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November 2015

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relief teaching juggling expectations and uncertainty





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australian Teacher • November 2015


Chalk is cheap

IT’S been an exciting month in Australian politics. Not only do we have a new Prime Minister, but we’ve also welcomed Simon Birmingham into the role of Federal Education Minister. In the News section this month, we’ve taken a closer look at Birmingham’s political background and outlined some of the policy changes he’s made thus far. For our Hard Word this month, Keith Heggart has written a scathing review of Christopher Pyne’s time in the role, and outlines the many ‘failures’ of the former Education Minister. On a brighter note, this issue also includes two special reports, one on PE and Outdoor Education and the other on Music Education. We’re also really thrilled to have launched our EducationSurvey for 2015. The survey provides an independent and wide-reaching analysis of the tastes, opinions and thoughts of educators right across Australia. Visit survey/australia to have your say. I really hope you enjoy this issue.

Charges laid over fight BRISBANE, Oct 21 - A fight that erupted in front of students outside their school has resulted in a man being charged and a teenager cautioned. The brawl occurred outside Pacific Pines High School as students were leaving for the day. The man was charged with going armed to cause fear, possession of a knife in a public place and driving while under the influence.

AUCKLAND (New Zealand), Oct 20 A student from an Auckland college has hacked into their school email database and sent out pornographic images to 2700 of their fellow students. Dale Burden, headmaster of Mount Albert Grammar, told Radio NZ that the culprit created a fake email to break into the email list. An inquiry into the matter is now underway.

School lock down scare SYDNEY, Oct 20 - Two neighbouring schools have gone into lock down after being sent social media threats. Police were called to East Hills Boys High School and Sir Joseph Banks High School to respond to the situation. “Parents contacting the school are being told that their children are safe but they can collect them if they want to,” the NSW Department of Education stated.

Recycled oval watering ADELAIDE, Oct 19 - Under a local government scheme, schools across the state are moving towards using recycled water to irrigate their ovals. According to Education Minister Susan Close, the government-led initiative (which has cost more than $165,000 to implement) is expected to save thousands of dollars each year. Eight schools in the northern suburbs have recently made the switch.

Lilydale TAFE revived MELBOURNE, Oct 19 - The doors will reopen at Lilydale TAFE next year thanks to a $10 million Labor pledge to revive the campus. Swinburne University closed the site in 2013 following the Coalition’s changes to higher education funding. Box Hill Institute will now run the campus, which is expected to host higher education courses, child care services and a tech school. Email briefs to

Late start will help... page 12

Hacker causes carnage

Welcome Simon!

Rebecca Vukovic EDITOR

Govt school apology for fee charge A VICTORIAN state school has apologised for charging parents $270 to enrol their child and has refunded the money. Parents were asked to pay the non-refundable fee in an online enrolment form to secure a place at Northcote High School. Victorian Education Minister James Merlino says the school did the wrong thing. It has now withdrawn the enrolment fee, apologised to parents and reimbursed anyone who paid the money. “This is something that schools should not do,” Merlino said. “We’re making sure every school understands education is free. There’s no payment, there’s no down payment on the enrolment of students.” He did not believe other schools were charging an enrolment fee, but said the Education Department has issued the school a warning over the fee, which goes against Victorian legislation that state schools must offer free education to students. The department will also write

index News Opinion Cover Story PE & Outdoor Ed Music in Education In the Classroom Technology PD  Events  Around the Traps In the Staffroom Careers

6-18 20-24 26-27 29-32 35-36 39-48 55-57 59-61 62 63 64 65-71

Managing Editor Grant Quarry Editor Rebecca Vukovic Journalists Chelsea Attard, Sarah Duggan Art Director Jeremy Smart Business Development Manager Sandra Colli Admin & Sales Coordinator Anita D’Angelo Financial Controller Loretta Zoppos Media Sales Executive Natasha Bozajkovska Contributors Linus Lane, Dan Haesler, Anne Vize, Noelene Callaghan, Merran O’Connor, Keith Heggart, Elise Bennetts, Eli Cohn Tel: +61 3 9421 4499 Fax: +61 3 9421 1011 Post: Locked Bag 2001, Clifton Hill VIC 3068 Subscriptions: Schools across Australia are invited to subscribe to Australian Teacher Magazine. Request a subscription form Individual subscriptions are also available. Printed by: Rural Press NSW Distributed by: Speedy Print & Distribution Service Pty Ltd Disclaimer: The views in this newspaper do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Privacy Policy: To receive a copy of our privacy policy write to the address above. Contribution: Australian Teacher Magazine welcomes contributions and story ideas from readers. Articles should be no longer than 450 words, letters to the editor 350 words.

A Victorian public school has apologised for charging an enrolment fee. to all government schools to advise them that it’s not appropriate to request a payment to secure a place at a school. “Victorian legislation provides that instruction in the standard curriculum program must be provided free to all students in Victorian government schools,” a spokesman said. Northcote High School principal Kate Morris has reportedly  #GreatSchoolLibraries

said the payment was for essential education items, school camps and sporting activities. “This payment requirement has now been removed by the school’s external portal provider and parents can now complete the external online enrolment process without making a payment. The school will clarify the payment options in our next communication to families.”

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November 2015 • australian Teacher


education minister

INBRIEF Birmingham steps up for top job Exams not everything

AUSTRALIA’s education system has a new leader after a major reshuffle to the government’s cabinet in September. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new-look ministry officially took up their new positions at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra. The Coalition’s long-serving Education Minister Christopher Pyne was switched to the industry portfolio, while the former Assistant Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham took over education. Pyne congratulated his colleague on the new appointment, saying he is proud of the achievements the portfolio has made. “I offer my sincere congratulations to my good friend and colleague Senator Simon Birmingham who will be the new Minister for Education and Training,” Pyne said in a statement. “It was my honour to serve as Minister for Education and Training. Over the last two years, the Coalition has worked hard to deliver on its key commitments.” Pyne notes several key achievements during that time, including school funding, restoring the focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools and the launch of the Leaning Potential app to assist parents to engage more effective-

Simon Birmingham is the Federal Minister for Education in Malcolm Turnbull’s new-look ministry. ly with their children’s education. Since the announcement of the cabinet reshuffle, several key education bodies have come out to thank Pyne on his service to education. The Group of Eight said they consider the new Federal portfolio of Industry, Innovation and Science to be led by Pyne to be an inspired choice by Turnbull. “In the years we have worked closely with Minister Pyne his commitment to innovation for the benefit of the nation has been to the forefront,” Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson says. “We are particularly pleased he will be managing the Prime Min-

ister’s determination to increase the collaboration between universities and business.” The National Chair of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), Phillip Heath, welcomed the appointment of Birmingham as Minister for Education in the Turnbull Government. Heath, who is head of Barker College in New South Wales, said the new minister faced significant challenges in the development of national education policy, particularly in relation to schools funding. “Independent schools have a direct relationship with the Commonwealth Government, and we therefore highly value an open, consultative relationship with the minister’s office,” Heath said, “We have appreciated our relationship with the former minister, the Hon Christopher Pyne, and his Senior Adviser for Schools, Dr Scott Prasser, and anticipate equally good relations with the incoming minister.” The Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) also welcomed Birmingham’s appointment, with acting executive director, Colette Colman saying that she looked forward to working with Birmingham on a wide range of education-related issues, particularly those that will affect the independent schools sector.

“During his time as Assistant Minister for Education and Training Mr Birmingham has demonstrated his strong credentials in the education sector, and we look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the Minister’s office, including ongoing negotiations to secure predictable and stable funding arrangements for independent schools into the future,” she said. The new education minister has pledged to build broad support for policy reforms and a continuing commitment to reform of vocational training as he and fellow South Australian Pyne take on positions at the centre of Turnbull’s innovation agenda. Birmingham has served as a Liberal Party Senator for South Australia since May 2007. He grew up near Gawler in Adelaide’s north on his family’s small horse agistment property. Birmingham was educated at government schools before going on to study at the University of Adelaide where he completed a Masters of Business Administration. After being appointed to the role of Assistant Minister for Education and Training in December 2014, Birmingham was given the specific responsibility for vocational education, apprenticeships, training and skills.

CANBERRA, Oct 14 - Nationals MP Andrew Broad has told students that their exam results will not dictate the success of their future. Urging students to simply “do your best and enjoy your life”, Broad admitted he had no clue what he wanted to do after leaving school. “I certainly didn’t think I’d finish up having a say in how the country was run,” he said.

QTU power overstated BRISBANE, Oct 14 - Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones has dismissed claims that the Queensland Teachers Union has too much power over policy and the administration of schools. Jones deflected concerns that the union, which represents 90 per cent of the state’s educators, had been granted the power to vote down applications by state schools to become independent public schools.

Lock down scares kids SYDNEY, Oct 15 - Reports that a gunman was on school grounds have left students from Calare Public School shaken. Police responded to the precautionary lock down at the school but gave the all-clear soon after. One student said that they hid under the desks in fright after the five bells rang out to signal lock down. Email briefs to

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australian Teacher • November 2015

INBRIEF Baird moving too slowly radicalisation fears

Truck slams into bus

MELBOURNE, Oct 5 - Forty-seven students from Euroa Secondary College are lucky to be alive after a truck slammed into their school bus on a freeway. Eleven of the students suffered minor injuries and were sent to hospital. Police were surprised that nobody was seriously hurt. “Everybody walking away today with only minor injuries, it’s a very lucky day for everyone involved,” acting sergeant Braden Wright said.

Mining chems hinder BROKEN HILL, Oct 6 - A link between areas contaminated by mining chemicals and lower academic results in children has been confirmed in a new study. Researchers found that students from the town of Broken Hill who were exposed to contaminants such as lead and arsenic were more than twice as likely to have issues with two or more areas of development.

Entrepreneurs failed CANBERRA, Oct 8 - The education system isn’t providing students with the skills they need to be entrepreneurial in their future, according to a MYOB survey. Of the 400 owners of small enterprises that participated, more than 75 per cent said that you don’t need a degree to run a business, while 43 per cent reported their education had not helped them to operate the firm. Email briefs to

THE New South Wales Opposition wants a parliamentary inquiry into radicalisation in schools, saying the Baird Government is moving too slowly on the issue. “It is urgent [that] there is peace of mind for parents sending their children off to school and that this is being dealt with seriously, instead of a clumsy, reactive approach,” Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney said. Burney said the warning signs were there after two Sydney Boys High School students were stopped at Sydney airport in March, reportedly on their way to join Islamic State, and allegations a teenager was preaching extremist ideology at the same school. “It would have been prudent for the department (of education) to have had something in place well before now,” Burney said. Labor is also calling on the government to urgently act on a recently completed audit into prayer groups in public schools. Mike Baird announced the audit in July following allegations from counter-terrorism police that a teenager has been preaching extremist ideology at Sydney’s Epping Boys High School. Baird has ordered work on counter-radicalisation in the state’s schools to be sped up in the wake of a deadly terror attack in Parramatta earlier this month.

New South Wales Labor wants a parliamentary inquiry into radicalisation and prayer groups in schools. However, Federal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has rejected suggestions school prayer groups could be a “doorway” to extremism, saying prayer is a “good thing”. The industry minister, who was previously in charge of the education portfolio, also said banning such groups would be counterproductive. “I don’t think prayer is the problem,” Pyne told the Nine Network. “Radicalisation is the problem and that’s why, when I was Educa-

tion Minister, I asked the state and territory ministers to join with me in a de-radicalisation program in schools. “Let’s not address the wrong issue, let’s address the right issue.” The minister was backed by Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. “We need to target, very effectively, that radicalisation because if we get distracted by other issues, we won’t be as effective as we should be in targeting it,” Albanese said.

qld syllabus

Push for creators and innovators QUEENSLAND students in Prep to Year 10 will start learning coding and robotics at school next year. The State Government has released a discussion paper called #codingcounts about the addition of these strands to the syllabus ahead of next year’s rollout. The paper provides an opportunity for the community to join a conversation on how the government can support students to be digital creators and innovators. The state will also offer the new Digital Technologies Australian Curriculum from 2016 in state schools, with teachers supported through professional development, teaching resources and scholarships “We are going to see incredible changes in technology when it comes to farming practices in this state, when it comes to biofuels, when it comes to manufacturing. There is a world of opportunities and our young people need to be part of it,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

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australian Teacher • November 2015

qld govt responds

No plan for public fees

QUEENSLAND’S Government has strenuously denied Opposition claims it’s planning to charge fees at public schools. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg says confidential cabinet documents reveal the government discussed co-payments for high-income families in June. When Leader of the House Stirling Hincliffe tried to force the LNP leader to table the documents, Springborg replied: “With absolute delight. But let me have it for another two minutes because you’re going to get it.” He accused the Labor Government of having a secret plan to slug public school students with fees. “No one should in any way be surprised by this because sitting over there with the Member for Bundamba, the Member for Ashgrove, the Member for Woodridge, the Member for Inala, the Member for Mulgrave and also the Member for Sandgate are people that have a track record of secrecy,” Springborg told parliament. “People over there that now, Mr Speaker, want to attack the underlying principle of free education.” Education Minister Kate Jones laughed at the Opposition and said the documents were clearly labelled “Not government policy – For discussion only”. “A Labor government would never ever,

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk denies her government is planning to charge fees at public schools. ever means test public education in this state,” Jones said. “And the only person that has ever put that on paper, the only person in this country who has ever put that on paper, is your former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk later clarified the document had been prepared by an individual policy officer and had not been provided to the Premier’s office. “It was not cleared by anyone in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and does not reflect the department’s approved policy advice,” she said.

new project

Kids using maths to solve real world problems EDUCATION Minister Simon Birmingham has announced a new project where students will help solve real world problems to demonstrate the relevance of maths to their lives and communities. The Federal Government has committed $6.4 million from the Mathematics by Inquiry initiative to support the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers to develop and promote new maths resources for Foundation to Year 10 students. “From mechanics to master chefs, budding filmmakers to Wi-Fi inventors, skateboard designers to space shuttle pilots – maths is part of the way we live and work,” Birmingham said in a statement. “Yet when people think of maths they usually think textbooks and timetables. “These new curriculum and teaching ma-

INBRIEF SA push for junk food ad ban ADELAIDE, Sept 30 - One South Australian councillor is pushing for a ban on junk food advertisements that appear on bus shelters near schools. Jason Veliskou was spurred into action when he noticed one advertisement featuring “a teenage boy looking longingly at a piece of fried food before he put it in his mouth”. Veliskou believes children should not be the target of such campaigns.

Ora pledge for home country LONDON, Sept 30 - Pop starlet Rita Ora intends to pay for a school to be built in Kosovo. Having been made an honorary ambassador of her homeland, Ora has plans to fund construction of the new school in the capital Pristina – the city where she was born. A source told Britain’s The Sun newspaper that the superstar hopes to inspire students there to maintain hope for the future. Email briefs to

terials will help make maths more meaningful and more attractive to students...” The plan is to have the first resources developed through the Mathematics by Inquiry initiative available in late 2016. “Australia’s performance in mathematical literacy in schools has fallen in absolute and relative terms to its lowest level in 20 years,” Birmingham said. “Of the countries tested in 2003, only five significantly outperformed Australia in mathematical literacy but by 2012 we were outperformed by 12 countries. “Clearly, we can, and need to, do better.” Mathematics by Inquiry is a key part of the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda in which more than $12 million is being spent to improve the focus on the teaching of STEM subjects in schools across Australia.

cooperation Oz and NZ join forces exploring future learning environments AUSTRALIA and New Zealand are launching a ground-breaking trans-Tasman education project which will explore how innovative learning environments can enhance teaching. New Zealand’s Education Minister Hekia Parata said her ministry and at least six New Zealand schools will take part in the four-year project. It will be led by the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network and the New Zealand Government will put $160,000 into it. “Classrooms need to be equipped to enable 21st century teaching practice and inspire children and young people to succeed,” Parata told reporters. “That’s why this project is ground-breaking and timely. “It will look at the potential for innovative learning environments to enhance teaching practice and improve student achievement.”

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australian Teacher • November 2015

Oneschool review

System’s serious flaws


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Late start will help learning


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NO children were harmed due to a government computer glitch that meant about 1000 reports of suspected abuse in Queensland schools never made it to police, the state’s Education Minister says. Kate Jones announced that Deloitte had finished a review into the failed OneSchool reporting system and the government would adopt all 21 of the report’s recommendations. Ten technical recommendations had already been implemented, she said. “I am advised that there is no evidence that children suffered further harm as a result of the IT failure,” Jones said. She said the report found there weren’t enough checks in place when the program was implemented in January 2013 under the former Liberal National Party Government’s watch, allowing a coding error from a contractor to slip through unnoticed. That error meant police never received low level reports of suspected child abuse made by school principals. “The Deloitte report found that there were serious flaws in the risk assessment undertaken prior to the implementation of the update in January 2015,” Jones said. “There were serious resourcing and government failures dating back to the initial implementation of the OneSchool student protection module in September 2013.” Jones said the report found 230 IT workers were sacked by the former LNP Government around the same time the govern-


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ADELAIDE, Sept 25 - In order to boost academic results, senior school classes should commence as late as 11am, a parent body says. The South Australian Association of State School Organisations has proposed that a trial of later start times be run, saying international research suggests that starting later reduces student absenteeism and improves academic results. Director David Knuckey noted teenagers struggle to rise early.

Coming out art ban regretful PERTH, Sept 30 - A students’ artwork which showed a man coming out as a homosexual was banned from being displayed in an art exhibition. Governor Stirling High School principal Pasco Putrino said that in hindsight he realises this was the wrong decision. He has since apologised to the student. The theme of the exhibition was ‘social issues and controversial topics’. Email briefs to

ment shifted towards an online reporting model. She blamed Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek, who served as the LNP’s Education Minister. But Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg insisted the government rushed the report’s publication to distract voters from controversies surrounding embattled MP Billy Gordon, who was found to be filling in for ministers at official events despite being forced from the Labor party earlier this year. “She [Jones] certainly wasn’t prepared, she was gulping and gasping and rushing this release and seeking to blame the previous government,” Springborg said. The state politicians have earlier been accused of throwing stones over the issue. “It’d be great if politics could take a back seat and they could all just come together on this one issue and just keep our kids safe,” a frustrated Hetty Johnston, founder of child protection group Bravehearts, said. She said the crux of the problem – that children could be in harm’s way – was “just catastrophic” and becoming lost in the political debate. Jones launched the review in July after her department found about 650 reports didn’t reach police. She said that manual checks had since uncovered about 340 more. Daily manual checks were now in place, she said.

missing school Integrated learning program recommendation for sick kids THE Missing School report has been launched at Parliament House in Canberra by a group started by three Canberra mothers whose children all had life-threatening illnesses and were being treated at the Turnbull ward of the Sydney Children’s Hospital. The report, released by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, recommends a more integrated learning program, which would include using technology to connect sick kids to their classes. There is also a push for greater awareness about the issue and for promoting more inclusion in schools, to ensure that Australia’s estimated 60,000 seriously-ill students do not feel left out when they return after periods of absence. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lent his weight to their cause, providing an encouraging written statement to the event. Patrick Vann, a student who suffers severe eczema, read it out to those gathered.

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australian Teacher • November 2015

emotional needs

INBRIEF Don’t ‘suck it up’

Bomb accused leaves

CHICAGO, Sept 22 - A 14 year-old Muslim student who drew international attention after his teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb has been withdrawn from his school. Ahmed Mohamed’s father said the surge of public support for the teenager had been overwhelming and that all three of his children would be withdrawn from the Irving Independent School District.

Margie to meet Pope PHILADELPHIA, Sept 21 - The Catholic teacher who was sacked because of her same-sex marriage has now been invited to attend a welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis at The White House. Margie Winters, who married in 2007, said she hopes to ask the Pope in-person to extend his message of inclusion to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.

Labor higher ed pledge MELBOURNE, Sept 21 - Labor has revealed the details of its $2.5 billion higher education policy, which includes $2500 in extra funding for each student from 2018. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the new policy will mean that an extra 20,000 students will be able to attend university, including those from disadvantaged families, first generation migrants, Indigenous Australians and mature-age students. Email briefs to

Teachers must learn to manage their emotional workload, a researcher says. MANY teachers do not acknowledge their own emotions in the classroom, with potentially harmful results, a researcher has said. Victoria University’s College of Education PhD candidate Jean Hopman said nearly one-in-three Australian teachers suffer burnout within their first five years, often because they are overwhelmed by the new feelings they encounter. During any given school day, teachers are exposed to a range of emotionally-charged situations, where they feel – but are not expected to express – anger, frustration, anxiety, powerlessness, and even fear, she said. “A teacher may be dealing with disruptive behaviour one moment and responding to a crying

child who says they are stupid ... the next,” Hopman said. As part of Australia’s ‘whole child’ approach, teachers are expected to recognise the emotional needs of their students, but minimise or avoid their own feelings, she said. Hopman’s research shows teachers benefit from regular opportunities to reflect on classroom incidents, such as facilitated debriefings or feedback sessions with peers or mentors that go beyond informal staffroom chats. Unless teachers begin to recognise the risk to their own health and wellbeing of not managing the ‘emotional workload’ that arises from their day-to-day activities, the profession’s high burnout rate will never improve, she said.

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stop work action

Workload and wages stumbling block in Qld Catholic schools pay dispute PAY disputes are continuing in Queensland, with Catholic school staff to stop work for two hours. It follows similar actions taken on two days last month. More than 6300 Independent Education Union members in 177 schools are authorised to take part in the industrial action. Union branch secretary Terry Burke says employees have been left with no choice. “Despite seven months of negotiations, Queensland Catholic school employers have so far failed to address employees’ concerns when it comes to workload and wages,” Burke said. “The employers do not care about the workload their employees are suffering and they have no provisions on the table regarding how workload pressures can be addressed.” Burke said there were also concerns that experienced teachers in Queensland were $7500 worse off than their New South Wales counterparts. An upgraded offer of a 2.5 per cent pay rise has recently been rejected. Further negotiations are scheduled for late October but the union warned industrial action would be escalated if there isn’t a change of heart from the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC).

Teachers in most Queensland Catholic schools will stop work over an ongoing pay dispute. However, the QCEC is confident a resolution can be reached. “The union has also acknowledged that there have been positive movements by both parties in relation to some of the outstanding claim items,” QCEC executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry said. “The constructive nature of the discussions is encouraging and employers remain committed to negotiating a fair and responsible outcome.” Perry hoped that would take effect once the agreement received the green light, ideally before Christmas. She said the planned stoppages would be unlikely to cause significant disruptions to affected schools.

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australian Teacher • November 2015

uni fee deregulation

INBRIEF Minister’s rethink

Non-gender toilets

LOS ANGELES (US), Sept 11 - To recognise the needs of transgender people, an elementary school has become the first in the United States to phase out gendered bathrooms. Miraloma Elementary School has eight students who do not conform to a gender, and principal Sam Bass said the move would ensure they understood there was equality for all.

HSC hackers in strife SYDNEY, Sept 11 - A small group of HSC students have been accused of hacking into the Department of Education’s computer system in an attempt to change school assessment marks. The department has launched a thorough investigation with the help of Penrith High School. The accused students used a teacher’s login details to access the system and are now being disciplined.

Bring Mojgan home BRISBANE, Sept 12 - The husband of Iranian asylum seeker Mojgan Shamsalipoor, who was a student at Yeronga State High School before she was sent to a high security facility in Darwin, has spoken out against the government’s decision. “Mojgan does not belong in the middle of a desert behind fences and under guard,” Milad Jafari said at a public rally. Email briefs to

FEDERAL Education Minister Simon Birmingham has delayed university fee deregulation for at least a year, giving students funding certainty for 2016. The new minister has indicated he is rethinking all aspects of a package to overhaul higher education that has so far been rejected twice in the Senate. “With only three months left in 2015, it is necessary to give both universities and students certainty about what the higher education funding arrangements for 2016 will be,” Birmingham told an audience at the University of Melbourne. “Any future reforms, should they be legislated, would not commence until 2017 at the earliest.” Existing arrangements, with indexed funding, will continue for the next year. Former Education Minister Christopher Pyne unveiled the proposed changes in the 2014 budget, with plans to have them start from January 2016. They included a deregulation of fees, an expansion of government funding to private providers and degrees below bachelor level, a 20 per cent cut to federal per-student funding and the dumping of loan fees for vocational students. After the Senate rejected the package for a second time in March, Pyne insisted he would

Simon Birmingham has delayed university fee deregulation until at least 2017. again put it to parliament before the end of the year. Birmingham now says that won’t happen. Instead, he will use the extra time to consult with the higher education sector, students, employers and Senate crossbenchers. “To those who claim consideration of reform is about ideology or privilege, you are dead wrong,” Birmingham said. “I will only ever champion reforms that achieve both equity and excellence.” Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek is pleased with the oneyear reprieve but said the government should dump its plans entirely.

better outcomes

New funding model and ambitious targets spearhead Vic Govt changes THE Victorian Government has announced a new funding model where parents’ occupations and education levels will determine how much money schools receive. Currently, funding for disadvantaged schools is based on the occupation of parents but under a $747 million investment to lift the levels of reading, maths and science across the state, parents’ education will also be considered. Premier Daniel Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino, pictured below, announced the new model at Wellington Secondary College in Mulgrave. Ambitious targets will also be set, including a 33 per cent increase in scientific literacy and halving the number of students who leave school before completing Year 12. “More of the same will mean

Victoria goes backwards,” Merlino said. “Over the last decade our outcomes ... have stalled so we have to do something different.” The money will be rolled out over four years but schools will begin receiving funding from 2016. Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace welcomed the new model. “I think what is positive is that they’re looking at the education of the whole child,” she said. Opposition leader Matthew Guy said government is rebranding old funding. “There is an ongoing review of the education system being undertaken by Steve Bracks at the moment. I would hope that it is a serious one given the government is making major announcements before it is complete,” he said.

November 2015 • australian Teacher • 17

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australian Teacher • November 2015

domestic violence

INBRIEF Education the key

Teaching’s Kanye West CALIFORNIA (US), Aug 30 - Fourth Grade teacher Adrian Perez aspires to be ‘the Kanye West of teaching’ and so to this end he has transformed his classroom at McCabe Elementary School into a Kanye West-themed space for his students to enjoy. Walls are adorned with witty displays of the singer’s lyrics, while the door reads “welcome to the good life”.

Languages ‘disinterest’ PERTH, Sept 9 - ‘Disinterest’ is the reason for why almost 150 of Western Australia’s schools have stopped teaching languages other than English, Education Minister Peter Collier said. Denying the Opposition’s claim that the decline in LOTE programs was due to funding cuts, Collier said students were being drawn instead to other subjects like photography and media studies.

Free pre-traineeships SYDNEY, Sept 11 - A $10 million pledge by the New South Wales State Government will allow school leavers to gain access to free pre-traineeship and pre-apprenticeship courses. John Barilaro, Minister for Skills, said the initiative will mean more people can undergo high quality and affordable training which will help to ensure that employers have a skilled workforce in the future. Email briefs to

EDUCATION about respectful relationships must be taught early and stamping out domestic violence begins at school, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said. “If we have respectful relationships where men and women, boys and girls are treated equally in our society we hope that down the track we will not see the likes of the tragic deaths that we [are seeing]…” she told ABC radio. Palaszczuk said she has been “overwhelmed” by offers from businesses and community groups to help stamp out domestic violence. She said she was contacted on the weekend by someone offering to fund a new shelter for victims of domestic violence, and that businesses from around the state had also been offering help. “This is something that people are really taking seriously,” she says. Palaszczuk said the issue had become an urgent priority for her government after a week earlier this year when there were five attacks on women by men across Queensland and New South Wales. Three women and two children died and in Queensland, one of the men shot himself. Palaszczuk said men needed to be empowered to talk more about

Stamping out domestic violence starts at school, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says. their feelings, and they needed to be role models for each other. “It’s about being open and honest and frank, and I think men need to call other men on issues,” she said. “If you see someone in a pub doing the wrong thing, call them on it. Say ‘come on mate, that’s not the way you handle this’.” The government is trying to push through new laws with tougher penalties for domestic violence offenders, and will fast-track 140 recommendations made in Dame Quentin Bryce’s landmark Not Now, Not Ever report.

national curriculum

Nation’s education ministers joined in advocating importance of phonics A REVISED and rebalanced national curriculum with a greater focus on phonics in teaching reading will be unveiled after education ministers from all jurisdictions agreed to its release. It includes streamlining subjects taught in primary schools, strengthening references to Western influences on Australian history, and boosting phonics learning. Ministers also agreed to teacher training changes to make sure all educators are well-prepared to teach phonics. But it will be up to each state and territory how and when to integrate the national curriculum into their individual syllabuses. New South Wales, for example, has indicated it won’t be making changes immediately, curriculum expert Stewart Riddle says. The State Government released a new guide earlier this month, which Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said gave every NSW teacher the tools to teach students to read using phonics. “We have a really diverse range of approaches that are going on and some of them don’t work as well as others,” Riddle, from the University of Southern Queensland, said. He advocates a balanced approach to teaching reading, where phonics is combined with understanding how words are formed, syntax and grammar.

What is phonics? • “Phonics” covers a range of methods for teaching reading by looking at the sounds that make up words • Broadly speaking, it can be divided into synthetic or analytic phonics • Currently, there is more emphasis in national curriculum on synthetic phonics • Synthetic phonics is construction of words – first you learn the sounds of letters and groupings of letters then recognise these in words and build them up • Analytic phonics focuses on the deconstruction of words by recognising sounds within them.










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australian Teacher • November 2015



Caption competition

Last month’s caption winner

An insider’s view of teaching

Excess process in need of overhaul INXS. Not the iconic Australian rock band, but the words no teacher ever wants to hear. Summoned to the principal’s office to hear the words, “sorry, but you have been declared IN EXCESS”. This is followed by the full range of emotions one would expect when given this message. Especially so if a teacher has been in the same school for many years. One of the most morale sucking issues a school can face is declining enrolments, and as a consequence, staff members being declared in excess of entitlement. In the weeks prior to the big announcement all are looking over their shoulders, wondering who it might be, offering suggestions as to who it should be, dropping subtle hints and the like. There is a general feeling of unease and uncertainty, and a sense of despondency pervades the staff room. Once the decision has been made the process kicks in. Teachers in excess have a time period in which to find employment at another school, if unsuccessful they are simply declared redundant by the department and paid out. Cold, heartless, and devoid of any empathy for the person on the receiving end. True, teachers in this situation are guaranteed interviews when they apply for positions, but this is cold comfort. Many schools make the assumption that if someone has been declared in excess they must be under-performing. This is not the case, schools declare staff as being in excess based on many factors. I’ve never been declared in excess, but I have worked in rural schools which were closed in the Kennett era in Victoria, forcing me to move on. I have also witnessed many teachers, all capable and dedicated, be declared in excess to entitlement. It is a gut-wrenching and draining process. I have witnessed teachers almost at the end of long and distinguished careers, loved by students, yet declared in excess, often after serving many years in the same school. Some move on and are fortunate enough to find work elsewhere. Others hit rock bottom. What happens to these teachers in the long term? What is the impact on their mental health? Do the state education departments have any ongoing duty of care to those placed in this situation? I think there is a level of responsibility and the process is flawed. At the very least, it is time to review this process to better care for education’s greatest assets, teachers.

And the winner is ... Carolyn for this:

“Gee, I wonder if he knows about all those knives in his back?” The best of the rest: “The WORST part of being Tony’s minion is carrying last week’s policy statements for him when we’ve run out of loo paper!” - Brendan

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hands over a compact disc to former Education Minister Christopher Pyne (right) during question time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House. What could the disc contain and what are the pollies thinking? Come up with a funny caption and you will be in the running to win the DVD prize pack which contains: season 3 of Australian television drama series Wentworth and season 2 of the BBC adventure series, Atlantis. Email your entry to This month’s competition closes on November 19.

“Struth Tony! You could have waited until you got outside before you let off that stink. That’s a ripper - no wonder you’re looking smug!” Simon Barter “Gonski!” - Mike Devine “Comedy and tragedy” - M.Gray

Web (Comments) Stamping out DV starts at school: Premier

Louise McCuaig Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of reacting to all the challenging health and wellbeing related issues that are placed at the foot of schools and their teachers, curriculum time and teacher training was provided to ensure that the beautiful health education things in the HPE syllabus were actually delivered? A comprehensive, cohesive and strengths-based approach would have a much better chance of building young people’s healthy and safe living “resource backpack”.

A lack of knowledge of Autism makes for a very difficult teaching placement Vanessa McComb Hi Eli, thank you for sharing your teaching experience and understanding of the current rise of diagnosed autistic children. Absolutely this is a growing concern, for the families and also the teachers who have not received the necessary training and support to be able to fully support the child. I agree that courses need to be modified to support teachers of the future but also current teachers who lack the skills and understanding on how to deal with the differing behaviours that an autistic child may present with. You make an important point ‘remember that children have the right to an education that is suitable to their individual needs. Lastly,

Twitter (Tweets) @PamMRyan: EducationHQ - Ryan book food for thought http://www.educationhq. … Thanks to Australian Teacher Magazine for the support @EducationHQ_AU @CurricLeader: We’re in need of a stronger mandate for Intercultural Understanding, via @EducationHQ_AU #AussieED #ozteachers @Kurunjang_SC: Great article in the @ EducationHQ_AU about the @fya_org #$20boss initiative. Read more at http:// students-mixing-it-with-business/ … @VUAustralia: Nearly 1 in 3 teachers so unhappy they consider leaving jobs in first 5 yrs. the-emotional-workload-of-teachers-istoo-often-ignored-48013 … @EducationHQ_AU via @ConversationEDU @RenukaRajadurai: We need a stronger mandate for intercultural understanding: @ EducationHQ_AU @Kathe_Kirby @EducationHQ_AU: Junk food advertising on bus shelters near some Adelaide schools could be banned if one councillor has his way. http://au.educationhq. com/news/32826/ban-junk-food-adsnear-schools-sa-council/ … @hsnACT: Sounds Fair!

and arguably the most valuable lesson that I learnt, a child that is autistic has, through no fault of their own, a learning or social engagement difficulty that may hinder their development and we should not burden them with situations they cannot control’. We are absolutely responsible for giving an autistic child (or any child for that matter) the best possible support throughout their education and if teachers aren’t trained in how to do deal with specific behaviours, then this falls quite heavily back on the education system and highlights the lack of regard in considering the whole...

Why phonetic spelling isn’t effective

NJH Phonetic spelling as described here is being attacked as a straw-man as has been highlighted in previous comments, above. There are quite a few (international) languages that have even greater dialectical variety than English (see: German, Spanish and Italian) that have successfully modernised themselves. It is not how the words are pronounced that is the problem with English it is irregular spelling or lack of rule orderliness in the orthography that makes it difficult for learners. For example, take the double consonant rule which is followed only 50% of the time: ferry, berry, merry but then we write very; common but comic; salad but ballad etc,. If we were to write according to the rule “verry”, “sallad” and “commic” it would make pronuncia-

tion more certain and there would be fewer obstacle to literacy. One has to look into the mists of ancient history to come up with a rationalisation for why bad spelling has become ensconced as standard but, when it comes to a remedy to our irregular spelling, dialectical variation is not the problem that this writer makes it out to be.

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Angela Andrews Great list, Samantha ! I also wanted to let you and your readers know about Cool Australia, a NFP that provides FREE to access curriculum resources and teaching materials to support the integration of sustainability into Australian classrooms. We have over 700 lesson plans on our website, catering for a wide range of subject areas from early learning to Year 10. All materials are aligned to the Australian Curriculum and the Early Years Learning Framework and can be downloaded as PDFs or shared electronically with students. We also have an extensive online digital library including videos, images and infographics, as well as a heap of practical “How To” Guides...

HSC exams to start in NSW

Reggie Walsh Year 12 exams are such a stressful time for students and teachers. I wish the class of 2015 all the best – but I know I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.

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“This is something that people are really taking seriously.” - Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says stamping out domestic violence and education about respectful relationships begins in school.

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australian Teacher • November 2015


the hard word

Christopher Pyne’s failures as Federal Education Minister

Keith Heggart, PhD student, University of Technology, Sydney and organiser, Independent Education Union THERE will be few teachers or principals who are sad to see the back of Christopher Pyne as Federal Minister for Education. Much like the rest of the Abbott Government, Pyne’s time in charge of education in Australia has been characterised by ideologically-driven approaches, sudden backflips, changes in policy and poorly communicated

thought bubbles. There’s not space in this column to list Pyne’s failures, but there are a few that are particularly worthy of mention. Let’s take his review into the Australian Curriculum for a start. Despite agreement on the content and implementation of the Australian Curriculum from state education ministers in 2009 and again in 2012, one of Pyne’s first actions as minister was to announce a review into the curriculum – even though the national curriculum was yet to be implemented in all subjects across Australia. This review was blatantly partisan – one of the two reviewers was former Liberal Party staffer and failed candidate Kevin Donnelly – and sought to reinstate supposed “Judeo-Christian values” as well as return to the “basics” of reading, writing and numeracy. There was no evidence that such an approach was needed – and it blatantly ignored modern approaches to teaching and learning for old-fashioned pedagogies. The final report was a muddle, with

Donnelly and the other reviewer, Ken Wiltshire, apparently disagreeing over the changes that should be made to the subjects taught in primary school. In New South Wales, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has slammed the review, saying that he is in no rush to adopt the changes. That’s not all that Pyne was responsible for in his time as education minister. There was also the interminable debate about university fee deregulation. Pyne wanted to reform the tertiary sector and his approach was to allow universities to uncap fees; meaning they would be able to charge what they wanted for degrees, causing some to suggest that courses could cost more than $100,000. Most university leaders were in favour of this idea, but fortunately, the Senate intervened, and sent the legislation back to the lower house on two separate occasions. Despite this slap in the face, Pyne insisted that the legislation would get through, claiming, in a bizarre interview,

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his total lack of experience in educational matters, he made a number of unilateral decisions about pedagogy. For example, he supported the idea of direct instruction, despite a lack of evidence that it improves student learning. In fact, it actively works against engagement, which is central to improving outcomes. Pyne continued to push the high stakes testing agenda, even bringing it online, despite concerns about the effect of that standardised testing, and he also advocated for more independence of public schools – again, in the face of evidence that argues such approaches are not necessarily linked to improved student outcomes. I haven’t mentioned Pyne’s ongoing support for school chaplains, nor the simplistic approach of insisting on numeracy and literacy testing for teachers to improve quality or the politicisation of the AITSL board. There are too many failures to describe. I, like many other educators, say this to the former education minister: good riddance.


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that he was a ‘fixer’. The evidence would suggest otherwise. And then there’s Gonski. This review into school funding arrangements, undertaken during the previous government’s term, sought to establish an equitable approach to funding based on need. Before the 2013 federal election, both Abbott and Pyne claimed that there was a ‘unity ticket’ between the Labor party and the Coalition on the matter of funding. No sooner had the Coalition been elected that Pyne announced changes to the proposed funding models, which effectively constituted a cut to school funding. In particular, Pyne tied the increases in school funding to CPI, as opposed to the original plan which was significantly above that. Even worse, Pyne abandoned the final two years of the plan, where much of the federal funding was committed. Some unity ticket. Pyne wasn’t just content to meddle in school funding arrangements. Instead, despite


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November 2015 • australian Teacher


the hard word

Why cooking is one of the most vital skills kids can learn people continue to struggle with what to do about the issue. And there is no question that the issue needs to be addressed. While the convenience culture prevails, our kids are eating fewer home cooked meals and more salt and sugar dense takeaway food. Eating junk food all the time means their concentration plummets and their wellbeing deteriorates – these aren’t good conditions for learning. But there are solutions. Diet-related disease is now Australia’s number one killer; responsible for 25 per cent of all deaths. Doing nothing is unforgivable. More and more adults are Elise Bennetts, acting CEO, living time poor lives and Jamie’s Ministry of Food and suffering from issues related to The Good Foundation being overweight so kids don’t always learn basic cooking and WE have a huge problem on our nutrition skills at home. hands when it comes to the It’s up to us to help instil future health of Australians. healthy habits early in life which Diet-related disease is at an they can use well into what we all-time high and while there hope will be a ripe old are manyWDF12815_BlueChair_QuarterpageA6_FA01.pdf discussions around 2 age. 8/04/2015 That’s why we’re delivering how we got to this dire position,

Jamie Oliver’s Learn Your Fruit and Veg program into Australian primary schools. I believe that cooking is one of the most important skills you can learn and one that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to start teaching kids about food, where it comes from and how it affects their bodies, from the earliest age possible. Encouraging children to learn through cooking is fun and gets them excited about food. As a teacher, and perhaps a parent too, I’m sure you’ll agree that children will constantly surprise you in the way they learn and view the world. I know that I’m amazed every single day when I look at my own children and watch them navigate through the loads of information that fill their school days. I also understand how difficult it can be to get kids to eat the things they should, or to predict what 2:59they pm will or will not like from one week to the next.

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australian Teacher • November 2015

Reader contribution

Encountering autism on teaching placement ELI COHN This contribution was published in the EducationHQ Community. RECENTLY I completed a onemonth teaching placement in a lower-primary classroom setting that had several students whom required additional support. Prior to my teaching experience, I had not come into contact with students in a classroom environment that required additional support. To pre-service teachers’ detriment, or more importantly, the students’ detriment, the standard undergraduate teacher training course for primary school teachers does not provide sufficient training to work alongside students that have additional needs. In my personal circumstance, my understanding of how to provide individualised teaching for children with autism did not occur before my professional placement and was not thorough enough to cover the entire autism spectrum. I was ill-prepared to provide differentiation within the classroom and, as a result, had to conduct my own research into the suggested methods for teaching students who had been diagnosed with autism. This is a major oversight. The Grade 2 classroom I was placed in for my placement

had four students with diagnosed autism, and one that the classroom teacher believed to have autism that hadn’t been officially diagnosed. This school was not a special school, but rather a mainstream public primary school. This indicates that of the 25 students in the classroom, 20 per cent of them required additional support with their learning. During my teaching placement, my mentor teacher was an invaluable resource of whom I cannot speak of highly enough. In my first few weeks of the placement, my mentor teacher spent a lot of time explaining and modelling teacher differentiation. I quickly realised however, that one partic-

ular method would not suit all diagnosed students and I had to adapt my teaching strategies to provide for this. This was an extremely challenging task for me, as a second year education student with no prior knowledge of autism or how to engage students with autism. The school I conducted my placement at was fortunate enough to have a fully funded teacher aide in the classroom to provide one-on-one support to a student who had both a physical disability and was diagnosed with autism. Additional support for the other students who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder was not available and was

consequently left in the hands of the classroom teacher to manage. The increase in the number of children with autism demands that teachers are more effectively trained to cope with the increasing numbers. My mentor teacher had not undertaken postgraduate study, however she had undertaken a one-day professional development session around teaching autistic children. Furthermore, she said that in the previous twoyears she had only one student with autism and this year, she was suddenly faced with the aforementioned increase of autistic students. In one of our discussions, she mentioned that she would have benefited from learning more about the learning difficulties that primary school aged students have. Looking from both sides, the theory taught at universities provided me with a base knowledge into autism, however, due to the very nature of teaching being hands-on and interactive, no amount of theoretical knowledge can ever be as valuable as the practical learning gained from teaching placement. My placement taught me several key points. Firstly, be prepared to face a diverse variety of students with needs and requirements.

There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ child, so don’t assume that what works for one child will work for the other child. Secondly, use the other serving teachers as a network – their experience, tips and hints are invaluable. Thirdly, remember that all children have the right to an education that is suitable to their individual needs. Lastly, and arguably the most valuable lesson, is that a child with autism has through no fault of their own, a learning or social engagement difficulty that may hinder their development and we should not burden them with situations they cannot control. I believe teaching students would greatly benefit from more in-depth training at university into areas of special needs education, such as autism. more by eli cohn

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coverstory australian Teacher • November 2015

It’s time relief teachers received the support they deserve By Sarah Duggan

STUDIES indicate that over the course of a student’s schooling, approximately one year will be spent in the company of a relief teacher. As the human cogs in our educational system – a system that would otherwise fray to pieces – relief teachers face a unique set of daily challenges. From being thrust into unknown classes, dismissed by their tenured colleagues or forced to source and fund their own professional development, it seems the nation’s relief teaching cohort have largely been relegated to the margins of the education community.

The reality of relief teaching When Ralph Lunay decided to cut his losses and become a relief teacher, he had no idea what he was in for. From one school day to the next, he would wake not knowing where he would be working, what year level would be in his charge – or indeed, if he would be employed at all. Now a lecturer with the School of Education at Curtin University in Western Australia, Lunay can reflect with the clarity of hindsight on the largely unspoken lot of a relief teacher. ‘Unpredictability’, he says, cuts to the heart of the experience. “Very often teachers will just ring up sick in the morning and then there’s a mad rush on to find a relief teacher, so they’ll either ring a teaching agency if they’re signed up ... or if a relief teacher is lucky enough to have worked there before, they’ll give the relief teacher a ring and cross their fingers and hope like hell that that relief teacher hasn’t got a job somewhere else,” he says. Lunay says when the phone rings, you really have no idea what to expect. “It could be in any school or in any class, and it could even be for only half a day, or sometimes a full day, or might be ‘hey look, can you do it for a week?’ So it’s very, very difficult to plan anything as a relief teacher.”

The hidden profession From delivering the science curriculum to Year 12s, to guiding Grade 5s through the finer points of belly dancing, professional life for one in five Australian educators is a decidedly erratic and haphazard affair. And as it turns out, it’s a largely undocumented area of education as well. While much academic interest has been devoted to unearthing the extent of tenured educators’ satisfaction with their job, very little of this focus is on substitute teachers. While the reasons for this remain open

to speculation, Lunay says it is mostly a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’; if holes are plugged and classes are covered, then who really has the time to consider whether relief staff are fulfilled professionally? Lunay, for one, was determined to begin fleshing out this black hole in research, and so back in 2005/2006 he carried out a small qualitative study with colleague Graeme Lock. Their report, Alienation among relief teachers servicing government metropolitan primary schools showed conclusively that fervent feelings of alienation (which manifested in a sense of powerlessness, isolation and meaninglessness), existed within the sample of primary relief teachers. Although relatively small in its scope, the study revealed the gnawing sense of isolation that seems to plague many relief teachers in their day-to-day roles. Most interestingly, these strong feelings of alienation were always expressed as being relative to other permanent colleagues. Lunay says his participants cited a range of contributing problems, including ‘systemic’ issues that were imbedded in both the schools they serviced and the broader education system itself. “Ninety five per cent of my 20 cohort felt various levels of alienation and I would suspect that a larger study would show exactly the same thing,” he shares.

The great divide The professional divide which seems to separate substitute teachers and their tenured counterparts is something that relief teacher Bob Brandis has experienced from both sides of the fence. An ex-principal, Brandis admits that it’s easy to overlook relief staff amid the day-to-day pressures of running a school. “As a relief teacher in schools other than my own, I came to recognise that they weren’t a really well supported group of professional people. I have to throw myself out here, too; I didn’t really support my relief teachers in my school when I was principal,” Brandis concedes. Lunay too felt undervalued and underappreciated at times throughout his fouryear stint in relief teaching. “You are almost seen as a student teacher on prac,” he recalls. “It’s pretty bloody dreadful, you know, you are a professional. You have the lives of 30 kids in your hands and their education for at least the day.” The fact that students, teachers and school administrators might not regard their substitute staff as full professionals who are expected to deliver the same calibre of educational instruction as permanent teachers is a concerning one, and certainly a theme that is echoed in much of the (albeit scant) research in the area. “In some of the articles I reviewed, [relief teachers] were referred to as ‘warm bodies with a beating heart’, ‘child-minder’ and ‘that dopey bastard down the corridor there that can’t get a full-time job’ – the usual sort of stuff,” Lunay says.

Who would want to be a relief teacher? Contrary to such demoralising perceptions, Australia’s relief teaching cohort is made up of a wide variety of educators who bring to the job a diverse and unique skill set. Lunay’s research, for instance, indicates that the profession is not simply dominated by young teacher graduates who are struggling to lock down full-time employment, as the widespread assumption seems to suggest. “A number of them were quite mature and very, very experienced. There are relief teachers out there who are relief teachers by choice and those are the teachers that really need to be nurtured as well...” he says. Brandis certainly fits into this cohort, and now works to provide support to other relief teachers who might be struggling to maintain a sense of their own professional identity. His blog,, dishes up practical advice, strategies and resources to teachers who might feel adrift in a system that views them as little more than a professional band-aid. Brandis says that many relief teachers face the difficult position of not knowing where exactly they fit in the educational system. “Education departments don’t offer much support for relief teachers and schools very seldom consider relief teachers as a part of their staff,” he says.

Establishing connections Given the iterant demands of relief teaching, it’s understandable that building strong relationships with staff and students might be tricky. In an ideal world, a relief teacher might opt to limit him or herself to a select few schools, but in reality, many must spread themselves around to maximise their opportunities for paid work. “Some relief teachers are attached to agencies and the agencies treat them as a number and the number plugs in a hole in a vacancy, in a school. They could be servicing 20-30 schools and never get the opportunity to develop a professional link with a school,” Brandis notes. However, the importance of building workplace connections cannot be underestimated. “I know in my last school we relied on half-a-dozen relief teachers who only came to our school, so number one they have a professional identity with the kids in the classrooms – these are the teachers that seldom have behavioural problems because the kids see them as a legitimate presence in their school,” Brandis says.

Classroom demands There is no doubt that relief teaching comes with its own set of in-classroom challenges. Delivering a lesson to an often unknown group of students, on a topic that might offer little in the way of familiarity, is just one potentially unnerving aspect of a job that demands multiple hats be donned throughout the school day. Without the luxury of forward planning, Lunay says relief staff must rely solely on their own teaching strategies and hope that they are provided with a detailed list of instructions in order to competently run a class. “Relief teaching could almost be seen as the purest form of teaching, where you have to front a class that you know nothing about and you somehow have to, by the end of the day, transmit information, and that’s tough,” he says. Managing students who might be out to take advantage of the ‘unsuspecting’ relief teacher is another hurdle to overcome. Brandis says this often results in a stilted delivery of lessons as ill-equipped and illinformed relief teachers try to maintain classroom control. “I’m sorry to say but a lot of relief teachers do sit at the teachers desk, give the kids the work and expect that to happen ... they cause so much drama in the class, but then they don’t have an understanding of the strategies that they should employ,” Brandis, who has built up his own repertoire of pointers for those wondering where they might be going wrong, says. “Relief teachers get themselves in trouble when they develop their lessons along the behavioural management lines, so that the kids are quiet or placid or easily managed, and they forget that there really has to be a time to consolidate learning. As soon as relief teachers develop that ethos they find themselves servicing the class better,” he reflects. Coming armed with a solid bank of resources and basic lesson plans that can be easily applied to a range of classroom situations is a must, as is immediately taking charge of the learning happening under your care, he adds. “The biggest strategy I say is that teachers have to be authentic, they have to go into a classroom and ... be responsible for doing something real during that time.”

The professional development minefield Just as tenured teachers are required to be competent, skilled and qualified to teach in accordance with the national curriculum, so too must relief teachers. Yet despite having to meet the same PD requirements to maintain their accredita-

coverstory 27

November 2015 • australian Teacher

Top 5 things to improve your relief teaching day — according to Bob Brandis

1 Ralph Lunay Lecturer, Curtin University, WA

Bob Brandis Relief teacher, QLD

Marino D’Ortenzio Deputy vice president, AEU Victoria

Keep your teaching authentic. Focus on achieving quality learning

2 You are almost running around like your own little small business, so that can be very demoralising.

As a relief teacher in schools other than my own, I came to recognise that they weren’t a really well supported group...

Some relief teachers will source PD themselves and unfortunately they’ll pay for it...

Of relief teachers servicing WA primary schools:







E x p er i en c ed

Expe ri e nc e d

E xp e ri e nc e d




T h i s was cau s e d by: Specific in-class challenges: 75% negative classroom experience 50% behaviour management issues 50% lack of resources/planning 15% lack of teaching information

Relationship issues/negative attitudes 75% negative relationship with tenured staff/educational stakeholders 70% educational community 65% tenured staff 10% placement agencies

Equity with tenured colleagues 30% inadequate access to PD 60% broken employment/pay 10% given play duty 35% no DOTT

Lunay, R. G. & Lock, G. (2006). Alienation among relief teachers servicing government metropolitan primary schools.

tion, relief teachers are often left to their own devices to source and fund their learning opportunities. Marino D’Ortenzio, deputy vice president (Secondary Sector) of the Australian Education Union Victorian Branch is calling upon the state’s education department to rectify this situation. “Some relief teachers will source PD themselves and unfortunately pay for it themselves, despite not being paid very much,” he begins. “The ball is in the department’s court, they have an obligation as the employer, in my view, to make sure that their workforce is competent and up-to-date and their knowledge is pedagogically sound. “They are indicating that they would like to roll out another program for PD for CRTs and I applaud that, but I don’t think that goes far enough.” D’Ortenzio believes that changing the culture within schools will go a long way towards boosting the whole professional experience for relief staff. “I think what they also need to do is actually very strongly communicate with

schools to say that these CRTs are actually part of your workforce as well, and you should explicitly invite them and include them in planning, in student-free days, in staff meetings, in the PD that you do at your school,” he shares. Lunay agrees that a lack of access to relevant and ongoing PD underscores much of the professional isolation felt by relief teachers. “You are almost running around like your own little small business, so that can be very demoralising,” he says. Both say it is in the best interests of schools to ensure that their relief teaching staff are kept up-to-date with relevant and ongoing PD. “I suppose I would just be imploring educational authorities and principals and administration to just think about how much time is devoted to a child’s education by a relief teacher, that PD is in the ultimate interest of the child. “If the kids are losing up to 12 months of normal classes then the teaching and the quality and the consistency has to be as close to that normal teacher as possible,” Lunay says.

The way forward While truly changing any sort of cultural attitude on a grand scale takes time, there are a number of simple and cost-effective strategies that schools can look at implementing to better support and include relief staff immediately. Lunay says feelings of alienation can be easily alleviated if school leadership commit to implementing a number of ‘common-sense’ support policies. These include; establishing ongoing buddy systems between relief and tenured staff; hosting regular professional ‘meet and greet’ sessions; keeping up-to date ‘survival packs’ ready for relief staff; and introducing a plan-ahead policy, whereby all teachers document their lesson plans at least one day in advance. Lunay says another approach moving forward, is to have mandatory rostering of permanent teachers into the relief pool for a week or so every few years. “But you have about as much chance of that happening as you do snow falling,” Lunay muses.

Build a repertoire of behaviour management strategies

3 Connect with school staff – they will be your greatest support

4 Have a bank of high quality lessons applicable to a range of year levels. Don’t accept poor lessons that may be left by the class teacher

5 Start a quality learning activity as soon as you enter the room

Top 4 recommendations for schools — according to Ralph Lunay

1 Establish ‘survival packs’ for relief teachers to refer to in the classroom and around the school

2 Initiate professional ‘meet and greet’ procedures with each new teacher

3 Build buddy systems between relief and tenured staff

4 Maintain a policy of forwardplanning for all classes

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pe & outdoor ed. classroom projects


curriculum ideas

chelsea attard WATCHING Kindergarteners roll down hills, get sticky with tree sap, swing on vines and build their own (imaginary) campfires is just part of an average day for teachers at Suncoast Little Learners Early Learning Centre. The centre, which operates as part of Suncoast Christian College in Queensland, has introduced Bush Kindy this term, where students will spend a dedicated three hours per week exploring the magic of the great outdoors. Staff at the centre were inspired upon hearing about forest schools in Scotland from visiting educational consultant Niki Buchan, so they decided to give their very own Bush School a whirl. “We have a bush chapel on our campus, and we took the kids there, just for morning tea or for lunch, and we saw, ‘wow the kids are really, really enjoying the bush setting so much’,” Kindergarten teacher and Little Learners director Fernanda Skinner says. “So we decided to, instead of going just going for half an hour for morning tea, to make it a little bit longer so we stay for an hour, and then we started looking into the bush and beach curriculums,” she adds. Skinner says to begin with, some children were comfortable in the outdoor surroundings, while others were a little more reluctant and asking after 15 minutes when they might go back to class. “And those same children then later, when they saw how much fun there is, how many things to discover, they just wanted to go back,” Skinner says. “Especially when they discovered the sap coming out of the Eucalyptus trees, and then it crystallises ... that fascinated them. “There’s a lot of social play happening, imagination, you know they pretend one is mum, one is dad and they’re sitting around the campfire and they’re cooking,” she adds. Skinner says sticks are a popular new toy for the boys especially, a

special report November May 20122015

Suncoast Little Learners Early Learning Centre has introduced Bush Kindy this term.

kids’ Bush kindy bliss diverse tool that can be used as an intrepid explorer’s accessory, a sword, a building block, a giant pencil or a shovel. And a steep hill on the site beats any colourful play equipment. “They run up the hill and then they roll down,” Skinner says. “[There are] vines coming out of the trees as well, there’s one thick one and they’ll go and swing on it, and they just discover as they go.” With the obvious risks surrounding bush play, Skinner says the biggest step for staff was to conduct a risk assessment. “Because there’s snakes, there’s spiders, it’s slippery, there’s loose branches, but we got all of that information from between Niki and

some Western Australian Kindergartens who are already doing it. “They have a website and there’s Facebook page groups. There’s more and more Kindergarten teachers who are actually doing it, and we just did a lot of research online, put our risk assessment together and just started doing it,” Skinner says. Amazingly, the youngsters, most aged between three and five, have taken their new sense of responsibility in their tiny strides. “If we explain the possibilities of danger to them, they’re so aware of it,” Skinner says. “When we go there, they remind us and they remind each other, ‘remember don’t roll the rocks

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over, there might be a snake or a spider underneath’. “When you show that you trust them, they actually know what they can do and not do.” All risks aside, Skinner says parents have been very supportive. While still in its early stages, Skinner says Bush Kindy really is working a treat with all of her students. “Children that are usually a challenge here in the classroom, when we take them there, they just have that freedom and they just have fun and socially their behaviour is so good, because they’re just so happy in nature.” And while fun is a central element in the new venture, Skinner

says there’s also plenty of valuable learning experiences of which to take advantage. “Whatever they discover – so it might be a little spider, a gecko, it can be the shape, the colour of the leaves, just little holes in the ground, sap from the tree, we bring those things back to the classroom and extend their learning again from there,” she explains. “We can look at shapes, we can use it in painting, or we go to YouTube and see what we can find, like the sounds of the birds, they have a lot of Kookaburras and [Eastern Whipbirds], so we listen and then we come back and extend their learning even further.”

pe & outdoor education 30 INBRIEF A kayaking expedition to remember australian Teacher • November 2015

Murray river

Greenvale stands tall

MELBOURNE - Congratulations have been offered to the 28 Year 4, 5 and 6 students at Greenvale Primary School who’ve competed at the Woodlands Division Athletics at the Meadownglen International Athletics Track in Epping. The school newsletter says over a third of entries from Greenvale PS have sucessfully advanced through to the Northern Metro Region Championships.

Up for vertical jump TWEED HEADS - Students in Early Stage 1 at Tweed Heads South Public School have been busy learning all about the ‘vertical jump’. The school newsletter says the kids enjoyed the activity ‘lily pad’ where they were each given a hoop (lily pad) and they had to perform a vertical jump to catch a ‘flying bug’ then rotate to the next hoop.

Kalgan River hike fun ALBANY - Year 10 outdoor education students at St Joseph’s College, Albany, have returned from their hike through the Kalgan River. The school newsletter says it was both a physical and mental challenge for the intrepid teenagers, who experienced rain, hail and strong winds during their time there. “Even so, the team still turned up with smiles and a look of determination,� it reads. Email briefs to

Rebecca Vukovic THE three-day kayaking expedition in the Murray River National Park for Stage 1 students at Ocean View P-12 College in Adelaide was as much about testing their personal resilience as it was about their time on the water. As part of the school’s outdoor education program, which has been running for nine years now, the Year 10 and 11 students travel to Katarapko Creek to take part in activities focusing on leadership, patience and working as a team. Their teacher, Jarrod Smith, says the activities allow the students to learn a lot about themselves along the way. “The key points that we want to emphasise are personal growth and development. Often students on these camps learn a lot about themselves, develop patience and understanding by working with others, cooking their meals and things like that,� he says. “There’s a lot of resilience that shows in the students, having to spend a night in the wilderness in a tent with no electricity. No internet coverage, is something that the students take away. They often reflect on not having their phones and how they thought they would hate it but they actu-

Ocean View P-12 College Stage 1 students kayaking on Katarapko Creek. ally really enjoy getting away from all the extra stimulus that mobile phones put on them.� During the camp, Smith says the teachers also try to promote leadership in students. “We give them opportunities to lead the group for half a day and we also see a lot of leadership qualities in individuals who don’t really show a lot around school,� he shares. “So it’s really pleasing to see that and we try to focus on pushing those ... skills so they can maybe one day be leaders around the school or in the community.� Throughout their camp experience, the students are also afforded a lot of responsibility, and it

starts the minute they turn up at school to board the bus. The students pack the bus and organise the appropriate equipment required, before setting up the camp once they arrive. “They’re required to set their tents up, choose a site, basically all the hard skills like cooking their own food for the night, cooking their own breakfast, making their own lunch. They’re expected to do almost everything around the campsite,� Smith says. “For the on-water stuff like the kayaking skills, we have staff members who go through that with them. “We do almost three full days of

kayaking and we do a distance paddle in the middle day, which is about 20 kilometres. This involves going through a few locks and following the river bends and also a lot of skills work so they’re learning from positive paddling techniques and rescue techniques if they ever need to help anyone.� The expedition also focuses on fostering a respect for the environment and the Indigenous heritage of Katarapko Creek in the students who are there. “We aim to develop minimal impact strategies so that students can look after the environment they are a part of, Smith says. “We often observe that when students have a positive experience in the natural world they are more likely to want to take care of it, so we are always pleased to see students develop a stronger connection with nature on our camps. “For the Katarapko Creek camp we were in Meru country, so we have a welcome to country and some information about the land,� Smith says. “It’s a really good spot because there’s scarred trees and evidence of the Indigenous people making canoes and shields and stuff like that. It’s something that the students really appreciate being able to go out and see.�

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pe & outdoor education 32 australian Teacher • November 2015


women’s AFL

Students and farm animals were hot to trot, walk and waddle for PE day

AFL program kicking goals

IT wasn’t just Menai High School’s students and teachers who took part in National Health and Physical Education Day this year, but even the school’s friendly farm animals got involved in their fun run/walkathon. It was a day organised to encourage students and staff to be physically active and to bring attention to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but it also became an occasion that smashed many of the school’s records as well. In fact, the school community managed to complete 5530 laps of a 500m course totaling 2765kms. This means they walked from Menai High School to Uluru. PDHPE teacher Nikita Ryan says it was great to see all teachers and students from the school get involved in the day, including their furry friends. “Menai High School is a different sort of school in the fact that we have a partnership with the agricultural faculty which resulted in students walking the animals that they were responsible for,” she says. “There were eight sheep, three alpacas, six chickens and four guinea pigs and two goats were all involved in walking laps.” Students were encouraged to set their own goals and use their

AN Australia-first women’s AFL program in Tasmania is proving hugely beneficial for the 32 keen Queechy High School students taking part. The course has also helped assistant principal and HPE teacher Caleb Turale and colleague Adam Davey win this year’s Secondary School AFL School Ambassadors of the Year award for their state. Having run a successful boys’ athlete development program last year, and following seven years of Queechy female team success at a one-off girls’ football gala day, Turale and Davey were keen to harness the interest in the game. “We identified that girl’s AFL was booming and given our success with the boys’ program, we thought that we might have enough interest to run a similar Grade 9 and 10 program with our girls,” Turale says. “Adam returned from long service leave at the start of this year and he was the obvious person to take the girls’ classes.” The course, which runs in Term 1 and 4, involves two 70-minute sessions a week and educates girls on the skills of the game, teamwork, leadership and strategy, as well as administration roles in the game. It’s important, naturally that the

All creatures, great and small, took part in Menai High School’s fun run/ walkathon. smartphones to monitor their progress via GPS. One class set the challenge to walk to space and with the nearest space orbit being 99.78kms away. The class of 11 students set out to walk 200 laps over two periods and managed to complete the task with flying colours. “Everything went really smoothly and everyone had a lot of fun and accepted the challenge, and they also broke the record from last year’s goal that they set as well,” Ryan says. “They set a goal as a school to break the record from last year and they did, which was fantastic.”

course links to the curriculum. “There are three main strands that we focus our assessment on – technical development, the physical preparation, which is your fitness, recovery training and injuries etc, and knowledge acquisition, which is around nutrition, leadership, tactics of the game, analysis and so on. “A fourth component, which is kind of the overriding one, is ‘have fun while you’re there’. Turale says the girls are loving the course and younger students are keen to get on board. “We have a lot of kids from different backgrounds, from low socio-economic to middle class and also from different cultural backgrounds,” he says.

“So it’s also been a great way for those girls to mingle and build relationships that might not have occurred in the past or outside of something structured like this.” Women’s AFL was broadcast live on free-to-air TV in August – and 500,000 viewers tuned in to see the women���s Melbourne Demons defeat a gallant Western Bulldogs outfit by four points. Turale says one of the program’s ambitions is to see a female Queechy student one day be drafted. “We’ve had some girls involved at a state level, but the AFL are saying that by 2020 there could be a semi-professional competition and we’d love to have at least one of our girls involved in that.”

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music in education classroom projects


curriculum ideas

special report November May 20122015

Noteflight - anywhere, anytime Rebecca Vukovic WHILE there will never be anything that quite compares to the tactile response children get from playing a musical instrument, the introduction of technology in the music classroom is allowing students to experiment with sound in a way they never have before. At Penrhos College, an all-girls school in Perth, Year 5 and 6 students have been using a cloudbased music notation software called ‘Noteflight’ to create and notate their own music. Their teacher, junior school music coordinator Jason Kidd, says that of all the notation softwares that are available, he chose Noteflight because it’s completely cloud-based, meaning his students can access their work, wherever they may be.

“Noteflight is really cool because it’s all completely cloud-based, so it just operates within a web page … they can access it anywhere, so even if they go away overseas, they’ve got access to a computer in a hotel or something, they can do some work and submit it which is really handy,” Kidd says. The students in his class have been using the software to work collaboratively on their projects. “With the Year 5s at the moment, they’ve been doing some collaborative composition, they’ve had a couple of known songs and composing rhythmic, repeated patterns with it,” Kidd says. Heading into Term 4, Kidd says his Year 6 students have been focusing on learning more about blues music and are excited to write their own blues songs. “With the Year 6s we’ve been

doing some blues music so they improvised some riffs, some riffs on the blues scale and they’re starting to notate those as well and we’ll eventually compose our own little blues songs. “We can have them written and we can record from there and they can play back stuff that they might not necessarily be able to play themselves. They can then sing their blues lyrics over their own backing track that they’ve created. That’s our long term goal with it.” When his students are working on their computers, Kidd has found they experience a newfound freedom in their willingness to experiment with sound. “I’ve found using computer notation rather than traditional handwriting, they’re a bit more willing to experiment. There’s the creativity that flows a bit better.

“We’ve had some really interesting little patterns being notated and they’ve really pushed themselves a bit more and being able to collaborate together means that the creativity is flowing a bit more because they’re getting ideas from each other and sharing and seeing what each other is doing.” While the benefits of using technology in the music classroom are evident, Kidd says he still prefers to have students jamming on physical instruments whenever possible. “I’m the first to admit that I’m a little bit hesitant because I would prefer to see a kid banging a drum and hitting a xylophone, you get that tactile response. You can put emotion into your playing,” Kidd says. “I heard someone at a conference I went to talk about using it to innovate rather than repli-

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cate, so not just using a tablet because it’s got a drum on it when you’ve got drums in the room but looking at ways to get creative with it.” Kidd says he’s witnessed a lot of growth in his subject over the last few years, and says he’s proud of the program they’ve developed. “There’s just a lot of growth happening especially with the national curriculum pushing the arts out. This school just sees the value of the arts and in particular music as a unique art form which it really is,” Kidd says. “It takes such abstract things and brings them into the concrete which just requires such a deep level of thinking and the brain development that happens out of it is just amazing. “It’s just really exciting to be a part of.”

music in education 36 INBRIEF Spring Music School’s Brisbane birth australian Teacher • November 2015

proving instrumental

Singing is the best way MELBOURNE - Singing is the best way to teach children music, according to one of the creators of a new Federal Government program to improve music education in Australian schools. The $594,000 National Music Teachers Mentorship Pilot Programme will see professional music educators mentor specially chosen classroom teachers across Australia.

Alt music bad for you CANBERRA - The Federal Government has provided new ‘radicalisation awareness kits’ to schools which suggest a link between alternative music and violent extremism and ideological violence. Preventing Violent Extremism And Radicalisation In Australia is a 32-page booklet that can be viewed on the Living Safe Together website:

Great industry insight SYDNEY - The Song Room has released a new music industry-focused course on ARTS:LIVE, the free education resource which is used in more than 6000 Australian schools. Music Industry Insight is a collection of resources and activities featuring some of Australian musicians including Wally De Backer (Gotye) and Clare Bowditch. Email briefs to

THE stunning new performing arts centre at Brisbane’s St Peters Lutheran College has been echoing to the delightful sounds of secondary school instrumentalists from across Queensland. Part of an intensive week-long musical immersion, the Southern Cross Soloists (SXS) Spring Music School, now in its ninth year, has once again delighted participants with its inventive mix of fun and world-class instruction. Tania Frazer, the artistic director of the Southern Cross Soloists, a chamber music ensemble and resident at Queensland Performing Arts Centre, says schools such as this are incredibly important, particularly at this point in a young musician’s career. “Having the right teacher, who can teach you the right skills from the start makes all the difference in the world,” she says. Until this year the school has operated in Rockhampton, but a number of factors have meant the school has relocated to Brisbane. “Although we moved the school, our biggest concern was that we still provided as much access as possible for our regional Queensland students,” Frazer says. Ten of the school’s 70 students, from more remote locations, are each year supported by SunWater

we sing the songs

The SXS Spring Music School offers a wonderful experience for students. Scholarships, which provide half of the tuition costs. “We’ve had SunWater (a bulk water provider) on board now for many years and we’re hoping that we’re going to be able to expand the area of regional scholarships so that we can give more and more opportunities to the students. “I’m an oboe player, and even in Brisbane it was only when I was in late high school that a real oboe teacher came to live in Brisbane and it was so hard to get expert teaching.” The week itself is a hive of activ-

ity, offering a range of experiences and tuition, forging of friendships, building of confidence and fine-tuning of skills. “We have the most amazing residential staff who have been with us almost since the beginning of the school and they get them up at 6am with tubas and piccolos. “They do trust-building games for an hour before breakfast and ... it just gives them such an amazing feeling of cohesion and teambuilding. “So the kids are always really well socialised during the pro-

gram, even the really shy ones don’t feel left out, there’s a really good feeling amongst them.” Following this, the students are separated into their instrumental groupings and then later is a full orchestra rehearsal. “After lunch they have choir and then the other thing I introduced last year was a course called Percussion For All. “Because I teach tertiary oboe, over the years I’d get so frustrated when I’d get a student come along with really terrible rhythm, because by the time they’re 18 it’s almost too late to fix it... “So we have had for the last two years one of the top freelance percussion players in the country come along.” In the afternoon each group of instrumentalists meet with their tutor and then there’s chamber music. Frazer says the school has gone from strength to strength. “The thing about this course [is], most of them are not going to become professional musicians, but I think just doing it, is great for their minds and specific instrument skills, but it’s also really good for team building and socialisation as well as leadership and confidence, especially in terms of performance.”

Universal language

Lunchtime Karaoke Club hitting high notes with staff and students alike

What a wonderful world

THERE are many high school teachers out there who loathe having to listen to yet another 5SOS smash hit, but not Selena Clohessy. Always encouraging her students’ love of music, at lunchtimes the music teacher transforms her classroom into a Karaoke Club, where students of all vocal abilities can experience the joy of belting out their favourite tunes. Clohessy is in her first year at Swan View Senior High School in Perth, and noticed early on a passion many students share. “Basically, there are a lot of kids around the school who really enjoy singing, and they’ve been walking around the school singing with their friends,” she tells Australian Teacher Magazine. And so after digging up a few old karaoke DVDs in the music room, and linking up her laptop to a projector to facilitate the use of YouTube clips, Karaoke Club got off to a nervously hesitant start. “In the first session no-one was willing to sing, whereas now we don’t always have enough time to get through everyone in one session,” Clohessy says. “It’s very rewarding to see the students comfortable performing for their peers.” The teacher says 5SOS are the flavour of the moment, but surprisingly many students also enjoy singing classics, such as Queen songs. One benefit of the club is it has

Sarah duggan

Swan View SHS has a Karaoke Club. attracted some unfamiliar faces, students Clohessy hasn’t taught before in her music classes, and even teachers are getting in on the action. “[It’s] been a great way to build relationships with the kids. “I also feel really lucky to work at Swan View where the staff are incredibly supportive of the music program and make it easy to open up new opportunities for the students. “This flexibility allows students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to engage with music to explore their individual areas of interest,” she says.

IN what only can be described as a musical extravaganza of global proportions, the students of Clarence Town Public School have recently used the power of music to transport their audience around the world. Peppered with an array of traditional songs and dances from foreign places, guests who experienced the schools’ What a Wonderful World production were taken from China to Madagascar and Ukraine, as the young performers thrust themselves into (copyright free!) musical numbers enriched with culture and meaning. Principal Louise Blakemore says the 80-minute musical festivity was all about connecting the children with other cultures in a meaningful way. “It was also just to give the kids a global image of the world. I guess the best way [to describe] it, is it’s a creative way of exploring, because the kids are quite often bombarded with facts and figures, especially now with the internet and they don’t often get a chance to explore,” she says. “They’re kind of confronted with pictures or images or information, where the music actually gives them a creative [outlet] where they can kind of explore the country in a more creative way and almost where they can ... develop a rapport with the country and the people of the country.

Music has connected K-6 students with people from across the globe. “So it gives them, I think, as close as you can possibly get if you are not there, another image or scent of the country beside hard and cold facts and figures,” she says. In addition to giving a human edge to their cultural studies, the educator says music is a great avenue to build confidence in youngsters. Indeed having all 129 students up on stage – regardless of their musical talent – gave each performer the chance to shine in their own right.

“We have a few quite gifted kids with regards to singing and dance ... but what the other kids lacked in gift they made up for in enthusiasm, they were just so excited. “They could contribute, they felt that they were a performer; they felt that they were a dancer or singer or whatever they were doing,” Blakemore shares. The K-6 students worked with a specialist music tutor one day a week for two terms, in addition to their regular music classes.



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space cadets on board chelsea attard SETTING up a special space centre in her classroom may have been one small step for K/P teacher Kristy Moloney, but it’s resulted in one giant learning leap for her students. Moloney teaches at Perth’s Newton Primary School, and has a penchant for transforming parts of her classroom into different settings. “I’ve had a giant fairytale castle I painted, it had a drawbridge going into it, which [the students] loved. They cried when it was packed away. “I’ve had a beach, I’ve had a hospital, I just find it’s a really nice area where they can go, it’s selfdirected play, and it’s relating to their interests,” Moloney says. Her latest creation, a special space centre, features a rocket

tent, space suits (coveralls from Bunnings), safety goggles, giant gloves, calculators, phones, computer screens and keyboards, and books about space. Only four students at a time are allowed to set off on important learning missions in the centre. “The things that they come up with in that area are just mindblowing,” Moloney says. “They get stuck into playing with old computers and old phones, things that aren’t even working, and the oral language that I’m hearing them use, is just brilliant. “There’s some really detailed conversations going on about who’s going where, and who they’re going with, and ships blasting off. I’m hearing kids counting backwards...” she explains. Students are also developing social skills, such as taking turns,

working together, and helping each other in and out of their space suits, a task which Moloney purposely refuses to assist with. Some of the resources for the centre have come from Moloney’s trusty box of space resources she has built up over the years, and others have been kindly donated. “I just put a call out to parents for what they had available to donate, and it took a little while but slowly bits and pieces started to come through. “When they see what a great time their kids are having and how much their kids love it, then they’re quite willing to help us,” Moloney says. The idea for the space centre, as well as the other tiny worlds Moloney creates, come from her passion for linking play, creativity and the curriculum. “So many early years teachers

are feeling the ‘push down’ of the curriculum into ECE, [but] it can be done without constant worksheets for these gorgeous ones,” Moloney says. Moloney says her approach to teaching is very integrated, very hands-on and creative. The space theme in her classroom crosses over into literacy, numeracy, and, of course, science. “I go to great effort to make my program play-based, developmentally appropriate and centred on student interests – we still meet the Australian Curriculum outcomes, work with the Kindergarten Curriculum and Early Years learning framework,” she says. “My theory is that these kids should love coming to school, the program should be exciting and engaging (and they are there knocking at the door each morning).”

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November 2015 • australian Teacher

top of the class

Quantum leap for science teacher WHEN it comes to outstanding Queensland educator Sharon Williams, science academia’s loss has been education’s gain. Having worked at the University of Queensland in research assistance and lab management roles for over 10 years, Williams’ childhood dream of one day being a teacher finally came to fruition several years ago. Now in her third year as one of two specialist primary science teachers at Goodna State School in Ipswich, Williams’ knowledge and enthusiasm is having a dramatic effect on students and her skill and dedication recently saw her rewarded with an Outstanding Teacher of Science Award at the Peter Doherty Awards for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. “Because I have a science background, I’m able to take the natural inquisitive nature that children have and channel that,” she says. “They’re natural investigators, they’re really good at picking things up and pulling things

Year 6 students Waimania Paikea and Keana Turner create sugar density gradients with their teacher Sharon Williams, middle. apart and climbing trees and making discoveries much more naturally then we do as we get older, but don’t naturally or intuitively explore the world scientifically – they’re really good at discovering things, but don’t necessarily analyse them effectively. “So what we try to do is make sure that, one, it’s engaging so that the children’s interest is captured really quickly, but secondly that the natural

inquisitiveness and curiosity that they’re good at is funnelled through the scientific method, so that they then learn how to inquire appropriately.” Williams’ focus is on upper primary Years 4-6 and she is constantly finding ways to engage her students. “Every lesson I teach, unless I’m doing assessment or a final wrap up lesson, has some kind of demonstration or hands-on activity for the children to en-

gage with themselves,” she says. “It’s a lovely luxury because the kids always feel really engaged knowing that there’s going to be something to do.” With an emphasis on STEM subjects at the forefront of discussion these days, Williams says all schools would benefit from having their own specialist primary science teachers. “I think that as long as it’s appropriately funded and the teachers are adequately trained in the area, it’s a great idea,” Williams says. “Kids always know when science begins and ends, because of the specialist teacher, just like they know when music starts or PE starts or languages, it feels very concrete for them and helps them identify that ‘I like this subject’, so their engagement is able to be maintained. “One of the reasons the program still exists is because when we have community forums with parents, they always say ‘my kid comes home and talks about science every week’ so we must be doing something right!”

INBRIEF Kids teach other kids MELBOURNE - Over 200 children from several different schools attended Silverton Primary School’s Kids Teaching Kids Conference. The event aimed to showcase children’s capacity to share what they know through fun and interactive activities. The students themselves spearheaded the planning of the activities and workshops.

Portland R U OK? day PORTLAND - Portland Secondary School had the opportunity to run two very important fundraising activities that focused on mental and physical health. The R U OK Campaign is an activity that Year 12 students have been passionate about over the past couple of years and students are asked to look out for each other and ask the very important question, ‘are you OK?’

Discover our heritage SYDNEY - Year 7 students of Loreto Normanhurst have been studying the topic ‘discovering our heritage’. They have learnt about archaeology, the significance of Indigenous culture and the need to preserve World Heritage sites. As part of this unit, the students visited the Australian Museum and Royal Botanic Gardens to gain further knowledge of Aboriginal archaeology. Email briefs to

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Have you got your USI? ‘Unless exempt every student requires a Unique Student Identifier (USI) to obtain a certificate or qualification from their registered training organisation when studying a nationally recognised training course in Australia. This includes studying at a public (e.g. TAFE) or private training organisation, completing an apprenticeship, certificate or diploma course. A USI gives you access to an online account which keeps all your training records together, even if you move locations, change training organisations or undertake studies at different times in your life. For more information ask your training organisation or visit


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INBRIEF School pride on show BENDIGO - The Tournament of Minds team of Camp Hill Primary School competed at the state finals at La Trobe University while at the same time, Year 3-6 students represented the school at the district sports competition. Principal Leonie Roberts expressed her pride in these students for representing the school with discipline and good manners.

Magic Indonesian day DROUIN - Chairo Christian School held its annual Indonesian Cultural and Prayer Day. The event raised more than $200 to benefit the mission work of Beyond Subsistence. Students and staff members worked together to cook Indonesian pancakes flavoured with Pandan. Other activities included building Indonesian housing models, puppetry, and much more.

Mastering instruction MAITLAND - Maitland Christian School is continuing to develop its approach to teaching and learning by incorporating the evidence-based practice of explicit instruction. This highly effective teaching strategy ensures every student participates, engages, and masters the content in every lesson.

Send your letters and email to School of Thought Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Five essential ways to address student wellbeing at school tor for child and adolescent health, education, and social wellbeing. Students with low connectedness are two to three times more likely to experience depressive symptoms compared to more connected peers.

IN May this year, the New South Wales Department of Education published a literature review into the area of student wellbeing. It’s worth having a look at the whole report, which you can find at cese. You’ll also find lots of other research-based reports that will enhance your understanding of a whole range of issues in education. According to the literature review, there are five essential ways to ensure student wellbeing is addressed in your school. They are:

3. Learning Engagement Key points of interest for me in the report – particularly given my interest in engagement and positive psychology – were the following suggestions: i. Quality instruction may mean student participation in design, delivery and review of the program and/or active participation in parts of their education, from consultation to decision-making.

ii. The work of Suzy Green was cited as such: When people work with their strengths (signature strengths as defined by Martin Seligman), they tend to learn more readily, perform at a higher level, are more motivated and confident and have a stronger sense of satisfaction, mastery and competence. iii. And Lea Waters’ research into Positive Psychology interventions in school was summarised as: Waters reviewed evidence from 12 schools that had implemented positive psychology interventions focusing on gratitude, hope, serenity, resilience and character strengths, and found that these interventions were significantly related to student wellbeing,

4. Social and Emotional Learning I’ve heard a few teachers and even leaders suggest that there simply isn’t time to address the social and emotional learning of students. But if you’re trying to make a case for it in your school, you could cite the research of Durlak et al, who conducted a meta-analysis of 213 studies of SEL programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students in the US and found that compared to control participants, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behaviour, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentilepoint gain in achievement. 5. Whole School Approach Student wellbeing cannot be seen as something else we do in schools. It can not be thought of in isolation. It starts with leadership and must permeate every aspect of school life. From the classroom to the sporting field, taking into account policies, pedagogy and curriculum and involves everyone: teachers, students, parents and support staff.

1. Schools need to provide a safe environment A safe environment is one in which students are physically and emotionally safe. As well as the more obvious issues around site safety, OH&S and the like, a school environment must also be free from bullying or exaggerated stressors. 2. Connectedness A sense of belonging to the school environment is an established protective fac-

relationships and academic performance.

Five simple ways to address student wellbeing in your school setting.

Dan Haesler is a consultant, writer and international keynote speaker. Read his blog at or follow him on Twitter at @danhaesler.

Email briefs to


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Kids prove they’re capable learners Rebecca Vukovic TOWARDS the end of Term 3, an email landed in my inbox from a 15-year-old student named Owen from Templestowe College in Victoria. He was keen to share with me the story of his school and the way education is delivered differently there. While still a student, Owen is also a paid employee of the college, working as part of the TC Consultancy, an in-house arm of the college that provides training and information to other schools who are considering adopting a similar philosophy. My engagement with Owen epitomises the fundamental principle of the college: that students are capable of much more than existing school systems give them credit for. The school’s principal Peter Hutton says the whole aim of this philosophy is to give students the opportunity to act in real-world capacities and gain genuine job experience. “Whenever we have opportunities to do it, we will employ a student over a staff member,” Hutton shares.

Students at Templestowe College take control of their own learning. “So we actually now employ quite a number of students within the TC Consultancy who do everything from assisting when we have tours of the school by visiting schools … taking the visitors around, explaining the philosophy of the school, explaining how it works, those sorts of things.” As part of their unique approach to education, Templestowe College does things a lot differently to most. Some of these things include: the school

does not have year levels, students have a choice of what they study and who teaches them, they have over 100 elective subject options, most students complete VCE over three or more years, the students can have phones in class, the school does not have bells and every student has a personalised learning plan. But when Hutton arrived at the school in Term 4, 2009, it didn’t look at all like it does now. “We had had 10 years of de-

clining enrolments, up until that point we were down to 286 local students and we had 23 Year 7s so we were basically told by the regional director on two occasions that the school wasn’t viable and should be closed,” he explains. “Next year we’ll have around 750 students and around 170 entry students which you would call Year 7. Initially the first couple of years were just about survival and getting our house in order and then the real innovative stuff probably started happening two to three years ago.” The school is also dedicated to sharing their experiences with others, empowering communities to give students control over their own learning. “We’ve learned a lot through the process of our journey towards empowering students and we don’t want other schools to have to start from scratch. “We want to work collaboratively with other schools and we want this to be a style of education that’s available to all students, not just those who happen to be close to [us].”

INBRIEF Crazy hair for charity SYDNEY - Brighton-Le-Sands Public School are supporting Stewart House – a holiday retreat for New South Wales public school students whose families are dealing with a range of difficult situations. As part of their fundraiser this year, students are encouraged to bring $2 to participate in ‘Crazy Hair Day’ where they can decorate their hair in crazy styles.

Sharing their stories LAUNCESTON - Sacred Heart School’s mini Vinnie’s team visited Tyler Village Retirement Home to see the elderly residents. The students sang songs and gave away bookmarks and the residents shared their stories. The school newsletter reports the students had a great time and are looking forward to their next visit.

Gardeners get stuck in ALICE SPRINGS - Class 2 of Alice Springs Steiner School had a big week in their garden as they planted 300 tomato seeds. They were also involved in checking for lady beetles on their garlic bulbs and helping install worm farms in areas where some plants weren’t growing as well. They also planted marigold and basil to accompany the garlic. Email briefs to

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Kids’ standing ovation CANBERRA - Students in the theatre program at St Mary MacKillop College have enjoyed success and recognition with awards for their school production. This points to a body of talent and skill that underpins the theatrical experience for the students. According to the school newsletter, the cast performed Legally Blonde Jr with skill, humour and engagement.

Project versus project DARWIN - For seven weeks, Years 5 and 6 students of Ross Park Primary School have been working on a special project. The students were divided into two groups, one exploring maths engineering and the other looking at social sciences. In the end, social sciences presented their findings in the form of a play about historical figures.

Reminder for parents HOBART - Parents from the Emmanuel Christian School have been reminded to send a bottle of water to school with their child each day. Dehydration is a common cause of health problems, especially for children during the warmer months. Parents were also reminded that daily water intake impacts a child’s performance and that it is important to stay hydrated. Email briefs to

EXCITED Burnie High School students have enjoyed a fascinating and fun insight into TV food show production. In conjunction with local food charity organisation Produce to the People, the Tasmanian students have assisted in producing an episode of popular Network Ten show Ben’s Menu, starring former MasterChef Australia favourite, Ben Milbourne. Hospitality students, Year 7 and 9 food studies students and drama/production students were involved in either on-camera presentations, assisting the crew or audience participation. Trainees and Apprenticeship Pathway (TAP) teacher and coordinator Steph Prendergast has worked closely this year on the school farm with Produce to the People founder Penelope Dodd, who’s ties with Milbourne brought about the project. The day started with filming at the school farm and later moved to its industrial kitchen with four students working one-on-one with Milbourne on individual recipes. “Because it was all vegetables that they were using [from the school garden], the students were able to see with Ben all of the creative ways they could use these different vegetables from kale to

A Burnie High School student cooks with celebrity chef, Ben Milbourne. purple carrots to cabbages, beetroot … some of the farm eggs,” Prendergast says. Food studies coordinator Georgie Smith says the experience was priceless for the students. “There were a couple of multimedia group boys who spent the day with the cameraman, he was awesome. He was really good with the kids and he actually had them physically filming with him, following instructions, and so on.” Prendergast agrees. “It’s not just the learning opportunities … it’s the teamwork, building of whole new relation-

ships and just developing leadership skills.” A highlight for Prendergast was witnessing the experience of one aspiring young chef in particular. “One of the last students, she has an Australian school-based traineeship with a local restaurant, and because of that experience, she was put in a hotspot of, ‘here’s your mystery bag of ingredients – what are you going to do with it?’ “This student probably needs a few more challenging situations to develop her self-confidence and she just shone. It was just beautiful to see,” she says.


Greek man shares his migration tale STUDENTS at Eagle Junction State School were treated to a special visit during their migration studies unit. Year 5/6SL met Steve Samios, a migrant from Greece who came to Australia during WWII fleeing the poverty and famine caused by war in his home country. Samios shared his experiences with the students, becoming a very useful primary source to help with their history assignment on migration to Australia. “Mr Samios had lots of information to share about his early days in Australia with us,” students write in the school newsletter. “He told us that he worked in his uncle’s shop until he was able to buy his own restaurant. “Mr Samios said that when he first came to Australia he felt very welcomed.”

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intheclassroom 45 INBRIEF Dancing to a cultural beat

text analysis

Exploring morals and fable stories TO deepen their understanding of texts, Year 3 children at Subiaco Primary School have been focusing their attention on the positive and negative characters that appear in fable stories. After discussing the hidden moral of each fable, the class from Western Australia identified the different character traits portrayed by protagonists and then linked these back to the overall meaning of the story. “If we pay attention to the character traits, we understand more of the story and read at a deeper level. We improve our comprehension of the text,” the school newsletter reports. Using clues from the story students were able to discuss why they selected each character trait and how this was shown through what the characters do and say.

Year 3 took a deeper look at fables.

Cultural studies

Classics help language

JAPAN celebrates several cultural festivals throughout the year, each with a different significance and purpose. To teach students about this custom, Japanese teacher Michele Sharp has them take part in many of the cultural traditions of these festivals, and often dresses up to add to the appeal. “The Japanese have festivals pretty much every month and I just like to discuss those with my students as a way of incorporating culture, as well as their language study in the unit,” the Radford College teacher says. “It’s just a fun way to consolidate the learning whilst embedding the culture in what they’re studying in their normal program.” To mark the beginning of Obon, the festival of the dead, Sharp taught her Year 8s a new dance called Tankoo Bushi for Obon Odori. “It’s performed to a song about coal mining which apparently refers to the old mine in Miike Mine in Kyushu, so I was initially introduced to the dance a number of years ago at a Japanese teacher network or professional learning session,” Sharp says. “In Canberra we’ve got a lot of Japanese teachers who usually meet once a term to improve

learning showcase

Maths on display

A MARVELLOUS Maths Trail showcased the great learning taking place in classrooms at Woodville Primary School, with parents and families invited to the Adelaide school to witness the learning in action. The school’s deputy principal Val Perham says this collaborative engagement with the community focused on mathematics this year, drawing inspiration from last year’s showcase which explored all things related to literacy. “We wanted to show our maths learning and make maths fun for people,” Perham says. “Each year we evaluate how it goes and how we can improve it and what we can do next year because we don’t want to do the same topic each year. We want to showcase different curriculum areas.” On the morning of the maths trail, parents and families were treated to a dance by students, before being led from class to class, answering a variety of maths questions and challenges. “There were maths games and puzzles and things to do at tables. Other students who didn’t have parents were guides and welcomed parents into the classroom and played games with people and teachers wrote learning intentions of what the games were,” Perham explains. The whole aim of the showcase was to report to the school community about what they are doing

November 2015 • australian Teacher

ADELAIDE - Indonesian students of The Hills Montessori School have explored vocabulary in the theme of clothing and family member names. Both cycles three and four are reading prepared scripts of the Emperor’s New Clothes and Jungle Cinderella which also explore this theme and use grammar knowledge and vocabulary from the term.

Learning about bees

Radford College teacher Michele Sharp and her Year 8s learned a traditional Japanese dance to celebrate the Obon festvial. practice through collaboration so I’ve learnt it through that system and since then I’ve just incorporated it into my classroom work each August. I do it to coincide with Obon the festival of the dead in August.” In these lessons, students practised the dance with fans (uchiwa) and Sharp even dressed in a traditional, casual summer kimono (yukata) to add to the whole experience. She says learning the dance is

always a really engaging activity for both genders, as the boys tend to enjoy the mining aspects of the dance and the girls tend to enjoy the musical side of it. “It assists the students to realise that culture is something that is practised as part of everyday life in societies around the world,” Sharp says, “so you’ve got things like the intercultural understanding being enhanced, and hopefully that will help them to be better global citizens.”

science competition

Annual crystal growing competition makes science fun for middle years chelsea attard

Students demonstrate their learning. in class, how students are learning and what outcomes they are achieving. According to Perham, both the parents and the students loved the experience. “There were lots of positive comments from parents, it was nice to see some students shine in areas that they don’t see normally. “So some of the students who were dancing and leading the dancing, they hadn’t seen that and it was an opportunity for students to show their leadership skills and their learning – so it was very positive,” she adds. “They were very proud to share their work and their classroom and their learning.”

MIDDLE school students donned their lab coats, warmed up their Bunsen burners and had their measuring tapes at the ready during Ryan Catholic College’s annual crystal growing competition. The competition, which ran during Science Week, challenged student teams to create either the biggest, or the best geometrically shaped crystal. Daryl Bathe, Year 5-8 science middle leader says the competition has been running at the school for six consecutive years. “It’s a great competition because you get staff and students from across the school, and you get younger kids working with older kids and staff that wouldn’t normally work with each other,” he says. To grow their crystals students heat up a saturated solution of alum, adding more solid alum to eventually allow the solution to cool down and re-crystalise. “So we hang little bits of cotton into the solution and it basically seeds, if you like. “A little crystal forms on the cotton ... the next lesson we come back up, we do the whole process all over again, and then we hang it back in there. “Once it cools down to a certain temperature, and basically more alum attaches to that little seed crystal, and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” he explains.

SYDNEY - Years 1 and 2 students from Narrabeen North Public School have been learning about bees throughout the term in their English unit. The lessons focussed on conservation and sustainability and students learned how bees play an important role in the natural world.

Ottley shares secrets PERTH - Artist, musician, and author Matt Ottley visited Living Waters Lutheran College recently. He did two sessions, one for the Year 8 and 9s and another for Year 6 and 7s. In both sessions, Ottley revealed his childhood experiences and influences in Papua New Guinea and how his family moved to Australia. Aside from his artworks, Ottley also showed his process of creating book characters.

Reunion recollections SYDNEY - Pymble Public School hosted ex-students of the school as part of a 1950s and 60s reunion. The participants were given a tour of the school as they shared stories about their experiences in primary school at Pymble. About 80 ex-students attended and enjoyed recollecting their fond memories.

Journey fosters pride CANBERRA - Forrest Primary School students participated in a Learning Journey, which was held in all classrooms across the school. This event is an opportunity for students to showcase their achievements as well as an occasion for community engagement, school pride, and positive acknowledgement. The event is designed to strengthen the partnership between school and families.

Special needs program Daniel Parker shows off his team’s winning crystal. Unlike regular science lessons, the competition is focused on exposing students to new skills and experience, and making science fun, rather than meeting learning requirements. “We don’t push the content as much as just being involved in science, and learning skills of working around the laboratory ... being able to follow instructions, being able to work collaboratively in a group,” Bathe says. And the competitive aspect adds to the experience. “There’s definitely is a bit of competition because the kids like having a look at how everybody else is going,” he says.

ADELAIDE - Port Noarlunga Primary School held Siblings in Focus, a two-day structured program for 8- 12year-old siblings of children with special needs, disabilities, and/or chronic illnesses. This program is free with food provided and is based on the Sibworks program developed by Siblings Australia.

Improved mental state BUNBURY - Students at Djidi Djidi Aboriginal School know more about the human brain than most adults – and that knowledge is helping transform their mental wellbeing, improve behaviour and increase school attendance. At least three times a day, each classroom at the primary school sits in silence for minutes at a time while students close their eyes and practice breathing. Email briefs to

intheclassroom 46 INBRIEF Students go head to head to design A fairy good unit and pitch a healthy canteen delight australian Teacher • November 2015

Cooking competition

connected unit

WHILE My Kitchen Rules might be a huge ratings winner on TV, My Canteen Rules has been just as big a hit at Rooty Hill High School in Sydney. Kicking off last year, it’s an initiative between Western Sydney Local Health District and SALSA (Students As Lifestyle Activists). A Year 10 leadership opportunity at the school, the loose concept for My Canteen Rules involved connecting the canteen, the school and students to make some sort of change. This year 30 Year 8 HPE students were separated into five teams and went head to head to determine the kings of the school kitchen. “Basically, the students are educated on what green, red and amber food items are in terms of a healthy canteen policy and what a healthy food item looks like and the healthy food guidelines,” HPE teacher and My Canteen Rules coordinator, Joel Baines says. “They were given the task of designing a green food item that would be sold at the canteen.” After they had designed their menu, the students cooked or prepared it in the school kitchen. Each entry was then tasted by the canteen manager, a dietician from Western Sydney area health,

TRANSITION students at Darwin’s Marrara Christian College have been taken on a adventure this year during ‘Once Upon A Time...’ – a connected unit involving fairy tales and nursery rhymes. “Our school is part of a system of seven schools and because we’re Christian schools we need to look at the Australian Curriculum and put it into our context,” teacher Lyn Hart says. “For the last two or three years, we’ve been getting together and devising and connecting units. “They’re mainly history and geography and science areas, but we try and build a connector that covers lots of different things including numeracy and literacy.” Students have taken to such old favourites as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Humpty Dumpty, The Little Red Hen and Three Billie Goats Gruff. Hart says Humpty Dumpty was a highlight. “So we start off with determining what country the nursery rhyme’s from... “We do a lot of the English – so the words, what do they mean? The rhyming, we sequence the stories, talk about beginning, middle and end, we innovate, we make up our own nursery rhymes, so we do some writing, and then

ANZAC art completed

SYDNEY - Year 6 students of Newington College’s Wyvern House Preparatory School have completed their artistic homage to the ANZACs. They used a variety of mediums, including rust and gel. With the task to create an artwork with a sombre mood, students relied on their imaginations to picture what life must have been like for the ANZACs.

Books light up Seacliff ADELAIDE - Seacliff School held a Book Week parade in the school’s hall recently. The theme was ‘Books Light Up Your Life’. Students and staff dressed up as a character from a movie or book and students made their own story books to share. The school newsletter displays a collage of photos from the event.

Lauded writers inspire BRISBANE - Twenty students from Years 7, 8, and 9 of Hillbrook Anglican School attended the Brisbane Writer’s Festival to see presentations by lauded US writers Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and Australian authors like Jane Caro, David Burton, John Marsden, and Elizabeth Farrelly. Students who wish to become writers were inspired by this festival. Email briefs to

Joel Baines is coordinator of Rooty Hill High School’s My Canteen Rules. and the principal, and they were then given feedback on how it would look in the school canteen and maybe a few slight changes that could be made. “After the tasting, they then got up in assembly in front of the whole school and pitched their product to the school and the whole school voted on their favourite food item,” Baines says. Dishes included a yoghurt parfait with homemade granola, a chicken burrito called ‘Bite Delight, they also made a beef burrito, a yoghurt sundae and a gluten-free cauliflower-based pizza – ‘which came up pretty well’, apparently.


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Transition students have enjoyed learning about Humpty Dumpty. we do lots of experiments on eggs. “We walk on eggs, so we try and see how strong an egg is – so can you hold it in your hand and squeeze it? We learn that while it is strong, we also know why Humpty Dumpty broke so easily. Hart says The Little Red Hen encouraged students to work together to tidy up the school garden while they waited for the bread to bake, and after listening to the Three Billy Goats Gruff, they cooperated to make bridges from box construction materials for their little gnomes. Hart says the children have been loving the unit.

intheclassroom 47

VCAL program

Students provide disability support YEAR 12 VCAL students at Parkdale Secondary College in Melbourne have been helping out not-for-profit organisation Scope at the local Don Tatnell Leisure Centre. Scope is a disability support service that enables adults with a disability to participate in a whole range of activities and services and to achieve their goals in life. According to the school newsletter, the students participated in the program, providing support and assistance to participants in a range of ways across activities including art classes, cooking classes, music/jam’ sessions, swimming and ‘Wheelie Active’ classes. As a secondary incentive, the students were also able to use the gym for personal fitness sessions when they weren’t working with the Scope clients. “I was extremely proud of the way the students conducted themselves and participated enthusiastically in all the activities,” teacher Ms Fulton said in the school newsletter. “They should be very proud of their achievements.” The program finished with an afternoon tea, hosted by the VCAL students.

November 2015 • australian Teacher

INBRIEF Special Skype call excites

Skype interview

Art exhibition a hit

Jonathan Bleakley organised a unique Skype link-up for Year 7 students. ONCE in a while, we all like to feel a bit special, and for Year 7 English students at Lilydale High School in Melbourne, a Skype link-up with a special guest in Afghanistan was such an occasion. Three years ago, while thinking of ways to enhance curriculum text Parvana by Deborah Ellis, teacher Jonathan Bleakley thought it would be novel for his class to gain some firsthand information. “Parvana is the story of an 11year-old girl growing up in Afghanistan at the height of the Taliban regime and the challenges she faces...” he says. “I had a friend who I knew had been working in Afghanistan for

a while [Bec] who I’d lost touch with, but I got in touch with a few other people and eventually got her contact details and asked her whether she’d be open to having a conversation with my students. “She suggested ‘we do have access to Skype and that’s a possibility’, so we set that up and it just went so well and was such a wonderful experience that I’ve been trying to do it once a year since.” Prior to the link-up, each student submitted three questions and Bleakley chose the best for Bec to answer. “She’s played a variety of roles in her time there, but always in community development, particularly women’s health and education.

“She’s spent a lot of time working in mental health promotion,” Bleakley says. Bleakley encourages his students to ask difficult questions. “Kids are naturally drawn to danger and so there’s definitely questions on ‘have you seen bombs go off?’, ‘Have you seen people be killed? Bleakley says a highlight is when Bec and the students talk about what we can learn from the Afghans. “I think there’s always this sense of ‘people in the third world, we should have sympathy for’, ‘poor them, life is hard’. “Yes, they don’t have much but we would be embarrassed at how hospitable they are to everyone who comes their way ... just the level of hospitality and generosity that they have,” Bleakley says. He says his students enjoy the novelty of the chat, but particularly that sense of self importance of ‘wow, there’s someone on the other side of the planet who’s taking the time to talk to us, who thinks we‘re important enough to talk to’ is wonderful. “A lot of times we speculate on things that are in a book or a film, but to actually have someone speak from experience ... tends to make things more real.”

PERTH - North Cottesloe Primary School had a successful art exhibition recently. They profited a total of $20,000 which will go to the P&C to be spent on enhancing educational experiences. The school newsletter acknowledges the parents, staff, and students who contributed to making the event a success.

Science expo record PERTH - Servite College ran their annual Science Expo as part of Australia’s Science Week celebration. The whole staff, students and parents were present enjoyed the event. This year was the college’s most elaborate and comprehensive expo ever, with more than 400 curious participants swarming in to appreciate the exhibition.

Students talk weather MOUNT GAMBIER - The Reception class of Mulga Street Primary School have been learning about different types of weather and the effects it has on the day. The students have created pictures of cold and warm weather using painting techniques and also dressed up for different weather conditions. The newsletter reports the resulting art works were imaginative. Email briefs to

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intheclassroom 48 australian Teacher • November 2015

INBRIEF Children with learning differences program checklist

Quick mo’s for charity

SYDNEY - The juniors of Queenwood School for Girls appeared to have sprouted moustaches overnight, but it was all for a good cause. The Social Justice Captains of Queenwood collected a total amount of $490 for this fundraising activity. All of the proceeds will go to the school’s international work in Cambodia.

Project Abroad push SYDNEY - St Paul’s Catholic College has encouraged students to attend Project Abroad, which is ideal for Year 12 students planning after school adventures or for Year 10s and 11s who might be interested in the end of year high school projects. The event organises volunteer and work experience programs in 29 developing countries in teaching and childcare.

Tas Walkathon success LAUNCESTON - Students of Larmenier Catholic Primary School have taken part in the P&F major fundraiser for the year – the School Walkathon. Money raised will assist with the school’s playground redevelopment. Every dollar that the school raised will be spent on supporting purchasing resources for children. Both parents and children enjoyed participating.

Lob-a-choc bright idea LATROBE - St Patrick’s School’s Mr Saltmarsh and the Student Representative Council have run a school dance with the theme ‘Bright’. Donations were in the form of chocolates which will be used for one of the school fair’s activities ‘Lob-a-choc’. Any covered chocolate, regardless of brand or price, was accepted during the event.

ANNE VIZE Q. A teacher at our school has suggested implementing a new program to support children who have learning differences. How would I know if a program is a good idea to use? A: There are many programs and approaches which exist to support children who have learning differences and it is important to think carefully and do some research before you implement something new at your school. As a teacher, you are in an ideal position to collect information, consider points of view and make a considered and informed decision about what is (and is not) appropriate to use. Here are some questions that it would be prudent to ask yourself before taking the next step with a new program: • Does it have the support of peak bodies such as SPELD (Specific Learning Differences organisation)? • Does it have the support of the majority of education academics and researchers in Australia who typically write in this area? • Can you locate peer-reviewed research about the program in reputable academic or education journals? • Can you find information about the use of a randomised controlled trial where children are randomly assigned to either a control or trial group

Do your research before implementing a new program in the classroom. so the program’s effectiveness can be objectively evaluated? • Has the program’s effectiveness been carefully evaluated using large groups of children? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions it would be wise to use a high degree of caution before offering your support for the program. Unfortunately there are some programs which find their way into Australia which do not have a solid basis in scientific evidence collected over time. These programs can be associated more with high cost marketing and additional costs for parents than with good science and careful, appropriate collection of data. These programs tend to rely on case studies or in-house evidence collected and published on their

own websites or on anecdotal reports and testimonials from people who have experienced the program directly. Sometimes these programs are also associated with a significant investment in time and human resources at both a home and school level, with both teachers and families being asked to spend many hours implementing activities. This resourcing obviously comes at a cost to everyone and takes valuable time away from other activities that a child could be doing. In short, time spent completing one activity is not therefore available for doing something else such as learning in the classroom or spending time playing with friends. Marketing is interesting to ex-


amine in the light of some new programs also. Think carefully about the information which is actually included in any marketing or information material provided to you. If you are seeing lots of high appeal words and phrases such as ‘scientifically proven’, ‘brain-based learning’ or ‘neuroplasticity’, ‘cure’ or ‘rewiring the brain’ or extensive reliance on testimonials from parents in the material, it would be wise to look more closely before you proceed. Likewise, if you are seeing more about the program in commercial television programs and on websites and social media than you are in academic, peer-reviewed journals, then you should be very careful. This is not to say that new programs will not, over time, go on to become valuable additions to the education support landscape. But when they do, this should be on the back of solid scientific evidence and a good understanding of how learning occurs, rather than glossy marketing. By asking for evidence to support the use of a new program aimed at children who have learning differences you will then be in the best position to offer an appropriate intervention which is more likely to succeed for the children in your classroom. Anne Vize is an educational author from Melbourne. Her latest book Taking Care of You – reducing stress and burnout amongst teachers and educators is published by Teaching Solutions.

Marrara costume fun DARWIN - For this year’s book character assembly, the library team of Marrara Christian College dressed as characters from How To Train Your Dragon. Students with the best homemade costumes were given prizes. Students from preschool to Year 12 all contributed and some of the costumes were inspired by steampunk and Where the Wild Things Are.

Bush block kids’ fun ADELAIDE - Students at Tanunda Lutheran School celebrated the first day of Spring and National Wattle Day by spending the majority of the day at the Bush Block. They enjoyed having a sausage in bread around the camp fire, playing, singing, exploring, digging, planting, and other activities. The children enjoyed sharing the space with their families and friends.

Creative North Ainslie CANBERRA - North Ainslie Primary School has held its Creative Arts Showcase which included a concert and art exhibitions. Those attending the matinee donated money, which will be used to cover the costs associated with running the event. Any profits will be directed to the arts program and Play Pod project. The entire community helped make the event a success. Email briefs to





newspapers in education


community engagement


A handy resource in the ‘Newspapers in Education’ collection is Letters to the Editor. This resource provides instructions for students who may want to write a letter and have their work published in S-press magazine. Students will develop opinions on issues and learn how to have their voice heard in the community. Students will understand the difference between unbiased reporting and opinions in the newspaper. Spress, produced bi-monthly, presents student letters on a whole range of topics. These letters can vary in quality and length.

EDUCATIONHQ’s ‘Cricket’ collection features some great resources to engage students. Seven activities make up a case study of Fawad Ahmed, a cricketer who left Pakistan in 2010 and migrated to Australia as a refugee. Activities cover topics including push and pull migration factors, learning about biographies, exploring Pakistan through primary and secondary sources, asking probing questions and comparing migration stories. The seven activities make up a unit of work called ‘Australia as a Nation’, aimed at Year 6 pupils studying history.

There are always opportunities for students to become involved in the local community, but it can be hard to know where to start. The Be My Buddy Module explains how to establish buddy relationships between primary students and residents from a local retirement village. The resource provides a structure for implementing a buddy project, starting with ‘identifying a need’, ‘readiness and preparation’, ‘introduction’, ‘implementation’, and ‘enrichment’. This resource is based on a successful module at St Charles Borromeo Primary School in Victoria.

A great addition to EducationHQ’s technology collection comes from Mika Heinemann, head of the Industrial Technology and Design Department, and Vocational Education and Training coordinator from Queensland’s Coombabah State High School. The App Development Task is for students from graphics, photography and IPT/ICT classes. The comprehensive seven-week unit plan outlines separate tasks for graphics, photography and IPT/ ICT students and includes a list of necessary materials and assessment criteria.

In partnership with: S-press is the magazine just for Australia’s teenagers. Featuring music, sport, celebrity news, current affairs, careers advice and inspiring stories about what teenagers are achieving right around the country.

In partnership with: Cricket Australia is the custodian of cricket in Australia. Cricket Australia is made up of six member associations : Cricket NSW, Qld Cricket, SA Cricket Assoc., Tasmanian Cricket Assoc., Cricket Victoria and WA Cricket Assoc.

In partnership with: Sue Cahill, student wellbeing leader and student services leader at St Charles Borromeo PS has provided this resource for EducationHQ to share. If you have a resource to share email

In partnership with: Mika Heinemann is head of the Industrial Technology and Design Department, at Coombabah State HS. Heinemann shares this resource with readers. If you have a resource to share email

This resource was contributed to the EducationHQ community by an educator.

This resource was contributed to the EducationHQ community by an educator.

November 2015 • australian Teacher • 49

Each school term, our guide to school incursions will present a large range of options, giving you a great way to find new learning opportunities for your school. Every day on EducationHQ, we provide a comprehensive, searchable collection of incursions. Have you experienced a great incursion? Email to share it with us. Visit to start exploring.

Our Big Kitchen is a communityminded, commercial sized kitchen with a soul. OBK strives to provide a variety of quality programs that aim to educate, inspire and ultimately encourage the joy of giving.

The mobile dairy classroom

We hope that through our school programs we are able to teach children about being givers rather than just takers and about making a difference, whilst simultaneously teaching them about the importance of nutrition and exercise.

A unique paddock to plate incursion, where your students experience hand milking a dairy cow and making a range of dairy products. Luke and Jess Micallef 0415 346 266/ 0430 481 260

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At Our Big Kitchen we often say that food is so much more than just what we produce, it is the excuse that we use to gather the community together to share, create, experience and enjoy one another.

Helen O’Grady Drama Academy Incursions Years K–12 • Our unique, self-development programme is designed to give children, confidence, selfesteem and verbal communication skills. • Fully trained, dynamic teachers ensure that students get great lessons. • Depending on your needs, we offer a one-off workshop, 2-10 week courses, or a whole year’s worth of lessons, across your whole school! • With over 35 years of experience, our programme can be tailored to suit the needs of your school. Contact Executive Principal, Helen Davey on (08) 9242 4722 or


Australia’s largest health and drug education program chosen by 30,000 teachers every year

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Over 1000 schools have had us return Student interaction with cool experiments that Shatter, Explode, Fizz, Pop & even change colour. From Chemistry to Science with an Indigenous Perspective our Australian Curriculum intergrated Science Shows, will leave students & teachers alike, excited for days.

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50 • AUSTRALIAN Teacher • November 2015

Each school term, our guide to school incursions will present a large range of options, giving you a great way to find new learning opportunities for your school. Every day on EducationHQ, we provide a comprehensive, searchable collection of incursions. Have you experienced a great incursion? Email to share it with us. Visit to start exploring.

Expanding diversity


covering all cultures

Help your students develop insights into what multiculturalism represents in Australia and have

fun at the same time

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Peel Zoo2U

a hands on experience

REGISTRATIONS FOR 2016 ARE NOW OPEN! Are you looking for the ultimate dance/drama program for your school? Do you have a story to tell? A great story can change the way people think about the world around them. Wakakirri is a performing arts festival where schools aim to do just that.

We’ll bring the Zoo2U Peel Zoo2U is an intimate and hands on wildlife experience. It’s also age appropriate.

We’ve made it easy for your school to get involved! A Wakakirri Specialist can come to your school once a week for 12 weeks and do ALL the heavy lifting required to get your schools Story-Dance on stage. Your teachers are still involved but without the pressure of being in charge.

For instance, early childhood learning can be as simple as experiencing the different textures of fur, feathers and scales.


We’ll work with you to mix and match animals and age groups to ensure the best outcome for the children.

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to make a Zoo2U Incursion booking

“Edu-tainment” While we take wildlife and conservation education very seriously, we also believe this education should be fun. In short, our teaching philosophy is founded on the fact that ‘fun is memorable’. Peel Zoo2U is “edu-tainment”.

WHAT IS WAKAKIRRI? Each year hundreds of schools across Australia create StoryDances for Wakakirri that reflect student’s thoughts, ideas and aspirations. These stories are performed in professional theatres in front of the official ‘Wakakirri Panel’ who are searching for ‘Story of the Year’.


We even provide you with worksheets

Andrew McFarlane

Todd McKenney

Mark Wilson

Sanctuary Drive, Pinjarra WA Phone: 9531 4322 Email:

Performing in Wakakirri is an experience students never forget!

Contact usÊUÊÜ>Ž>ŽˆÀÀˆ°Vœ“ wakakirri@wakakirri.comÊUʛÜiœÛiÜ>Ž> *…œ˜i\Ê­äӮʙÈșÊÎÇÇÇÊUÊÀiiV>\£nääÊÈxäʙǙ

November 2015 • australian Teacher • 51

Each school term, our guide to school incursions will present a large range of options, giving you a great way to find new learning opportunities for your school. Every day on EducationHQ, we provide a comprehensive, searchable collection of incursions. Have you experienced a great incursion? Email to share it with us. Visit to start exploring.

WA’s screen skills specialist since 2003.


See our website for our full workshop menu, aligned with WA curriculum for Years 1 - 12 c Screen Acting & Drama c Media Arts & Production incl. Editing & iPad c Digital Technologies (Animation & Gaming) c Makeup & Green Screen FX There’s always a lot of ACTION at Filmbites.

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Student STEM Workshops



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All Sammat Education Student STEM Workshops incorporate activities that enhance and match the Australian Curriculum learning objectives. SPECIAL Get a 10% discount for bookings made in December 2015 or February 2016 on any Student STEM Workshop - Use code “STEM10” at the checkout Incursions for ALL Year Groups focusing on: • Robotics & Coding • Maker Space • News Production • Digital Literacy

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No preparation! 1 hour group sessions (60-90 students) $9.90 per student Students play between 10-15 games Students keep dice & ruler! Great PD for staff

Phone: 1300 72 33 44 Fax: 03 8660 2818 PO Box 437, Port Melbourne VIC 3207 ABN: 33 762 832 987


K?<JEFNGI@E:<JJ The Snow Princess by Blue Whale Theatre, touring direct to your primary school hall this December! A magical Christmas story for the whole school; contains singing, dancing, audience participation and laughter by the bucket load! Book now to avoid disappointment! Touring Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and Blue Mountains region. +61 401 418 323

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Are your students eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables? Experience a one hour, fun and interactive incursion about the paddock to plate journey with taste testing of the freshest and tastiest seasonal produce direct from the Melbourne wholesale fruit and vegetable Market. The ultimate way to bring your healthy eating curriculum to life! For more information, visit To book, contact the Melbourne Market Authority today. T 03 9258 6100 E

52 • AUSTRALIAN Teacher • November 2015

Each school term, our guide to school incursions will present a large range of options, giving you a great way to find new learning opportunities for your school. Every day on EducationHQ, we provide a comprehensive, searchable collection of incursions. Have you experienced a great incursion? Email to share it with us. Visit to start exploring.

Fun and educational theatre for your next school incursion!

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Ultimate Aboriginal incursions Koomurri is Australia’s Number one Aboriginal Education incursions. t Welcome to country and farewell “Corroboree” Traditional song and dance t Smoking ceremonies t Artefacts, weaponry bush survival and history t Boomerang throwing t Aboriginal art t Aboriginal song and dance t Torres Strait islander t Didgeridoo t All packages we offer are interactive t All day packages t Half day packages t individual class room workshops t We cover all aspects of Aboriginal culture curriculum t We taylor make for small and large school t Working with children’s check t Easy booking system For all signed bookings please mention Teachers magazine and receive a complimentary cultural gift pack for your school.

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November 2015 • australian Teacher • 53

Each school term, our guide to school incursions will present a large range of options, giving you a great way to find new learning opportunities for your school. Every day on EducationHQ, we provide a comprehensive, searchable collection of incursions. Have you experienced a great incursion? Email to share it with us. Visit to start exploring.


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Melbourne primary school science incursions

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Clapstand offer creative, wholesome and balanced incursions that provide excitement in a safe and fun environment. We take strong consideration insuring the incorporation of Social and Emotional Learning when developing our workshops and incursions.

Clapstand has taken the time to ensure that all incursions provided are mapped against current AusVELS to create ease in the selection of incursion. Our planning staff and facilitators are happy to work with you in creating tailored incursions to meet your inquiry/ ‘tuning in’ needs. We specialise in programs for: • High Schools • Primary Schools • School holiday programs • After School Care See our website for more on other incursions we offer. 1300 54 11 64


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54 • AUSTRALIAN Teacher • November 2015

Each school term, our guide to school incursions will present a large range of options, giving you a great way to find new learning opportunities for your school. Every day on EducationHQ, we provide a comprehensive, searchable collection of incursions. Have you experienced a great incursion? Email to share it with us. Visit to start exploring.


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technology innovation





High school students from around Australia can study astronomy and astrophysics online.

November 2015 national news Vic PrintACar challenge

The most exciting development in ICT in our school this year... has been the schoolwide availability of portable devices to students. It’s been great to see how the increased flexibility and portability have translated into a huge increase in student ICT literacy and agility across the curriculum. On the back of improved wireless facilities, we’ve seen computing come out of the lab and into the classroom and the applications for student presentations, research and learning have been exponentially growing. To a fellow educator who’s daunted by ICT, I would say... when in doubt, look at what other great teachers are doing successfully. Online teacher communities are full of generous and inspiring colleagues who are only too happy to share tips and ideas for evolving your classroom practice. Sally Morris, computer coordinator, Albury Public School, NSW

Do you have a story to tell ICT in Education? Email

Astronomy online THANKS to modern technology, the array of subjects available to high school students these days is simply out of this world. Students can even extend their gaze as far as astronomy, with online courses available through The School of Astronomy & Astrophysics (TSAA). TSAA began way back in 2004, when science teacher David Platz, currently based at Atherton State High School, applied for a grant through a State Government Spotlight on Science initiative. Platz was successful in gaining $30,000 to write a curriculum for astronomy, working together with lecturers from James Cook University. In 2007 the school reached another milestone, when the Queensland Studies Authority recognised astronomy and astrophysics as advanced schoolbased subjects, and in 2010, the courses were made available online through TSAA.

Platz says the school currently has around 300 students from 17 high schools across Queensland and New South Wales enrolled in the course, a number which has exceeded expectations. “We thought if we get around 28 to 30 students, that would be good. We’ve now enrolled about 300, which is really positive,” Platz says. According to Platz, who is now head of the school, teachers are finding TSAA is a great resource for extending gifted and talented students who are failing to find traditional STEM subjects challenging enough. “The students get on there and have little interaction with myself unless they have some real difficulties,” he says. Platz says graduates from the course don’t necessarily seek careers in astronomy or astrophysics, with many going into medicine, and some having ventured

into science, veterinary science and engineering. But for those who are interested in pursuing this career path, TSAA really gives them a leg up on the competition. “One of our students went to ANU on work placement. “She went and worked with astronomers down there on galaxy M82 ... she did the mathematics, and calculated the distance to that galaxy using the latest information, data from the Hubble Space Telescope,” Platz explains. “She was only the third person, there were two academics before her, to use this data.” TSAA was recently awarded $500,000 through the Collaboration and Innovation Fund Initiative. Platz says this money will be used to write syllabus for Data Science through Applications in Astronomy, Fundamentals of Coding and Scientific Literacy, together with the University of Southern Queensland.

FINALISTS from around Victoria competed for the title of the 2015 PrintACar Challenge champions at Melbourne University on October 9. Now in its second year, the challenge sees teams of students designing, printing and racing cars. All parts of the car must be printed using a 3D printer, with the exception of the axles, which may be made of another material. Student teams progressed through heats and semi-finals before the grand final declared the outright fastest car. Awards were also given for the best printed and finished car, most creative car design, best poster award and an overall winner. PrintACar is run by Quantum Victoria, a national and international provider and leader of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

international news British ‘no tech’ school STUDENTS at a ‘no-tech’ school in London are banned from using smart phones, computers and watching TV, both in class and at home. The London Acorn School opened in 2013, and currently has 42 pupils, who’s parents pay annual fees of up to £11,000 for this alternative education. According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, the pupils make their own exercise books and write in elegant looping longhand. Parents of the students are also asked to commit to a ban on technology at home. “We are against all forms of electronics for small children,” the school charter reads, “and only gradual integration towards it in adolescence.”

technology 56 INBRIEF Girls Talk seminars widely beneficial australian Teacher • November 2015

student wellbeing

Nice Chat for Change

MELBOURNE - Students in Prep to Year 12 at Glen Waverley Secondary College have been jumping into Chat for Change, a website run by an ex-student. Initiated in March last year, Chat for Change gives students an introduction to Human Rights, and then provides them with a safe and open channel through which to voice their opinions.

Heavenly Eden efforts EDEN - The design and technology HSC class at Eden Marine High School have completed their major design project, becoming project managers to get the job done. The NSW students used a variety of materials to design and create their masterpieces. One student even completed an entertainment bar that featured LED multi-coloured lighting and a sound system.

Ancient China theme PERTH - Year 4s at St Paul’s Primary School have undertaken a massive IT project based on their ancient China theme. Their teacher, Catherine Nguyen says it was a step-by-step project with each step being an assessable stand-alone piece. The students created digital presentations and also spent time comparing and contrasting their lives to that of the Ancient Chinese. Email briefs to

Merran O’Connor THE St Catherine’s School ‘Girls Talk’ parent seminars explore issues relating to girls’ development and wellbeing as part of the weThrive:Wellbeing @ St Catherine’s program. Drawing on the professional expertise of staff presenters, these seminars share the latest research and information. In our most recent seminar, parents were provided with key messages including the importance of instilling values surrounding the use of technology; what to expect of the changing brain during adolescence and the power of unplugging and being mindful in the present. Head of the Educational Resources and Information Centre, Kathryn White’s presentation ‘Digital Natives or Digital Orphans?’ debunked the myth that our children are experts just because they have grown up surrounded by technology. She urged parents to question whether familiarity is the same as mastery and to consider the implications of assuming kids can make the right moral choices without adult guidance in the online world. Acknowledging the inherent challenges parents face, White emphasised the need to provide a

strong network of values around technology use, in conjunction with strong value-based discussions at school, to assist their children to mature as moral and ethical digital citizens. She noted that “the mode has changed but the values remain the same”. The challenges of ‘Living with the Adolescent Brain’ were explored by Year 9 Dean Fiona Ganino-Day. The psychology teacher covered the role of the amygdala – the oldest part of the brain – and how it is responsible for our fight or flight response. This response, particularly evident in adolescents, can result in emotions ruling reason due to their undevel-

oped frontal lobe and the dominance of the amygdala. Ganino-Day quoted clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller who has dubbed the amygdala “Rex, the dinosaur part of our brain” and the frontal lobe “Albert, the higher thinking Einstein part”. Fuller describes adolescence as an ongoing battle between Albert and Rex, with Rex usually the victor. So how do we cope with these teenage years of Rex dominating our households? Fiona’s advice is to listen, resist the temptation to problem solve for our children but instead help them scaffold their own solutions by providing language that may help to articulate

A seminar at St Catherine’s has explored technology, teen brains and time out.

their feelings. She urged parents to encourage positive risk-taking to build resilience and discussed the influence technology use can have on teenage sleep patterns. Year 8 Dean, Elizabeth Ryan, shared evidence-based research that reveals mindfulness meditation to be integral to reducing stress, particularly in our fast paced world. In her presentation ‘The Power of Being in the Now’ she explained how our Year 8 students are practising mindful meditation to focus more effectively. Quoting author Eckhart Tolle, Ryan discussed how “stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.” Ryan, a history teacher, discussed the evolution of human intelligence and the role language plays in mental self-talk. She encourages the girls to use mindfulness to build positive self-talk, avoid dwelling on the ‘What if? and ‘If only I…’ thought patterns and recognise thoughts are not facts. The school-parent partnership is vital to empower girls to contextualise and critically evaluate their experiences in an everchanging world. Merran O’Connor is the director of Student Wellbeing at St Catherine’s School, Toorak, Victoria.

technology 57


help desk

STEM-ify your curriculum Noelene Callaghan

Periscope WHILST watching clips via YouTube is safe and easy to implement in a classroom, there is nothing quite the same as watching a live stream of content. Periscope is taking the world and the education sector by storm. Periscope lets you and your students see the world through the eyes of another person. You may connect with a class in China or in Uganda and see how they learn a particular topic or just observe their classroom dynamic. This free app that is available on both android and iOS devices is ideal for taking excursion learning and first-hand experiences to a whole new level. Noelene Callaghan, ICT teacher, Rooty Hill High School, New South Wales

November 2015 • australian Teacher

Q. WHAT is STEM and why do we need to integrate it into our teaching and learning? A. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a relatively new concept of educating students over four KLA’s by integrating these subjects together rather than teaching them separately. It has been found that by using teaching pedagogies that integrate subjects together such as STEM, students are able to make more connections between subject matter learned in their classes and have even proven to excel, primarily in mathematics. Why are schools implementing STEM? Schools are looking towards STEM as there are projections that the Australian workforce will require approximately 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs by 2018. The best part of STEM-related careers is that not all STEM jobs require a higher education, making this area extremely attractive for future citizens. According to the National Science Foundation, “Education at all levels in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – STEM – develops, preserves, and

disseminates knowledge and skills that convey personal, economic, and social benefits. Higher education provides the advanced work skills needed in an increasingly knowledge-intensive, innovationfocused economy and society”. How to implement STEM? The best way to implement STEM at your school is to use Blended Learning. Blended Learning is the pedagogy of using a range of tools in the classroom. A program with clear and concise outcomes that is co-created by teaching staff in all four faculties (of science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is necessary for STEM to be successful. Blended Learning

Blended Learning integrates STEM.

also permits students to integrate their skills and knowledge into curating content that will support the overall learning program. It also provides the opportunity for students to learn independently from their teacher and can allow teachers to monitor their students’ progress more closely than traditional methods. STEM for Girls Much of the STEM curriculum is aimed toward attracting underrepresented populations. Female students, for example, are significantly less likely to pursue careers in any of these four key learning areas. Though this fact is nothing new, the gap is actually increasing at a significant rate. Male students are also more likely to pursue engineering and technology fields, while female students prefer science fields like biology, chemistry, and marine biology. Overall, male students are three times more likely than females to be interested in pursuing a career in STEM. Noelene is a teacher of technology at Rooty Hill High School, a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator, and a Counsellor of The Teachers’ Guild of New South Wales.

screen shots Literacy — features videos and games to help students improve their spelling. — animated stories from Central Arnhem Land and an interactive map. — games and worksheets to help with spelling, grammar and punctuation.


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professional development conferences




Up to 40 educators gathered in Sydney for Australia’s first ever Teach-a-thon.

November 2015

Association focus The Social Educators’ Association of Queensland (SEAQ)

Timely teach-a-thon chelsea attard IN an Australian first, a group of 40 educators have joined instructional designers, developers, graphic designers and marketing experts for a unique professional development event for educators – dubbed a “Teach-a-thon”. The gathering was created to help participants navigate the relatively new world of MOOCs and learn to create their own. The two-day event was run by OpenLearning Australia in Sydney, and was free of charge for teachers. “One of the barriers we have found in bringing more educators into online learning is a fear of the unknown,” Adam Brimo, OpenLearning Australia co-founder and CEO says. “Some of the most prolific educators we have reached out to have never run online courses and we want to show them how

MOOCs and social learning are different to traditional eLearning courses delivered on a learning management system,” he adds. Brooke Hahn, chief learning officer at OpenLearning and coordinator of the event, says those who attended enjoyed a balanced learning experience. “They kind of got a blend of technology and also teaching philosophy. So OpenLearning, as a platform is actually based on a specific kind of teaching philosophy which is on student empowerment, active learning and meaningful learning for students, and also learning through a community,” Hahn says. Participants learnt the basics of how to set up a profile on OpenLearning, how to create a course, how to structure the course content, different types of activities, and then how to implement those in the platform. Teachers were also allowed

plenty of time to work on their own personal MOOCs. “There was a bit of a blend of interests at the Teach-a-thon. “I think there are some [teachers] that are well on their way to getting theirs completed, some were interested in just finding out more and started building courses on the weekend. “But I think there’s definitely a few that are going back and chatting with their workplaces, their schools, as to how they can best use OpenLearning.” Hahn says based on an anonymous feedback form, which was circulated at the end of the event, there were many happy educators on their way back to schools. “They were all really positive … they tended to really enjoy the mix of practical aspects of how to use the platform, but also the pedagogical principles behind it, and understanding that a little bit more.

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“Also in the two days, we sort of did a lot of group work and lots of independent coursework and more experiential learning things as well. “They really enjoyed those things, along with plenty of time to work on their own course but to also have us there to help,” she adds. Tal Greengard, an online learning designer at the Association of Independent Schools NSW, says the course gave him a lot to think about and helped him understand the philosophy and rationale behind the platform. “I’m glad I did it,” he says. Nicholina McKenna, a primary school teacher, described the weekend as an amazing experience and would says love to attend any sessions in the future. Hahn says given there is significant interest in a second Teach-athon event, OpenLearning can’t wait to run another event soon.

THE Social Educators’ Association of Queensland (SEAQ) is the state professional body for social educators and community members interested in advancing social education in Queensland. SEAQ focusses on the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship and the three Cross-curriculum Priorities and General Capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, and Intercultural Understanding. SEAQ promotes the view that civics and citizenship can play a unifying role in the whole school curriculum by providing a platform for students to discuss social and environmental issues from disparate discipline perspectives. SEAQ considers this subject as fundamental to the achievement of the national goal in the 2008 Melbourne Declaration, “that all young Australians will become active and informed citizens”. SEAQ presents a variety of activities to encourage and advance the teaching and learning of social education in Queensland at all levels of education. Check out our website: or email us: Joy Kennedy, SEAQ president

Do you have a story to tell Professional Development? Email

professionaldevelopment 60 INBRIEF Ethnic schools striving for consistency australian Teacher • November 2015

ESASA PD events

Gleitzman dinner talk

CANBERRA - A group of enthusiastic educators in the ACT enjoyed a special literary dinner with bestselling author Morris Gleitzman in October. Gleitzman shared insights into his career over dinner, while also conducting a workshop the following day. The workshop offered practical advice to educators to enhance creative literacy and to stimulate creative activity among students.

Japanese workshop SYDNEY - Japanese teachers have gathered at the Japan Foundation Sydney for an AGM Workshop in October. The workshop, hosted by the Japanese Teachers’ Association of NSW, featured seminars on retaining and motivating students, teaching ‘the Ainu’ and making Japanese fun in the learning community.

STAWA Future Science PERTH - Science teachers in Western Australia are looking forward to STAWA Future Science 2015, to be held at Curtin University on December 4. The Science Teachers of Western Australia conference will run from 8am until 4.30pm, and welcomes members and non-members, lab technicians and student teachers. Email briefs to

Discover ways to more deeply link real-world science and engaging, handson activities with science pedagogy.

Create teaching resources, activities, and demonstrations based on cuttingedge science and research.

Visit the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Defence Academy, CSIRO and more for engaging presentations and interactive workshops

EDUCATORS from ethnic schools and language teachers alike can benefit from professional development opportunities provided by the Ethnic Schools Association of South Australia (ESASA). Some key priorities of the association include to promote and co-ordinate the teaching of languages, history, geography and cultures of ethnic communities, and to promote communication and co-operation with teachers, schools and institutions involved in languages teaching. Darryl Buchanan, the association’s business manager, says ESASA hosts a range of workshops throughout the year. “Generally it’s in the areas of classroom preparation, so it can be websites. “There’s one particular workshop we have on at the moment called Fun Language Games and Activities, [it could be] short courses on, say Autism Spectrum, so they’re topically-based,” he says. This year the association has also run workshops on the use of technology in language learning, behaviour management, as well as the National Curriculum and SACE. ESASA hosted their annual state conference in June. “We had 180 registrants come

Delegates gathered at a ESASA professional development event. along to Adelaide High School, and we had some keynote speakers in the morning, followed by workshops in the afternoon,” Buchanan says. “That was called Working Together in the Digital Age.” Another big event for the association is soon to take place in Adelaide’s city centre. “Because the purpose of ethnic schools is to maintain language and culture, we have a big event that’s part of Children’s Week,” Buchanan explains.

“So we had a street parade last year and there were about 700 students in cultural dress. “We had a street parade on a Saturday morning, from Hindmarsh Square to Victoria Square, the same thing’s planned this year on Saturday October 31, and then when they get to Victoria Square, there’s a two-hour cultural dance and singing concert,” he says. According to Buchanan, there are numerous benefits associated with linking ethnic schools

and language teachers together through a professional body. “I guess the benefit is the shared opportunity, because methodology in some ways, doesn’t change from school to school. “While the language does, the methodology is very similar, so this is an opportunity for the sharing of ideas, the coming together to look at the language curriculum structure that’s required, especially the new languages curriculum that’s come in, in the last 12 months. “So there’s that opportunity to make sure that we try and streamline the educational content of our programs to be more consistent across all of the schools,” he says. While ESASA caters for South Australian teachers, Buchanan says they are only one piece of the national puzzle. “Moving up from our association, there is the Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations, also known as Community Languages Australia. “While we are one piece of what’s happening here, there is a Victorian [branch], New South Wales, Queensland, ACT and Tasmanian to a lesser extent. “WA are having a re-vibrancy at the minute,” he says.

Fremantle Campus


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Notre Dame Service-learning Conference 2015 27-28 November To give is to receive: true service-learning Find out more: Fremantle

• Open to primary and secondary teachers across Australia. • Unpack science inquiry pedagogy and work with scientists to develop tailored resources for use in their classroom. • Flights and accomodation included for a single contribution of $385 – PLUS full scholarships available. APPLICATIONS CLOSE 6 NOVEMBER The STEM X Academy is a partnership between the Australian Science Teachers Association and Questacon.

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professionaldevelopment 61

PD sessions

Lunchtime learning shared

sarah duggan HAVING a truly enlightening lunchtime conversation is what “rocks” Jodie Vandepeer’s day. So she thought, ‘why not formalise casual staffroom chats and turn them into a string of insightful PD sessions?’ This is precisely what the English and art teacher, with the support of PD coordinator Matt Linn, has just established at Clare High School in South Australia, and her ‘lunchtime PD sessions’ are going from strength to strength. “So the idea is to invite somebody at lunchtime into the art room. And they choose one single image, which they deconstruct for 10 minutes, and then we have a professional discussion about it. “It’s to talk about things that you don’t normally talk about and see things from someone who has either a specialist knowledge of it or a real passion or both,” Vandepeer says. ���It’s quick, it’s sharp and it’s shiny because we only have 35 minutes for lunch. And it’s really to stimulate staff and get us out of our comfort zone and broaden our general knowledge,” she adds. Most recently the schools’ physics teacher Justin Lodge treated

Physics teacher Justin Lodge stimulated an in-depth discussion on robotics during a ‘lunchtime PD session’. his colleagues to a stimulating discussion on robots and what roles they might play in schools of the future. Having actually designed and constructed his own robot that can draw, Lodge shared his creation with the group before broader conversation ensued.

“We discussed a few things in terms of losing jobs and how it might look in the teaching profession in terms of bringing in sort of a telepresence robot...” Lodge shares. When it comes to building professional collaboration, Vandepeer hopes the staff-led sessions will be just the ticket. “We knew Justin did these amazing things, but we did not know enough about it because you just get so busy at school. We can teach all day and not see [a colleague], you know, for two weeks even. “So I’d really like for this to be something that reveals more about our colleagues. And just spiral the level of professional conversation that we have.” Next up on the programs’ PD agenda will be the topic of ancient DNA, a session to be delivered by a local genetic archaeologist. “We seem to have pretty interesting people lurking in Clare Valley, and one of them lives down in Auburn. She writes the narrative for Brian Sykes who is the professor at Oxford. “She is also going to give another one on her annual dig as an archaeologist at the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands,” Vandepeer enthuses.

November 2015 • australian Teacher


Cutting-edge ideas to be explored at the Future Science 2015 Conference SCIENCE teachers hungry to absorb the latest in research and lab technologies can expect to have all their PD cravings satiated at the Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia (STAWA) Future Science Conference this December. Due to be held within various newly re-developed spaces at Curtin University in Western Australia, the one-day event looks set to envelop delegates in the scientific world of the future. “Our main purpose is to try and enrich our teachers with the latest research and science that’s happening within universities and industry. That is also complemented with curriculum support, so any changes, any new content in syllabi so we can build strength in that space,” STAWA CEO John Clarke explains. A major drawcard for delegates will be the opportunity to gain access to exciting specialist spaces within the university that might otherwise be off-limits. “They’ve got an electron microscopy facility and X-ray diffraction, and we have just down the road, very close to the university, is the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and that will be a available for visits on the day as well. “It basically takes them into

The Future Science 2015 conference will immerse teachers in cuttingedge ideas. where the technology is that science is following,” Clarke says. Throughout the keynote address, 45-minute presentations and afternoon workshop sessions, the theme of sustainability will guide much of the discussion. “The reason we’re looking at sustainability is that it’s a core feature of the Australian Curriculum. But importantly, it’s been on the agenda within schools for many years now and the idea was to highlight to teachers where sustainability is today and the many aspects of sustainability,” Clarke says. With last year’s meet bringing together a record number of 350 scientifically-minded educators, STAWA aims to ensure that everybody’s needs will again be met this year.


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M = cost for members of host association, NM = cost for non-members.

NATIONAL Primary English teaching association Australia Teaching Knowledge For The Art and Craft of Writing November 5; 4:00pm 6:30pm; Emerald State School, Anakie Street, Emerald, QLD; M $95, NM $115;

Teaching and Learning Vocabulary in Context

November 18; 4:00pm - 6:30pm; St Columba’s Primary School, 24 Glenhuntly Road, Elwood; M $95, NM $115; info@

2016 Grammar and Teaching: A 12-week program

March 2 - April 5, 2016; 4:00pm - 6:00pm; Glenmore Park High School, Glenmore Parkway, NSW; M $496, NM $660;

Australian LIteracy Educators’ Association Literacy Mini-Conference: Junior Secondary and Literacy

November 7; 8:30am 3:00pm; Griffith University, Mt Gravatt Campus; M $150, NM $180; g.barton@ or meanjin.

Enhancing Inferential Comprehension

November 12; 4:00pm 6:00pm; St Monica’s North Parramatta, 10 Daking St, North Parramatta; M $20, NM $40; kferrari@parra.

Steiner Education Australia Choreocosmos- Eurythmybased workshops January 1 - 10, 2016; Michael Centre, Warranwood, Melbourne; Cost TBA; enquiries@

An Art of Education that uses the Curriculum in a Differentiated Way to Balance and Heal the Child January 10 - 15, 2016; Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School, 5A Glenroy Avenue, Middle Cove, NSW; Cost TBA; peggyd@glenaeon.

SEA Business Managers Meeting

May 5, 2016; Sophia Mundi Steiner School, St Mary’s Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford, VIC; Cost TBA; sea@

SEA Educational Leaders’ Forum

May 5, 2016; Sophia Mundi Steiner School, St Mary’s Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford, VIC; Cost TBA; sea@

SEA’s 9th Annual GLaM Conference (Governance, Leadership and Management) 2016

May 6 - 7, 2016; Sophia Mundi Steiner School, St Mary’s Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne, VIC; Cost TBA; sea@steinereducation.

SEA National Teachers’ Conference 2016

July 3 - 6, 2016; Orana Steiner School, Unwin Place, Canberra, ACT; Cost TBA; sea@

Kodaly Music Education Institute of Australia 2016 Summer Music Program January 3 - February 15, 2016; St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, 11 Ruthven St , Corinda, QLD; info@

The Beginning and Establishing Teachers’ Association (BETA) Spirit of Learning Conference April 30 - May 1, 2016; Location TBA; M/NM $440;

The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER)Australia 2017 ACHPER International Conference January 16 - 18, 2017; University of Canberra, University Dr, Bruce, ACT; Cost TBA; custserv@achper.

ACT the association of independent schools of the act AISACT Leadership Breakfast October 29; 7:30am 8:30am; Conservatory Restaurant, National Arboretum; M $27.5, NM $55; kath.morwitch@ais. or president@

NSW The Association of Independent Schools New South Wales A Strategic Approach to Human Resource Planning - Staff Recruitment October 29; 9:00am 4:30pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $295, NM $395; admin@aisnsw.

AIS Institute Launch

October 29; 7:00am 9:00am; Westin Hotel Ballroom, 1 Martin Place, GPO Building, Sydney; Free event; admin@aisnsw.

Consultation Meeting for Schools on the Steps Agreement – Options for 2017

November 6; 3:15pm 5:30pm; Calrossy Anglican School, 242 Moore Creek Road, North Tamworth; Free event; admin@aisnsw.

Best Practice in Education - A Drug and Alcohol Focus

November 9 - 10; 9:00am - 3:00pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $450, NM $600; admin@aisnsw.

Consultation Meeting for Schools on the Steps Agreement – Options for 2017

November 10; 3:15pm 5:30pm; Trinity Anglican College, 421 Elizabeth Mitchell Drive, Thurgoona; Free event; admin@aisnsw.

Exploring the Edge: Looking Beyond the Rim

November 13; 9:00am 3:30pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $225, NM $300; admin@aisnsw.

Building a Growth Mindset November 13 - December 24; Online event; M $225, NM $300; admin@aisnsw.

Human Resource Planning – Induction, Staff Development and Performance

November 16; 9:00am 4:30pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $295, NM $395; admin@aisnsw.

The AIS Experienced Teacher Conference 2015 2015 Action Research Pilot Project November 17; 10:00am - 3:30pm; Macarthur Anglican School, 605 Cobbitty Road, Cobbitty; Free event;

Consultation Meeting for Schools on the Steps Agreement – Options for 2017

November 19; 3:15pm 5:30pm; The Scots School Bathurst, Oberon Road, Bathurst; Free event;

Analysing Business Performance

November 23; 9:00am 4:30pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $485, NM $585; admin@aisnsw.

Steiner Education Australia Conference 2016 August 19, 2016; 8:45am 4:30pm; Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School, 5a Glenroy Avenue, Middle Cove; M $590 (members only);

The Geography Teachers Association of New South Wales GTA NSW Annual Conference: Sustainable futures — our place, our future

November 5; 9:00am 4:00pm; Novotel Central, 169 - 179 Thomas Street, Sydney; M $260, NM $300;

Science Teachers’ Association of New South Wales Inc Middle Career Teachers’ Course 2015

November 13; Kincoppal School, New South Head Rd, Rose Bay; M $380, NM $580;

English Teachers’ Association of NSW ETA State Conference Curiouser and Curiouser Novermber 20 - 21; University of NSW, Kensington; M $425, NM $550; admin@

QLD The English Teachers Association of Queensland Inc. Grammar Day in Townsville

October 31; 8:40am 2:15pm; Town High School, Townsville; M/NM $25;

Queensland Association of State School Principals

Lift People: Lift Performance - Aligning People to Succeed

November 4; 7:30am; Online event; M $55, NM $65;

Independent schools Queensland Independent Schools Governance Program Short Course 4 November 6; 8:30am 4:30pm; 5/500 Queen St, Brisbane; M $520, NM $1020; jyoung@isq.qld.

Queensland Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Twilight Cultural PD Event

November 6; 5.00pm 7.00pm; Resource Centre, Balmoral State High School, Thynne Road, Morningside; M/NM $30; admin@

QLD Curriculum & Assessment Authority Feedback to inform teaching and learning November 12; 9:00am 3:00pm; Rockhampton Leagues Club, Browne Park, Cambridge Street, Rockhampton; M/NM $160; events@qcaa.qld.

Modern Language Teachers’ Association of Queensland MLTAQ 2015 Spanish Symposium

November 13; Griffith University Queensland South Bank Campus, 226 Grey St, Brisbane; M/ NM $60; president@mltaq.

Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland Workshop: Teaching Music Students from Diverse Ethnic and Religious Backgrounds: Crosscultural Considerations for Studio Music Teachers November 15; 2:00pm; MTAQ Inc Auditorium, Taringa Centre, 200 Moggill Road, Taringa; M $31, NM $52;

Workshop - Preparing students for AMEB Exams - what do examiners expect?

November 29; 2pm; MTAQ Inc Auditorium, Taringa Centre, 200 Moggill Road, Taringa; M $31, NM $52;

Science teachers association of Queensland Senior Science Conference

November 27; 8:00am; QUT Gardens Point, 2 George Street, Brisbane; M $150, NM $190; staq@staq.

Business Educators’ Association of Queensland BEAQ Professional Development Day - The Changing Face of Business Education

December 9; 8:00am 2:45pm; Easts Leagues Club, 40 Main Ave, Coorparoo; M $121, NM $154; enquire@beaq.

Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia Queensland National Kodaly

conference Shared Identities

September 26 - 29, 2016; Venue TBA; Cost TBA; info@kmeiaqueensland.

SA Kodaly Music education Institute of Australia (SA) Term 4 Workshop — Update Your Learning October 31; 8:45am - 1:00pm; Pulteney Grammar School, 190 South Tce, Adelaide; M $65, NM $35; kodalysa@

The SA Science Teachers Association Physics Exam Post Mortem November 3; 6:30pm; Prince Alfred College, 23 Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town; Free event; office@

Biology Exam Post Mortem Session

November 9; 6:30pm; Senior School Building, Immanuel College, 32 Morphett Road, Novar Gardens; Free event;

Chemistry Exam Post Mortem

November 11; 6:00pm; Nazareth Catholic College - Secondary Campus, 1 Hartley Road, Flinders Park; Free event; office@sasta.

Investigating Biological Sciences: Years 8 – 10

November 20; 9:00am - 3:00pm; Education Development Centre, Milner Street, Hindmarsh; M $120, NM $180; office@

STEM Middle School (6-10) Conference 2015

November 27; 8:30am 4:30pm; Nazareth Catholic College Secondary Campus, 1 Hartley Road, Flinders Park; M $125, NM $180;

Australian College of Educators (SA) ACE Education on the Square: Critical issues in Early Childhood Education November 4; 5:30pm - 6:30 pm; Flinders University City Campus, Level 1, Corner Flinders Street & Victoria Square; Bedford Park; Cost TBA;

The Association of Independent Schools of South Australia Reading is a Thinking Process (Years 3-6) November 5; 9:00am 3:30pm; AISSA Meeting Room; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher St) Malvern; M/NM $130; crosss@ais.

Teaching Writers in the Early Years (F-3)

November 6; 9:00am 3:30pm; AISSA Meeting Room; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher St) Malvern; M/NM $130; crosss@ais.

Vocational Education Coordinators PD & Network Day

November 9; 8:45am - 5:30pm; University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide; Cost TBA;

Literacy and Numeracy: Inclusion and Diversity in

the Early Years

November 12; 9:00am 3:30pm; AISSA Meeting Room; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher St) Malvern; M/NM $130; crosss@ais.

Duty of Care

November 16; 4:00pm 5:30pm; AISSA Boardroom, 301 Unley Road, Malvern; Free event; puckridgeh@

OSHC Implementation Group

November 16; 10:00am 12:00pm; AISSA Meeting Room; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher St) Malvern; Free event; crosss@ais.

Early Childhood Implementation Group Term 4 November 23; 4:00pm 6:00pm; AISSA Meeting Room; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher St) Malvern; Free event; crosss@ais.

South Australian Philosophy in Education Association SAPEA Philosophy in the Pub: Values and Character Education November 11; 7:00pm; The British Hotel, 58 Finniss Street, North Adelaide; Cost TBA; Martyn.Mills-Bayne@


November 11; 6:00pm 9:00pm; Hallet Cove R-2 School, 2-32 Gledsdale Rd, Hallett Cove; M Free, NM $25; au or JPhillips@rostrevor.

Business & Enterprise Teachers Association of SA Inc. (BETA) BETA Accounting Exam Debrief

November 16; 5:00pm; Hackney Hotel, 95 Hackney Road, Hackney; M Free, NM Cost TBA; betasainc@

The Ethnic Schools Association of South Australia Inc. (ESA) Fun Language Games to Support Student Engagement workshop November 18; 6:00pm - 8:00pm; School of Languages, 255 Torrens Road West Croydon; M/NM $10; Joanna. au.

The Outdoor Educators’ Association of SA PD Workshop

November 20; 6:30pm; the Red Centre McBride Room, Prince Alfred College, 23 Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town; M/NM Free; oeasa.

ACHPER SA 2015 Secondary Conference

November 30 - December 1; Australian Science and Mathematics School, Flinders University, Sturt Rd, Bedford Park; Cost TBA;

The Council of Education Associations of South Australia CEASA Council Meeting December 2; 5:30pm

- 9:00pm; Education Development Centre, Milner Street, Hindmarsh; Cost TBA; simon.

TAS Tasmanian History Teachers’ Association and Tasmanian Association for the Teaching of English The Power of Words: Letters from the Holocaust & Fact through Fiction: Exploring Historical Fiction November 14; 10:00am 12:15pm; Student Centre, Ogilvie High School, 228 New Town Road, New Town; M $30,NM $50; jacinta.butler@education.

VIC History Teachers’ Association of Vic Solving the Crowded Curriculum in the New AusVELS 7-10

October 29; 9:30am 2:30pm; The Hamilton and Alexandra College Senior Campus, 1 Chaucer Street, Hamilton; M/NM $66;

New Senior History Courses 2016

November 25; 1.00pm - 4.05pm; Camberwell Girls Grammar School, 2 Torrington Street, Canterbury; M $90, NM $140;

Digging Deeper into Victorian Collections

December 4; 9:00am - 4:00pm; Shrine of Remembrance, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Museum; M/NM $95; chocking@

Assoc Of Independent Schools Victoria Differentiating the Languages Curriculum November 5; 9:30am - 3:30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $198, NM $346.50; enquiries@

HR Managers Network Meeting

November 5; 2:00pm - 4:00pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; Free event; enquiries@is.vic.

Managing Operational Improvement for Principals

3D Lab – Design, Manufacture, Create

November 12; 9:00am - 3:30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $198, NM $346.50; enquiries@

Evidence – Conversations with Colleagues in the Context of Performance and Development November 12; 9:30am - 3.30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $198, NM $346.5; enquiries@

Extracting, Understanding and Using NAPLAN Data November 13; 9:00am - 12.00pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $130.50, NM $229.50;

Find out more about… The Reggio Emilia Educational Project

November 19; 4:00pm - 6.00pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $25, NM $25; enquiries@is.vic.

Feedback – Conversations with Colleagues in the Context of Performance and Development November 23; 9:30am - 3.30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $198, NM $346.5; enquiries@

Find out more about… Free Adobe Apps that Complement what you already own

November 23; 9:30am - 3.30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $25, NM $25; enquiries@is.vic.

Kodaly Music Education Institute of Australia (VIC) Big Kodaly Day- Music in the Early Years (Prep to Year 4) November 14; 9:00am - 3:00pm; Kilvington Grammar School, Lilimur Rd, Ormond; Free event;

Victorian Commercial Teachers Association Comview - VCTA’s Annual Conference November 23 - 24; Victoria University, Flinders St, Melbourne; Cost TBA;

November 6 - 16; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $1,260 (Member schools only); enquiries@is.vic.

ACHPER (VIC) ACHPER Conference 2015

Using iPads to Stimulate Learning in English Classrooms


Great Partnerships – The How-To Guide for Developing Arts Partnerships and Residency-Based Approaches

October 29; 9:00am 3:00pm; AISWA Seminar Room, 41 Walters Drive, Osbourne Park; M/NM $140;

November 6; 9:00am - 3:30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $198, NM $346.50; enquiries@

November 9; 9:30am - 3:30pm; ISV Seminar Room, 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $270, NM $423; enquiries@is.vic.

November 26 - 27; Monash University, Clayton; Cost TBA; achper@achper.vic.

Assoc of Independent Schools of Western australia Sharp Reading Comprehension Strategy Instruction (CSI)

Igniting Higher Order Thinking

October 30 & November 13; 9:00am - 3:30pm; AISWA Seminar Room, 41 Walters Drive, Osbourne Park; M/NM $300;

Australian Teacher Magazine is proud to support state, territory and national education sector associations. Workshops, professional development sessions and conferences can be listed free of charge in the printed magazine and digital editions. Submit your noticeboard listing by sending details of the event, including dates, venue, time, cost and contact email address to Each month we also feature event previews, reviews and association news. If you have a story for our Professional Development section, email and the team will be in touch.

around the traps 63

November 2015 • australian Teacher

Teacher duo rock the stage

Futsal champ is on the ball

HUSBAND and wife teachers Tanya and Matt Fischer might be totally committed to their students by day, but by night their other passion takes over – making great music. Tanya is head teacher of maths at South Grafton High School, while Matt is the head of Creative and Performing Arts at Maclean High, and having recently taken out the rock category in the North Coast Entertainment Industry Association Dolphin Awards it’s clear the pair are as excellent on stage as they are in the classroom. “We’ve been playing together for about 19 years,” Tanya says. “We formed a band about 15 years ago and then that morphed into us as a duo – called Psychedelic Goldfish, but our real passion, was writing and recording our own music. “Matt’s very good at getting rock songs happening, he does the melody and the music, and because he plays so many different instruments he can usually lay quite a few of the instruments down,” Tanya says. “It works well, because later I’ll come along and write the lyrics and sort the vocals.” For Tanya particularly, her alter-

A RECENT futsal tour to China has given Ipswich teacher Annie Leyland a taste of what it might be like to be Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. A member of the Atletico Brisbane team in the Australian national league, the Silkstone State School Year 3 teacher says the inaugural International City Futsal competition in Jiangmen, involving teams from the Asia Pacific region, was crazy fun and something she’ll never forget. “It was amazing. It started with a large opening ceremony with live TV broadcast right around China, there were cameras everywhere, and we played the opening game which was also broadcast live. “It was a real eye-opener – it’s just such a world that we’re unfamiliar with, you’re not used to that type of attention.” Leyland says a major highlight was the amount of younger girls on the sideline ‘just looking at you and you could see them just wanting to be out there and wanting to be like you’. “They’d come up at the end of games and give you a pen and a shirt and just sit there in awe because they couldn’t speak to you really.” The team excelled in the event

Matt and Tanya Fischer, centre, with their Dolphin Award. ego as a local rock star would be news to her students. “A lot of them don’t realise I’m a musician...” she laughs. “We had a song, Hot Blooded Woman, that was played on the radio a couple of summers ago, but because none of the kids knew our band name, they didn’t know it was my song.” While Matt and Tanya love their extra-curricular pursuit, Tanya says performing at school is a rarity, and only occasionally will she sing at an end-of-year speech night as a cameo.

“I’m a teacher for a reason ... it’s not about ‘look at me, look at what I do’. “I don’t want to be in the spotlight, I feel I’m very much here to showcase them.” Tanya tries to instil a love of music in her students. “We do something called ‘Starsearch’[at school] ... where kids audition for weeks and then after some judging, the finalists perform at a gala evening. “I am usually a judge and/or mentor for that and help with the sound,” she says.

and remained undefeated for the entire competition. Leyland’s trip also involved representing Australia at the US Nationals and on tour in America. Having represented her country for the first time she says she’s always trying to find ways of linking her own sporting success to that of her students. “I run a lunchtime soccer skills session on the oval, alternating days for junior and senior school students. “And when it comes around to interschool sports, I take the junior and senior boys and coach them for that as well – and this year they were runners-up in their competition, so that was great.” Things don’t look like quietening down for Leyland anytime soon. The young educator has been approached by the Australian Futsal Association to be the head coach of the Australian Youth Women’s side on a tour at the end of this year to Spain and the UK.

Slattery’s outback adventure WHILE her colleagues were busy plotting tropical escapes for their school holidays, teacher Julie Slattery was facing a rather more intense itinerary. Keen to put her body to the test, the educator from St Kevin’s College in Melbourne signed up to complete a gruelling 1300km bike ride through outback Queensland – a venture which, aside from obvious physical challenges, proved to be a big eye-opener. “A lot of people were going off to Palm Cove and various other lovely resorts, and I booked this ride in outback Queensland,” Slattery says.

“I thought it was an opportunity to look at a different landscape ... so I decided to take the plunge and sign up for what was going to be a very challenging experience.” Spurred on by numerous chocolate milkshakes and well-earned massages in the small towns they passed, Slattery says the epic journey has given her a new insight into just how tough life can be in the outback. “It was very, very dry. It was incredibly dry, so they’ve been in drought for a couple of years now and just to see the vastness of the countryside, that burnt brown colour, it was quite disheartening.

“At night sometimes we would go to the local pub and have a talk with the locals about what was happening with the drought and other situations,” she reflects. Despite pedalling for up to 130 kilometres each day, being buffered by monstrous road trains and dodging road kill, the educator says there were much bigger obstacles to push through. “I guess from the camping perspective, that was challenging for me because I’m probably not the best camper! So putting up the little pop-up tent every night after a day in the saddle was challenging. “Often there wouldn’t be any

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Julie Slattery embarked on a 1300km bike ride through outback Queensland.

showers and we’d sort of be camping in the middle of nowhere!” she laughs. With a dental problem sadly

cutting the journey short at the 700km mark, Slattery admits she now has “unfinished business” in the country’s parched north.

inthestaffroom 64 australian Teacher • November 2015

trivia In terms of scholarships, what do Malcolm Turnbull (MT) and Tony Abbott have in common?

one point

How old was MT when his mum and dad separated? Which affluent inner-Sydney seat does MT represent?

What’s MT’s middle name? What was the numbers result of the recent Liberal leadership ballot won by MT?

How does MT feel about same-sex marriage?





9 10 13 15 18 19 20

Which rugby league team does MT (sort of) support?

three points

What ministry did MT briefly hold in 2007 in the Howard Liberal Government?




What was the popular name of the famous 1986 MI5 trial won by MT?

What are MT’s children’s names?

True or false? MT studied at Cambridge University.


MT lost the Liberal leadership back in 2009. Why?

What number Australian Prime Minister is MT?

Between 2003 and 2004, MT’s wife Lucy was the first woman to hold what position in Sydney?

Chewbacca’s voice is a blend of bear, lion, walrus, and _ vocalisations. (6) A scuba _ was used for the sound of Darth Vader’s laboured breathing. (9) Han Solo’s tall, dark and handsome buddy is _. (9) Widely considered the most annoying character of all Star Wars films, Jar Jar _. (5) Luke Skywalker was originally going to be named Luke _. (10) Played Anakin in Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones, Hayden _. (11) American director JJ _ , who directed movies Armageddon and Cloverfield, will helm the upcoming new Star Wars film. (6) Star Wars creator George _ also directed 1973 coming-of-age film, American Graffiti. (5) Portrayed by Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid is Star Wars protagonist Emperor _. (9) British actor Sir Alec _ starred as Obi-WanKenobi. (7)

MT is a distant cousin of which British film and TV actress?

3 5 7 8 11 12 14 16 17

Yoda was a legendary Jedi Master who lived in a swamp on the planet _. (7) Star Wars holds a Guinness World Record for the “Most successful film _ franchise”. (13) James Earl _ provided the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.(5) The newest film in the series is titled Star Wars EpisodeVII: The Force _. (7) Most people think C3PO’s exterior is totally golden, but from his right knee down is _. (6) The new Star Wars film is set 30 years after the events of _ Of The Jedi. (6) The phrase “I have a bad _ about this” is said in every film. (7) The first Star Wars movie was called Star Wars: Episode IV - A New _. (4) Yoda was originally named ‘_’, which was completely changed to ‘Minch Yoda’, and then eventually shortened to just ‘Yoda’. (5) Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader has been played by _ different people. (3)

turn to page 65 for all solutions and answers

skill level: hard

zoom zoom zoom... We’ve played with the zoom... This home, whilst pretty amazing, is still a step down from new PM Turnbull’s own residence.

five points

careers career news




retirements 67

Olivia O’Neill, left, at the World Congress of Principals’ Convention in Finland.


Strong Scandinavian links THE opportunity to travel to Helsinki to attend the World Congress of Principals’ Convention has allowed one South Australian principal to not only learn lots of valuable information, but also consolidate her school’s partnership with three Finnish schools. Olivia O’Neill from Brighton Secondary School spent a week in the Scandinavian country during Term 3, and made time to visit her partner schools and speak with the educators personally. This further consolidated the relationship initiated by one of the school’s teachers, Maj-Lis Borgen-Smith, who travelled home to Scandinavia last Christmas and met with the schools then. “We sent her off to 12 schools in Norway, Sweden and Finland with a letter of introduction ... and she

was able to get to 12 schools, which was wonderful for her to do on her holidays for us,” O’Neill shares. “Then we knew that I was going to be going to this conference so from those conversations, I then followed up in person with schools there at the conference and that firmed up our relationship with a school in Stockholm, a school in Oslo and a school in Finland.” The main goal of these partnerships is to open the door for teacher exchange. “We were impressed with what we heard about their education system, certainly at the conference I thought it became very clear that the Finnish system has those elements we’d like. They include more school autonomy, more trust in the leadership, less

test-based accountability, less competition and standardisation and more collaboration, more creativity, more professionalism and more equity,” O’Neill shares. Given Finland’s ranking of number one in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests, O’Neill says she didn’t expect to find many Finnish schools sharing the same concerns that she experiences as an Australian principal. She found there seemed to be a movement towards product-based learning, especially to engage boys, as well as concerns on the part of schools about their time spent on Facebook and in sedentary activities. “The Facebook thing didn’t surprise me because kids are kids, but it seemed to me that if they’re doing so well and they’re high achievers, then so too will the


Both Rhodes Scholars; Bligh; Turnbull 54, Abbott 44; Lord Mayor; False, studied at Oxford. Nine years old; Wentworth; he’s the 29th; Daisy and Alex; he supports it. Angela Lansbury; because of his support for an emissions trading scheme; the Spycatcher case; Sydney City Roosters; Minister for the Environment and Water.




Kirribilli House

boys be, but it was interesting there were issues with the boys engaging with school.” Upon returning to school, O’Neill learned she’d been nominated as a finalist in the SA Public Teaching Awards for Excellence in Leadership and at the award ceremony in September, she was named the winner for her category. While she was thrilled to receive the award, she was also quick to acknowledge her school community. “A leader can only be recognised for something like this because of the calibre of the organisation that they lead and I think it goes to the depth of leadership across the school that we’ve developed and the quality of the leaders that we have here,” she says. “I’m very pleased and proud but I know this is a reflection of something much bigger than I.”


LEADERSHIP Do you have a story to tell Careers? Email the details to To place an ad, contact

careers 66 australian Teacher • November 2015

APPOINTMENT The school community at Mullaloo Heights Primary School have welcomed new deputy principal Michael Adlam this term. Adlam is already familiar to many, being a parent of students at the school. Principal Caroline Booth says the team are excited about their new addition. “He will certainly bring key attributes, skills and experience to our school,” she wrote in the school newsletter.

RETIREMENT The Healesville Primary School community has said goodbye to business manager Sandra Rowe. According to the school newsletter, Rowe has worked at HPS for an impressive 30 years and been a valuable member of staff and will be missed by all. “Good luck in retirement and most of all enjoy being a grandmother,” principal Cameron Heath writes.

APPOINTMENT North Beach Primary School has a new principal in Term 4, with Penny Halleen, former principal at Wanneroo Primary School joining the ranks. Before her arrival, Halleen introduced herself in the school newsletter. “I have heard many wonderful things about your school especially the commitment of everyone in the community to your motto of ‘We Care’,” she writes.

repeat award success

Lunn championing life skills HAVING enjoyed an accomplished career as a chef spanning decades and continents, Stephen Lunn jumped from the frying pan into the fire when he took on his first role teaching high school students in Tasmania. The VET teacher had already trained many young apprentices when he took on a role at Guildford Young College, but even so, he admits it was a steep learning curve to begin with. “So with an apprentice, they had a clear idea of what they were doing, they were an apprentice chef, that was their career,” Lunn tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “Whereas at a college, the kids are still unsure of what they want to do, and there’s all that emotion, they’re changing, and the boyfriend/girlfriend factor. “I walked in showing no fear, but absolutely flying blind as to [how] all of that went. [But] as far as the cooking goes, I had no problem with that,” he recalls. Indeed it didn’t take long for Lunn to really get cooking with his students, and his most recent accolade, being named VET Teacher of the Year at the 2015 Tasmanian Training Awards, is evidence of his success. “That’s the second time I’ve won that, so I won it in 2011. But this

Stephen Lunn, left, has been named Tasmanian VET Teacher of the Year for a second time. was a bit of a surprise, it was a big field and you always have a chance, but I didn’t think I’d win ... It was a nice surprise,” Lunn says of the award. Lunn teaches Certificate I and II in hospitality, RSA and barista courses, as well as a cooking essentials class. “[Cooking essentials] is basically giving life skills to those students who are academically-minded, and want to have a bit of a break,” he says.

Lunn hopes when students in this class head off to university, they know more than how to boil a packet of two-minute noodles. “It’s all about healthy eating,” he says. “I have no issues if they want to make simple things like burgers, but what I do is I make them make everything. So they have to make their own bread rolls, they have to do everything. “If they want to make two-minute noodles, we’re making our own noodles. It shows them that some things are really easy to do, you don’t actually have to spend a lot of time making nutritious meals.” As passionate about teaching as he is about his culinary craft, Lunn continues to champion VET in schools. “There’s been a lot of talk about VET in schools being a white elephant, which is the wrong message we’re sending out. “We need to be sending out a message that it’s a great pathway ... ‘cause it can set them up and it can put them on the right career path ... this is a great way for students to learn their basic skills, which helps them become very valuable to an employer. “So my message is support your VET schools, and really spend the time on those programs and they will reward themselves.”

RETIREMENT Garry Montgomery, principal of St Mark’s Catholic Primary School in Brisbane will retire at the end of this year, after eight years as principal. Montgomery has written about his retirement in the school newsletter. “My time has been a truly satisfying one, highlighted by the people ... that I work with, and for, each day,” the principal writes.

QUALIFICATION The West Australian Department of Education has been running an Aboriginal languages teacher training course since 1998, training people who speak Aboriginal languages. This year, seven graduate teachers celebrated their graduation from the course at a special presentation. These graduates are now qualified to teach Noongar, Yawuru, Bardi, Wajarri, Ngadju languages in schools.

APPOINTMENT An experienced local principal has been appointed to head the new lower north shore primary school, which opens in New South Wales next year. Unity Taylor-Hill, who was until recently principal at Killara Public School, has now started in the role, and is working out of the temporary school site at Crows Nest TAFE until the new school in Anzac Avenue, Cammeray is completed.

careers 67

November 2015 • australian Teacher

agriculture focus

James’ knowledge journey

sarah duggan WHILE for most educators the summer holidays promise lazy, sun-drenched days filled with easy reads and chilled beverages, for Charlie James his real work will have just begun. The agriculture teacher from Singleton High School is on a quest to change the very nature of agricultural education in Australia. And so, as one of 19 successful applicants to be awarded a NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarship, in January he will be embarking on a five-week study tour of the US. James hopes the trip will allow him to investigate various vocational programs that our schools might look at adopting. “At the moment what I’m interested in is just to see how schools in America deliver their VET subjects ... I want to see how the farmers over there support students on work placements and also to see what is offered for students after they study agriculture, especially those students who might not go to university,” James shares. Having grown up in Zimbabwe, the educator says his passion for the subject runs deep. “I grew up on a farm, so we were aware that we wanted to be involved in the production of food

Charlie James is off on a five-week study tour of the United States. and looking after animals. So when I finished high school I went to university there to study agriculture. When I came to Australia I thought I may as well go to university and re-train as an agriculture teacher,” he reflects. “Agriculture stays with you for life ... everybody relies on agriculture, the clothes we wear, the food we eat comes from farming. So if we destroy our land and if we don’t look after it, then nothing good will come for this country.” James says there has never been a more crucial time for schools to encourage students towards pursuing a career within the agricultural sector. “Most farmers are close to their retirement age and we will have a lot of problems ... because if all the farmers retire, then instead of producing our food, Australia will

be relying on importing stuff from China and ... other countries. “Also, I’ve done a lot of travelling in Queensland visiting farmers up there, and I’ve noticed that most farmers are relying on backpacker employment.” After visiting schools in New York, LA, Vermont, Colorado and Massachusetts, James will return to Singleton High to share his new bounty of knowledge. “I will present my findings to executives and staff at my school during our professional development, and also being a member of the NSW Agricultural Teachers’ Association, I will present them with my report which they can put in their magazine.” But it won’t stop there – James says he has bigger plans in the pipeline. “My aim, my wish, is just to see that all the big industries, for example the mining industry, I would like them to really support agriculture in schools.” In the meantime the determined teacher will continue to show his students the fascinating opportunities to be explored within modern agriculture. “Agriculture is not just about doing farm labour, you can end up being an agricultural scientist or a soil scientist,” he says.

first year out FROM being crowned Western Australia’s Rural Ambassador of the year to launching her teaching career at St Lawrence’s Bluff Point, it’s fair to say 2015 has been an eventful year for Jess Warr. The dynamic Year 1 teacher tells Australian Teacher Magazine why she is made for the profession and reflects on some of the more thorny situations she has faced thus far. I LEFT school in 2008 and was offered a Rotary Youth Exchange scholarship to Switzerland for my first year out, so I travelled and lived in Switzerland and went back to school and learnt the German language and lived with different families, so that was really exciting. After a year of my exchange ... I started studying early childhood teaching at Notre Dame University in Fremantle. My first prac I was with pre-primary and I just really enjoyed it. With early childhood you are very busy and so engaged and there’s so much learning going on – there’s so many opportunities to help the children. We had a lot of pracs compared to the other universities and I think it’s extremely beneficial. It really shaped my experience of teaching and my experience in the classroom, especially for my final prac; I actually did it at the school where I was then given a position. So I was really fortunate to be able to get my foot in the door. It’s been a huge year, there are so

many scenarios that happen in the classroom, and with different family situations, nothing will prepare you for it ... it’s been overwhelming and daunting, but it’s definitely such an amazing learning experience. I’ve really enjoyed being able to try so many different strategies. Having all those opportunities to attend PD and just kind of build on your knowledge is really beneficial. I’ve had fantastic support in the classroom and around the school. We’re really lucky, it’s a beautiful school. Some of the biggest highlights have been seeing the progress that the children have made. Coming from preprimary it was a massive transition (for the students) ... they had a really slow start academically, and now we’re in Term 3 we’re seeing a lot of progress and I’m really enjoying that. I think trying to justify to parents the reasons why you would like to do something has been very challenging ... and sometimes you are never really prepared for the things they ask of you. Every day I’m learning so much.

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careerslearning 68 australian Teacher • November 2015

INBRIEF Assessment masters hugely relevant new acu course

Shot in arm for STEM

SYDNEY - The University of Sydney’s Pave the Way fundraising initiative has received a $1 million gift from Roger Massy-Greene and his wife, Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson to improve science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) teaching in disadvantaged schools. The gift will also provide scholarships to attract graduates to the Master of Teaching program.

Williams-Weir honour MELBOURNE - The University of Melbourne is celebrating the achievements of alumna, Aboriginal advocate Dr Margaret Williams-Weir with the naming of a prestigious fellowship and a valued student space in her honour. Williams-Weir is the first Aboriginal graduate of the University of Melbourne and the first Aboriginal graduate of any Australian university.

UC and ANU combine CANBERRA - The University of Canberra and the Australian National University have joined forces to help students kick-start their careers in science teaching. Starting from 2016, the two unis will offer a vertical double degree for science teaching, combining a Bachelor of Science from ANU with a Master of Teaching from UC. Email briefs to

CHELSEA ATTARD A UNIQUE masters program which began at Australian Catholic University (ACU) this year has offered Jackie Dunk and her peers an opportunity to zero in on the important area of assessment. Dunk spent a good deal of time hunting for the perfect masters program before discovering the Master of Educational Assessment at ACU. Having previously worked as a secondary social sciences teacher before taking on the role of senior education officer at the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Dunk was keen to further her education to enhance the work she does with schools. “My job is assessment, that’s what I do ... I really wanted to do a masters program that would facilitate the work I do with teachers,” Dunk explains. “I spent quite a bit of time researching various masters programs that were available. A lot of them specialise in educational leadership or vocational education or technology or guidance. “Very few actually specialised in assessment, and there was only one ... online and that was the ACU masters program,” she adds. With the course being brand

Jackie Dunk’s search for the perfect masters course led her to the Master of Educational Assessment at ACU. new, Dunk says it’s a small student cohort of just five, three being classroom teachers. For teachers wanting to improve their understanding and delivery of assessment in the classroom, Dunk says the course is incredibly relevant. “What’s emerging more than ever, [is that] classroom teachers need to be assessment literate, they need to be targeting their teaching to prepare their students for high-stakes assessments, through things like NAPLAN, the HSC etc.”

She says the alignment between being a good teacher and being a good assessor is more important now than ever before. “More than ever, authorities or government agencies are setting targets. It’s being data driven, there are performance targets that teachers or schools are expected to be able to meet by their government departments and that sort of thing, so teachers really need to be on top of their game,” Dunk says. “And they really need to not only know how to construct really good assessment, but also they need to be able to align their assessment to the way they deliver their subjects as well.” Dunk says so far, the course has given her an overview of the key developments in assessment worldwide, with a particular focus on the UK, the US and Canada, and applying those to the Australian context. She says from what she’s learnt so far, its pleasing to see how well Australian teachers deliver assessment. Students studying this ACU masters have completed their first assessment task, which asked them to explore a specific area of assessment of particular relevance to their work.

Dunk says further into the course she looks forward to learning more about formative assessment, and doing some of her own research in education. She says studying online has been fantastic, as it has allowed her the flexibility to juggle study with work. While she doesn’t have the opportunity to chat with her classmates face-to-face, there are plenty of opportunities for virtual conversations. “For every module that we do we have a forum where we can discuss with each other, as well as the lecturer, and we have plenty of support through that online learning environment as well,” she says. “It’s actually worked really well that it’s across Australia, because it’s a chance for me, being in Queensland, to talk to other teachers interstate and get an idea of what’s going on in the rest of Australia too,” she adds. “The fact that it’s interstate has actually played to our advantage.” Dunk says she can’t wait to put her newfound knowledge to use. “For me, being able to apply what I have learnt directly to the work that I do, to my job, that’s the most exciting thing...”

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careerslearning 69

new SA course

November 2015 • australian Teacher

valuable reading

Teaching children with ASD

Emmaus principal enjoying masters focus on globalisation and leadership

WITH an increasing number of students with a disability enrolling in mainstream schools, the South Australian Government has allocated funding to allow Flinders University to design and teach a specialised postgraduate course in teaching children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Announced by SA Minister for Education Susan Close, the $700,000 will provide scholarships for 80 teachers from across the state, Catholic and independent school sectors. Associate Dean from the School of Education, Kerry Bissaker, will lead the program and says that through the university’s research, they’ve found that access to professional learning and qualifications in the area of ASD was ad hoc and often limited to introductory levels. Therefore in order to effectively include and cater to students with ASD, teachers needed greater opportunities to develop expertise. The course will commence at the beginning of next year, and will be a specialised version of a course already available at the university. “We’re putting it together in a way that it will best support teachers’ needs, which means that it’s an intensive face-to-face approach, supported by some

RACHEL McClure is presently six months into her Master of Education degree at the University of Canberra, and says she’s delighted to have found that so many of her intuitions have a basis in research. “I just think it’s valuable when you find yourself in a leadership position ... to go back and see that your gut instincts do have some basis in research,” the interim principal at Emmaus Christian School says. “I think it’s valuable to measure what you’re doing against good peer-reviewed research, so I think the reading in this course is exceptionally valuable.” McClure is completing two subjects, one on globalisation and the other on educational leadership. “I’ve done quite a lot of reading on how global trends have influenced how we ‘do school’ and how we measure what we do at school – that’s been interesting reading, and the other subject is really focused on the theoretical frameworks for leadership that you might employ in your situations,” she shares. McClure says she finds herself studying and completing the required reading in the evenings. “I don’t watch as much television anymore!” she laughs. “My class-

Flinders University will run a new autism course for teachers from 2016. online study, and also engagement with our academic and autism support staff in their schools as well,” Bissaker says. The course will cover a wide range of topics related to autism and has a strong focus on developing a whole school model, prioritising both leaders and teachers studying this course together. “We’re looking for a leader within the school and a teacher so they can actually have a greater effect on the school once they return to the school,” Bissaker says. When developing the course, Bissaker says they’ve drawn on what they know about highly effective professional learning. “I’ve done a lot of research in

that area, so I’m very aware of what are the characteristics we need to replicate, so the change within the school will occur through the people’s study and research in the area. I think we’ve got what I hope is an exciting model in place,” she says. “The project will be evaluated as well, so the outcomes of the project will be closely monitored – in terms of gathering some baseline data before teachers and leaders commence their study with us and then documenting what is going on as we go along.” She says they’ll also be focused on ensuring the theory behind the learning can be applied to individual school settings.

Rachel McClure is completing her Master of Education. es are mostly online, they’re mostly through forums, I do need to go in occasionally but it’s not too bad. My school is flexible enough to allow me the couple of hours that I need during the term to just go in.” Sharing the learning journey is important to McClure, who often documents the things she’s studying in the school newsletter. She says the course has also allowed her to better understand the students at her Canberra school and the pressures they are facing. “When you don’t like sitting through an hour long lecture, it’s probable that they don’t want to either,” she says.

careersleadership 70 australian Teacher • November 2015

INBRIEF MBAs becoming a popular pathway business course

Performance passion

MELBOURNE - Broadmeadows Special Development School held their annual Performance and Development Review Presentations with teachers, therapists and acting principal Megan Adams sitting in. “It was inspiring to hear teachers speak with such passion and enthusiasm about their knowledge of their students, the programs and curriculum that they have created…” Adams says in the school newsletter.

Kinniburgh’s new post CENTRAL COAST - The school community of Woy Woy Public School bid farewell to Andrew Kinniburgh, who will take the position of deputy principal at Umina Public School. In the school newsletter, principal Ona Buckley says, “We are all very proud of him and I know you will join me in wishing him the very best for the future”.

Principal website live CANBERRA - The Australian Primary Principals Association is thrilled to announce their new website is now live. The association president, Dennis Yarrington officially launched the website at the three-day APPA Conference in Hobart. Visit appa.asn. au to explore its new features. Email briefs to

THERE has been a steady increase in the number of teachers enrolling in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Charles Sturt University, according to Dr Lan Snell. As the course director within the Faculty of Business at CSU, Snell says she closely monitors prospective students and their motivations for enrolling in the course, in an attempt to anticipate what changes can be observed in the marketplace. “What I also do is try and understand what the demographics are for our MBA and I take a great interest in looking at new admissions and the profile of these students,” she tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “What I did notice and this is over the past 12 to 24 months, is that there has been a steady increase in the number of enrolments from teachers into our MBA program.” Snell says most of these people have an undergraduate qualification in education and in fact, more than half have a Master of Educational Leadership under their belt as well. For aspiring school leaders however, Snell says it is important they can demonstrate a broad-based skill set with generalist manage-

Dr Lan Snell is the course director within the Faculty of Business at Charles Sturt University. ment principles, which an MBA can offer them. “Schools do not differ to that of an organisation in that the role encompasses managing stakeholder groups, driving and growing the business in terms of recruitment of new students, managing parents and that’s a huge stakeholder group unto its own, and alumni

– and of course the financing and staff management,” Snell says. “These are all traditional skills that you’d find in business and yet in education, what I’m trying to do is break down the silos of encouraging people to think beyond education and looking to other disciplines such as business which is transferable in terms of skills, to apply that into running an effective school.” Principals often need a range of skills to be successful, including those in finance, strategy, human resources and public relations. While the natural pathway for a lot of teachers to gain this expertise has been with a Master of Educational Leadership, Snell says this is changing. “Now the difference between a Master of Educational Leadership and an MBA is that they’re looking at different disciplines. “So educational leadership is looking at the issues within an educational sector and specifically looking at pedagogical and curriculum concerns or policy concerns, whereas an MBA is looking at generalist management principles that straddle all sectors. So it’s more of a generalist approach and so that’s a key difference in terms of its content and applicability,” Snell says.

With an MBA degree at CSU, Snell says people can gain the foundations of management principles like finance, accounting, HR and marketing, but they can also choose to specialise in educational leadership. “You can achieve both a generalist management understanding and the ability to specialise in educational leadership in our MBA but you cannot achieve that in doing a Master of Educational Leadership alone,” she adds. What makes the MBA program at CSU unique, according to Snell, is the fact that it is offered to students fully online. Realising that 90 per cent of current students are working full-time while studying, she says offering the course online was the only way to make it possible for busy teaching professionals to gain a further qualification. Snell also points to the fact that the Faculty of Business at CSU prioritises partnering with peak professional bodies in the sector, like the Principals Australia Institute, to stay ahead of the game. Snell will be conducting an online webinar specifically for teachers interested in an MBA on Tuesday, January 19 next year. Teachers should visit contacts/webinar to register.

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November 2015 • australian Teacher

Just on Principal

McDougall determined to smash glass ceiling

IF you mention the north-west Melbourne suburb ‘Broadmeadows’ to most Victorians, due to a combination of factors, not least a bad rap in the media, the response will most often be negative. Disadvantage, crime and welfare are words often associated with ‘Broady’, but for many, the muchmaligned place is home and they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Broadmeadows Primary School principal Keith McDougall is one such person. Raised on a farm in country Victoria, he’s been working in the suburb for 28 years and refers to locals as ‘the salt of the earth’. “I love the area, I love the com-

munity and yeah, the kids are hard, but they’re just so rewarding,” he says. Considered to be in the lowest 12th percentile for socio-economic disadvantage, the school’s academic performance has always been what McDougall calls ‘solid’, and with the state average in NAPLAN results always a target, the staff are aiming high. Several years ago he began researching ‘applied working memory’ and the work of Mimma Mason, a neuroscientist with educational company Pearson. Slowly things began to come together. “I started looking at ... ‘what are actually the preconditions for effective learning and what are the sorts of things that we need to have kids bring to the learning space?’ So we started looking at things like metacognition, applied working memory, and can we actually develop those? Then the whole notion of neuroplasticity [the idea of rewiring the brain] came to being about five years ago and we started developing this process from there.” McDougall visited Swedish professor of cognitive neuroscience Torkel Klingberg at his Brain Science Institute and returned home excited by what he’d seen. Over time, the most significant suc-

Broadmeadows Primary students express their feelings on an emotion wall. cesses are linked to professional learning teams which have each developed a set of materials that have had a profound impact on the school’s students. “The executive function is now embedded right across the curriculum and some of our learning intentions are actually embedded in the metacognition,” McDougall says. “That was a difficult piece of work, to move our learning intentions from procedural to conceptual. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close. “The other really interesting outcome is talking to kids about

emotion. We assume that kids understand what they’re feeling. What we found was that in some instances, they need to be explicitly taught. So, you know, what is happiness? What is sadness? What’s anxiety? And so we have explicit conversations with kids about that. When they come in each day, they go to an emotional wall and tell us how they’re feeling, which gives us a chance to intervene with kids who aren’t feeling all that positive about being with us.” The concept-based learning work is currently in its trial phase.

“We’re trialing it at Years 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 and the impact that it’s had on how kids question has been quite remarkable. So kids asking really, really open-ended questions and then wanting to source some response, so that level of curiosity has really been prompted, which has been a really interesting outcome.” According to McDougall, this year’s Year 3 NAPLAN results have also been hugely encouraging. “The Year 3s have been with us for four years, so they’ve had this pretty much from the start. And we’ve seen that the trend line, particularly in numeracy, where kids do need to strategise significantly, the numeracy data leapt quite significantly, the reading trend line is up, and the writing trend line has jumped considerably to be well above state average. “The challenge now is to get some more data next year and the year after and make some real determination about the process and what the impact is.” In a recent appearance on the ABC’s 7.30 program, McDougall described his school’s philosophy. “There’s a standard line that we have here, that the 3047 postcode does not determine your destiny. Where you start doesn’t matter – it’s where you end up that counts.”

Australian Teacher Magazine (November 2015)