school rainwater tank or other funding to improve water efficiency.

Secondary resources “A lot of the new work has been aimed at the secondary level. The feedback we’ve been getting from teachers is that it’s fairly easy to find resources for the primary level, but teachers are crying out for more resources at the secondary level. “With the advent of the National Curriculum we’ve tried to gear our material to it.”

“Teachers have also told us keeping up with the latest technology is a challenge, so our website is updated all the time to include the latest advances in technology. “We showcase new water technologies as they emerge.” In conjunction with the Australian Museum, Sydney Water is also producing Museum in a Box, which can be ordered for schools and contains hands-on resources and exhibits. The box is aimed at upper primary and lower secondary students and is about ‘fresh water’. However, it is only available in NSW. n The 20-minute virtual tour is at www.sydneywater.com.au/Education/ Tours/ n The resource is at www.sydneywater. com.au/education n Museum in a Box: www. australianmuseum.net.au/museum-ina-box-freshwater

National Curriculum writer Glenn Halliday from the Environment Education Centre has written the secondary material on the website. Primary Teacher Vicki Morante has written the other material.

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sustainable classrooms

leadership

support staff

technology

technology

AB C

“In the past it was a challenge trying to align our content to different state curriculums.”

easy as 1 2 3

T

he ABC is reviewing how it connects with teachers, and is piloting two new online resources.

The environment collection comprises extracts from news, current affairs and science programs and features the work of Australian scientists tackling climate change, water availability and quality, biodiversity and sustainability.

The Education Services Australia (ESA) pilot brings together ABC archival and contemporary material on two subjects relevant to the new Australian Curriculum: post-war Indonesia and the environment. The Teachers’ Resources pilot features science content that could relate to the NSW or Australian Curriculum.

The clips have been identified by year, level and learning area and are supported by notes written by curriculum experts.

ABC Innovation Senior Producer Monique Potts says the Australian Curriculum has been the catalyst for the revamp of ABC educational resources. “In the past it was a challenge trying to align our content to different state curriculums,” she says. “The National Curriculum is a good opportunity for us to look at how we can map our content so teachers can search for a particular subject by keyword, year or subject. “Education is part of the ABC’s charter and Mark Scott [ABC Managing Director] is looking at the ABC’s role in education in an ongoing way. “The feedback we have had from teachers is that they are already coming to the ABC for a lot of content - for instance streaming Behind The News on an interactive whiteboard. “But some have commented that it can be hard to find content, or when they find something it’s not always there when they come back to it. “Resources can be found on Scootle and other teachers’ intranets. Teachers then click back through to ABC online to view or download the clips.”

 In

partnership

The ABC has been working with educational partners to develop the new websites. For the Teachers’ Resource Pilot, it worked with the Centre for Learning Innovation, which is part of the NSW Education Department. The Education Services Australia pilot features 20 video clips on post-war Indonesia and the environment. The Indonesian content is taken from news and current affairs shows and focuses on the rise of nationalism in Indonesia during the Second World War, the struggle for independence, the Sukarno years to 1967, the Suharto years to 1998 and most of the later presidents.

All the content is licensed for non–commercial education purposes, so teachers can use the material in the classroom in any way they wish. University of New England Science Professor and curriculum consultant Jim Scott has identified 140 items for the Teachers’ Resource Pilot. In the future the ABC Learn website will be home to trials of other new services for teachers. Teachers can subscribe to an email newsletter for updates at www.abc.net. au/learn. The Educational Services Australia pilot is at www.abceducation.net.au/ esapilot and the Teachers’ Resource Pilot is at www.abceducation.net.au

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technology

legal

opinion

reviews

legal

Private V

IEU Senior Industrial Officer Denis Matson looks at the main obligations on teachers when dealing with sensitive school information.

Legal obligations Teachers have obligations to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of much of the information they receive, such as personal information about students and their families, and the workings of the school. Be professional and circumspect about how you deal with it, but don’t be over-awed. Be aware that: n you may be obliged to report some information that comes to you, such as serious illegal conduct and physical and sexual abuse, so avoid promising to ‘keep a secret’ n some information is not “confidential” at all, because it is not “sensitive” or is available in other ways.

Professional conduct Registration bodies set standards of professional conduct required of teachers and generally summarise the obligations that arise from various sources. A good example is the Victorian (VIT) code. It requires teachers to: n take all reasonable measures to protect students from intimidation, embarrassment, humiliation or harm n respect a student’s privacy in sensitive matters, such as health or family problems. To only reveal confidential matters when appropriate, for example if the student has consented to the information being used in a certain way to prevent or lessen a serious threat to life, health, safety or welfare of a person

& confidential (including the student) n as part of an investigation into unlawful activity n if the disclosure is required or mandated by law n to prevent a crime or enforce the law n refrain from discussing students’ personal problems where the information may not be treated confidentially, and n in personal communications, act with discretion and maintain confidentiality when discussing workplace issues.

Sources of obligations School Policies and Your Letter/ Contract of Employment – These are often onerous and designed to protect the school’s interests rather than be a practical guide for you. The common law also implies confidentiality obligations into your contract of employment — essentially not to use confidential information to harm your employer. Provided what you do is objectively reasonable, you should not be too concerned about the detail of policies and clauses in your letter of appointment. The Privacy Act —Don’t be too threatened by references to the Act. Generally the Act requires people only to use information for the purposes for which it was provided. If you follow the professional conduct guidelines above, you are unlikely to offend the Act. Defamation — You have an obligation not to disclose confidential information without good cause, where that disclosure will damage a person’s reputation. Defamation

actions are sometimes threatened, but it is extremely rare for teachers to be sued.

What is fair and reasonable? What is fair and reasonable will depend on all the circumstances, but some of the usual considerations are: n whether disclosure was for a legitimate purpose n whether disclosure was for personal gain or advantage n who the information went to n whether the information was “deidentified” n whether there was damage to the reputation of the school, colleagues, parents etc.

Mandatory Reporting Most states have mandatory reporting legislation that over-rides all confidentiality obligations. If you suspect a student is being subjected to physical or sexual abuse, you must report it to the relevant authority.

Discussing workplace problems Occasionally a principal gets it in their head that staff are not permitted to be critical of management. This is simply misguided. Provided you do not defame them you are entitled to talk with other staff and the Union about workplace problems. When doing this, stick to the facts, avoid making generalisations and don’t personalise the issues. For further information, including about confidentiality and nonteaching staff, you can call your union office or visit your union’s website.

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Diary

WE COME TO YOU!!!!

Assessment Symposium The Blind Assessor: Are we constraining or enriching student learning?

leadership success

Assessment is a highly contested area of school education. This symposium presents a range of experts in this area who, by the end of the day’s program, will offer you a greater knowledge and insight into this complex area of schooling.

Registration is now open. Early-bird registrations close 25 February, 2011.

22 November, 2010 University of Sydney

Positive Schools Conference

n network with fellow professionals n attend forums about leadership in education and early childhood.

To download a conference brochure, visit the QSA website at http:// www.qsa.qld.edu.au/

Details: Rachel Payne, phone (02) 9351 8520, email rachel.payne@ sydney.edu.au

The Positive Schools 2011 conference will focus on wellbeing for teachers. There will be numerous presentations plus interactive workshops.

Queensland Studies Authority Conference

The Conference is on 12-14 May in Fremantle, WA; in Brisbane on the 26-27 May; Adelaide 17 May and Melbourne 20 May. 

Vision to Reality: Queensland’s New Education Landscape is the Queensland Studies Authority’s 2011 conference for school leaders, teachers and education professionals. It will provide opportunities to engage with a wide range of education issues across the early childhood years to Year 12.

See positiveschools.com.au for full details.

The conference will be held from 2729 April at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Mercure Hotel, Haymarket, Sydney Friday 6 May 2011

The QSA’s 2011 conference will offer delegates opportunities to: n hear national and international education experts n engage with the new Australian Curriculum n explore the themes of assessment literacy, quality teaching and

IEU Teach Survive Thrive Conference  A conference for teachers in their early years of teaching.

Eighteenth International Conference on Learning University of Mauritius, Mauritius 5-8 July 2011 http://www.LearningConference. com

SMobile O Senvironmental AUSSIES education Hands On with Live ReptiLes

Celebrating 20 years of professional service to primary and secondary schools.

“there is no better presentation than sOs aussies. it is a leader in it’s field...” BRYCe COURtenaY “With over 1000 students from Yr3 - Yr12 involved, the presentations were outstanding. Just BRiLLiant! i highly recommend it... v ellis. Barker College. sydney. 2010 “Hands on experience still being talked about... LOvedit!” C. Brown. John paul College. 2010 “visually excellent! FantastiC sHOW! exciting! Forster public school. 2010. supporting 2011 national science theme .... Living things “React to Chemistry”

BOOK nOW for next week,

next month, next term, neXt YeaR. info@sosaussies.com www.sosaussies.com ph. 02 43856776 Fax. 02 43856778 pO Box 777. terrigal. nsW. 2260

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teaching+learning

sustainable classrooms

leadership

support staff

technology

legal

opinion

reviews

talking point

Would students benefit from a stand-alone ethics course?

?

Parent
Maree Tyrrell has a son in a Brisbane Catholic high school and two others who have graduated.

Preparation for life In today’s society I believe school students could benefit from a stand-alone ethics course, as it seems the majority of secondary school children do not make the right ethical choices in life. In this day and age students are given a lot more freedom from their parents by going out by themselves or with their friends. I have found this is where they need to be taught more about what can happen and the influences of the wrong people they may come across. My children have endured these kinds of experiences in the past, including one incident with my eldest boy having an altercation with a boy at school who was in a gang. This altercation accelerated into death threats and being attacked. This is the sort of thing that is going on in this

generation. We need to teach these children what can happen in the real world when they choose to make the wrong choices and assault other people. This age group is just starting to explore life by getting that little more freedom and responsibility from their parents. Many are taught religion in schools. I also believe we need to teach them what can happen when they leave school. We need to prepare our children to make the right choices in their lives. Therefore, we do need stand-alone ethics classes to make sure our kids know how to cope with life after school. 

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Michael Rees Year 11 Student Newington College Stanmore, Sydney.

Jennifer Aduckiewicz Assistant Principal Cerdon College Merrylands, Sydney.

?

Questions not answers

Ethics part of every conversation

What is the purpose of education in a modern society? Too often the focus of education has been to provide students with answers, yet our times require the development of a system that better enables students to ask important questions.

As Assistant Principal, Pastoral Care, I head a team of guidance coordinators whose role it is to instil a sense of valuing self and others within our community.

Ethical education in schools fosters the development of questioning skills, resulting in better student understanding of, and engagement with, contemporary issues.

This now forms the basis of our pastoral care policy where students are encouraged to reflect on their behaviour, take responsibility for their actions, make amends as appropriate and make a commitment to refrain from the behaviour in the future.

With regards to important questions in our global community, it would seem impossible for students to understand the underlying principles of justice, immigration, healthcare and freedom of speech, as well as more modern issues like genetic research and modification, globalisation, environmental degradation and cyber bullying without at least a reasonable grounding in the methodology of deciding whether an action is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and why certain groups and faiths adopt particular positions on these issues. Ethical education is not attempting to answer these questions by providing an alternative ‘values system’ for students, but is instead providing them with a framework with which they can understand ‘how’ to think about ethical issues. If education is to remain the ‘transmission of civilisation’, as the American novelist and historian William Durant put it, our classes and education system must address the issues of morality and ethics that are crucial to our society. This is the potential and, I hope, the power of ethical education classes.

issue3_2010_2.indd 33

Our pastoral care policy is based on a joint initiative of students, parents and staff to identify the rights and responsibilities of each member of the school community.

This approach aims to lead young people to ethical outcomes for themselves and others. Our pastoral care programs remain flexible enough to deal with the myriad of issues that regularly crop up. Although kept very busy, the development of values and ethical education is not left to the pastoral team. Values education and ethical behaviour underpin the culture of the school and every member of staff engages in the process. It is not possible to separate ethics from our Catholicity. In 2010, cyber-use and cyber-bullying was the focus of a whole school training workshop with every teacher leading the students through a range of activities.

?

However, these formal programs only set the scene for a myriad of conversations each member of staff has with individual girls. Whether it be the secretary dealing with a sick child, the counsellor supporting a student feeling depressed or a teacher challenging a student to do their best, values education and ethics-based discussions underline the fabric of relationships within our Catholic school community. After 20 years in pastoral care there are thousands of good news stories to tell. Let us not cave in to a new educational agenda when the one we have works.

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technology

legal

opinion

reviews

reviews

in review:

Patch is spot on

J

udging by the wows, guffaws, questions and gasps, Patch Theatre Company’s production Special Delivery at Sydney’s Riverside Theatre was right on target for its audience of Year 1s and 2s. And what could illustrate the importance of live theatre for young children more aptly than an audience member’s question to her teacher about an actor: “Is that a real person”? Considering the stage was only a few metres away her question seems surprising, but these days children are constantly exposed to realistic computer animation in movies and games, and rarely to live performance.

“Is that a real person?”

This grown-up couldn’t detect the sleight of hand used to perform the tricks; they were slick and had the kids yelling: “What the . . .”. Special Delivery, like all Patch Theatre Productions, is aimed at 4-8 year-olds. It employs visual learning, there is no dialogue, but every move of the two actors on stage is accompanied by a cacophony of sounds supplied by a busy foley (sound) artist, who is clearly visible to the audience, and a source of fascination.

All the more reason why it’s great that a production like Special Delivery can take children into a magical world that could inspire a lifelong love of theatre.

The story concerns a busy deliveryman who gets dragged away from his everyday concerns by some surprise packages. Artistic Director Dave Brown says he wants to tap into children’s sense of wonder, and as the actor is drawn into his surreal world, the children travel with him.

Magical would be the right description for the show, as it features some traditional tricks such as tearing up and reconstituting newspaper, performed in a variety of creative ways.

There’s use of lots of boxes of different shapes and sizes, boxes inside boxes, mirror imaging, puzzles and shapes that could inspire maths discussion. But the production is not really about that; it’s

about fun and illusion. Based in South Australia, Patch will tour four productions around Australia in 2011: Little Green Tractor, a musical about perseverance; Me and My Shadow, the fanciful story of a girl who makes friends with her shadow; The Happiest Show on Earth, described as a carnivalstyle singalong and Mr McGee and the Biting Flea, which features six Pamela Allen stories. All Patch Theatre productions are matched with an extensive set of teacher’s notes. Next year’s Patch Theatre productions can be seen at locations as varied as Sydney’s Opera House; Tanunda, and Mt Gambier in South Australia; Tasmania and the Victorian Arts Centre. For details check the website www. patchtheatre.org.au Reviewed by Journalist Sue Osborne

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or

?

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For further information or to make an appointment please call 1300 133 177. We’re here to help you! This information is general information only. Any recommendation, statements of opinion or financial advice have been prepared without taking account of your personal circumstances, investment objectives, financial situation and needs. You should read the Member Guide (Product Disclosure Statement) and assess your own situation before you make a financial decision based on this information. You may wish to seek professional advice when doing this.

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The School of Education at UNSW is a research-intensive school and a key player in the professional preparation and development of teachers and other educational professionals in Australia and internationally. These three postgraduate coursework programs include eight courses which may be taken full time or part time, with commencement in March or July. Commonwealth supported places are available.

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Gain valuable professional development through advanced interdisciplinary studies in Education and Applied Linguistics. The program is tailored for those working or intending to work in TEFL/TESL or TESOL.

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